The rescue helicopter winched the climber from Coire an t-Sneachda. Photo: Cairngorm MRT

The rescue helicopter winched the climber from Coire an t-Sneachda. Photo: Cairngorm MRT

A rescue helicopter had to use the full length of its winch to rescue an injured climber after a fall in the Cairngorms.

It took the crew of the Inverness Coastguard helicopter almost three minutes to reel the man and the aircraft’s winchman up from the mountainside on Wednesday.

The climber fell from a route in Coire an t-Sneachda on Cairngorm, suffering a suspected broken ankle.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team was called out and the helicopter crew was alerted shortly before 4pm. The helicopter, which was on a training exercise in the area, arrived at the site in just over 10 minutes.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said: “With the assistance of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, they used the full length of their winch cable – 296ft – due the extreme turbulent conditions to airlift the climber, who was safely roped on to steep ground.”

The man’s climbing companion was helped to safety by the mountain rescue team.

A crew member said: “Trying to land a helicopter in these conditions is just not going to happen.

“Getting any closer to the mountain and we would have risked causing an avalanche. It must have seemed like a long time for us to reach the climber but this was the safest thing we could do under these treacherous conditions.

“This was a great team effort between us and the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, who we think are real heroes for bearing the conditions so well and taking the second casualty off the mountain.”


The Coastguard released footage of the winching operation

Cairngorm MRT said the second climber was able to abseil off the crag and was walked by rescuers to the ski centre car park. A spokesperson said the helicopter crew undertook some great flying, adding: “Many thanks also to Glenmore Lodge team for information on gully-top conditions as CMRT members were looking like an approach from the top in the dark for a crag pick-off.”

The injured climber was flown to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for further treatment.

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