Andy Nisbet, second from left, with Graham Jackson, right, and SMC members on the summit of Sgùrr a’ Bhac Chaolais in 2012. Photo: John Barnard

Andy Nisbet, second from left, with Graham Jackson, right, and SMC members on the summit of Sgùrr a’ Bhac Chaolais in 2012. Photo: John Barnard

The mountaineering community is mourning the loss of two of its accomplished members who died in a fall on Ben Hope.

Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry were roped together on the mountain, the most northerly munro, when they fell.

It is believed they had just completed a climb and were on easier ground at the time.

A major rescue operation began on the 927m (3,041ft) mountain on Tuesday involving Assynt Mountain Rescue Team and a Coastguard helicopter, but the men’s bodies were found in the early hours of Wednesday morning on the north-west side of Ben Hope.

Nisbet was described as a huge icon of Scottish mountaineering. Along with his regular climbing companion Perry, they regularly posted routes on Ben Hope in the Flow Country of Sutherland.

Both were stalwarts of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, with Nisbet a regular writer in climbing guidebooks.

Andy Nisbet was 65 and lived in Aberdeen and his climbing partner Steve Perry, 47, was originally from Lancashire but was based in Inverness.

Nisbet received the Scottish Award for Excellence im Mountain Culture in 2014. Organisers of the award said: “Over the decades Andy has gone to incredible lengths to bring climbers a highly accurate and detailed record of the tens of thousands of climbs across Scotland in the SMC’s climber’s guidebook series.

“Known for his boundless enthusiasm, humour and pioneering attitude, Andy exemplifies the passion for mountain culture that this award celebrates. Andy’s life’s passion has been exploring and opening hundreds of new routes on Scotland’s mountains and sharing his unparalleled knowledge of the Scottish cliffs in his guidebooks.”

Andy Nisbet, Recipient of the 2014 Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture from Fort William Mountain Festival on Vimeo.

A video produced by Claire and Dave Macleod to mark Andy Nisbet’s mountain culture award

Former mountain rescue luminary Dave Heavy Whalley said: “Never in the history of Scottish mountaineering has anyone been so prolific or enthusiastic and introduced so many to the mountains especially in winter

“It was in winter that Andy excelled. He climbed all over Scotland – most crags have a ‘Nisbet route’ – and was the expert in Scottish winter climbing.

“At one time he was the youngest to complete the munros – at that time at 19 years old. This is where we had a common interest in the hills, especially his marathon hill days with rock climbing added to produce some incredible days.

“Though he was such an incredibly talented mountaineer he always had time to speak and give me and so many others the benefit of his knowledge. He was always interested in what we were up to and if we had found any new crags, on our wanders round Scotland.

“Yesterday I lost a good pal who was a huge icon in Scottish mountaineering. Many will miss that wild beard frozen up and his vagueness when chasing new lines on the mountains but what huge enthusiasm on the crag. He was a huge influence on the Scottish Mountaineering Club where he was on many of the committees and served as president. I knew him for the many meetings we had with the Scottish Mountain Trust and the huge work he did for mountain lovers and the guidebooks that he loved and wrote.”

In 2012, Nisbet joined hill sleuths John Barnard and Graham Jackson to help measure two hill in Glen Shiel, Buidhe Bheinn and Sgùrr a’ Bhac Chaolais which were both vying for corbett status.

The British Mountaineering Council expressed its deepest condolences to the families of Nisbet and Perry.

It said Steve Perry was a highly passionate winter climber. “In recent years he established a new-routing partnership with Andy and together they pioneered the development of new winter climbs on Ben Hope, the most northerly munro,” it said.

The council’s deputy chief executive Nick Colton said: “It’s terrible news. Andy was a keen and regular host at the BMC winter international meets.

“He was always really positive and extremely generous in sharing his immense experience and encyclopaedic knowledge of conditions, and about winter climbs and walks, in Scotland. A sage and master of his craft, he’ll be sorely missed by the mountaineering world.”

Mountain Training UK chief executive John Cousins said: “This is such tragic news. Not only did so many of us prize repeating a Nisbet route, but Andy was a talented and well known mountaineering instructor and former aspirant guide who shared with so many people not only his passion for climbing and walking but also his technical skills and his incomparable knowledge of the Highlands.”

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team and members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service from Lossiemouth also took part in the operation to find and recover the two men.

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