The walkers were rescued from the southern face of Ben Nevis. Photo: Richard Allaway CC-BY-2.0

The walkers were rescued from the southern face of Ben Nevis. Photo: Richard Allaway [CC-2.0]

A group of walkers caught out in ‘horrendous’ weather on Britain’s highest mountain were extremely lucky to survive, rescuers said.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team said the four people were found on steep ground in Coire Eòghainn, about 150m below the summit of Ben Nevis.

The walkers had no crampons or ice-axes and three of the men were wearing trainers. The team said it believed the group did not have a map.

The Lochaber team was called out on Monday in a major operation involving 22 volunteer members. The rescuers faced blizzard conditions and very strong winds to reach the four walkers stuck in the south-facing corrie.

The wind-chill on the 1,345m (4,413ft) mountain was -20C.

The Inverness Coastguard helicopter also flew to the area but its crew was restricted in its operations by the severe weather.

Lochaber MRT found one of the group and then about 4.15pm the three other walkers were located on the mountainside.

A team spokesperson said they were ‘extremely lucky people’. “Three of the guys were in trainers! They were about 150m down into Coire Eòghainn on steep ice and if they had slipped or gone down any further consequences could have far more serious.

“Fair does to the guys as they did survive in some of the most challenging weather this year. Could have so easily ended up so different.”

The casualties were brought down to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe – the Halfway Lochan – from where the Coastguard helicopter airlifted them to Belford Hospital in Fort William.

The Lochaber MRT spokesperson said: “Fantastic effort by the team members to find them and get them down safely. The boss is letting the team members from summit team have an extra sugar in their tea and a ginger nut each now.”

The rescue ended about 7.30pm.

The spokesperson added: “Thanks to [helicopter] R151 for assistance and some great flying to get casualties lifted from Halfway Lochan.”

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