Ben Nevis was the scene of a fatality on Tuesday. Photo: Graham Lewis CC-BY-2.0

Ben Nevis was the scene of a fatality on Tuesday. Photo: Graham Lewis [CC-2.0]

Police are appealing to anyone heading for the Scottish mountains to take extra care, after a recent spate of fatal incidents.

Police Scotland said rescuers have experienced an increased number of callouts recently, with six people losing their lives over the past two weeks.

A spokesperson said: “Last night mountain rescue teams dealt with an incident on Ben Nevis when police were made aware of a number of people in difficulty.

“One man, aged 28, was pronounced dead at the scene and 23 people were assisted off the mountain. Two men, aged 29 and 37 were treated in hospital.”

Officers said the search for Nick Gillingham, last seen near the summit of Stob Coire nam Beith in Glen Coe, has been stood down due to weather conditions. It will resume once it is safe for mountain rescue teams to do so, they said.

Inspector Matt Smith, Police Scotland mountain rescue co-ordinator said: “The onset of spring has brought some more settled weather patterns and a welcome increase in daylight hours.

“We would urge those seeking to venture into the outdoors to take extra care. Challenging winter conditions still prevail in the hills with large areas totally covered in snow and ice.

“Often these areas are completely unavoidable and snow may be rock hard with a high likelihood of a fall unless crampons and an ice-axe are carried and most importantly, the group has a knowledge in how and when to use them. A slip in these situations may have very serious or fatal consequences.

“As with all outdoor activities, planning is key and a number of key partners produce resources and guidance to help keep you safe including the current #thinkWINTER campaign backed by Scottish Mountain Rescue and Mountaineering Scotland.

“It is vitally important to understand the risks of your activity, the experience of your group, the prevailing weather conditions during and at your intended destination and that suitable equipment is carried to allow you to navigate safely over steep or icy terrain.

“Make a plan; don’t be afraid to adapt and make sure you think about what to do if things go wrong. The photo you’ve seen on social media is not always a true reflection of what you may find when you get there.

“The volunteer mountain rescue teams across Scotland are an amazing network of dedicated and highly skilled people who will do everything they can to assist you if you find yourself in difficulty but responsibility for staying safe on the mountains rest with us all and involves good planning, sound decision making and the ability to carry and use the correct equipment. By all mean enjoy Scotland’s spectacular scenery but do so safely.”

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team said it had been called out 12 times since Saturday to incidents involving 26 casualties. “Unfortunately three of these shouts resulted in fatalities and we’d like to extend our heartfelt condolence to the friends and family of those involved at this difficult time,” a spokesperson said.

“It would be remiss if we didn’t stress just how important it is to be adequately prepared for winter in the hills. Having the ability to competently navigate with map and compass as well as having and being able to use crampons and axe are vital skills to have if you’re venturing into the hills.

“Once again, to members of the public on the hill, team members, neighbouring teams who assisted, helicopter crews, those who fed and watered us and those who continue to generously donate – thank you.”

Anyone who needs emergency help on the mountains should ring 999, ask for the police and then for mountain rescue.

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