It’s been a grim weekend for mountain casualties across Britain which culminated this morning with the death of two young climbers in Scotland.
The Aberdeen University students, one an undergraduate aged 18 and the other a 23-year-old graduate, were caught in atrocious winter conditions yesterday near Coire an t-Sneachda.
The two men were found by rescuers this morning, about 400m apart after spending the night in temperatures of -20 C and winds of 70 mph. They were airlifted out by helicopter but died after reaching hospital in Inverness. Their names have not yet been released by police.
27 members of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) were mobilised after the climbers failed to rendezvous yesterday evening with a party from the university climbing club attending a safety course at Glenmore Lodge. The men had been given a lift by the club members. A university spokesman said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic deaths of one of our students and one of our graduates.
“The university would like to express its most sincere condolences to the families of both men at this very sad and difficult time.”
An RAF search-and-rescue helicopter using an infra-red camera helped the Cairngorm MRT team, but the rescue effort had to be called off until early morning. The first casualty was found at 10:52 this morning and his colleague an hour later by search and rescue dogs.
Michael Mulford of the RAF said: “It is a relatively small area but conditions are really awful.
“You have got a lot of snow up there; you have got an avalanche danger. This is the difficulty with that whole area of Coire an t-Sneachda.”
Elsewhere, a 25-year-old Ukrainian student fell 60m (200ft) from Striding Edge, pictured left, on the Helvellyn range of the Lake District. The Lancaster University student was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, after treatment for a head injury by a doctor from the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team. It was the 11th rescue for the team on Helvellyn this year, and the third to a casualty on Striding Edge.
In the Brecon Beacons, 35 rescuers from the Central Beacons and Brecon MRTs helped rescue a man and a woman cragfast in snowy conditions on Craig Fan Du, Torpantau, Talybont. The woman was airlifted to Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil by a helicopter from RAF Chivenor. She was reported as becoming unconscious due to hypothermia. The rescue teams were called out at 2:30pm on Saturday.
Britain’s mountain rescue teams are all volunteers and, apart from the four RAF teams, unpaid.