Scottish mountain rescuers had their busiest weekend of the winter with call-outs to 11 mountaineers in five separate incidents.

One man died on Bidean nam Bian in Glencoe after falling 600 feet. A second member of his party broke his leg when he fell while descending.

Nearby, in Coire Gabhail, a climber broke his leg in a fall and in a separate incident, two walkers were taken to hospital with hypothermia after being found by a Royal Navy helicopter on Stob Coire nam Beith, also in the Glencoe area.

Two winter climbers were discovered safe but cold after overnighting on the Torridon mountains and a party of three were rescued from Ben Lawers in the southern Highlands after being benighted on the hills.

The dead man suffered serious head injuries in the fall. He was 34 and Scottish, but has not yet been named.

Helicopter crews from RAF Kinloss, RAF Lossiemouth and HMS Gannet helped volunteer Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) from Glencoe, Lochaber, Tayside, Dundonnell, Oban and Kintail in the various rescues. Weather conditions were severe, with high winds, snow and whiteout experienced by the rescue teams.

The Glencoe MRT was faced with two incidents at the same time. John Grieve, team leader, said: “There was a party of three coming off Bidean nam Bian when one climber was either blown off by the strong winds or he hit a bit of loose snow.

“He fell about 600 feet down a snow slope, hitting rocks on the way down. One of his companions started to come down when he also fell and broke his leg.

“The third man managed to get down and met up with a climbing guide who had a mobile phone. He called us and then went back up to see if he could help.

“We had to carry both the dead man and his companion out. At the same time there was an incident on the other side of the mountain, at Coire Gabhail, where a climber broke his leg.

“We asked the RAF team, who were in the area, to deal with that and they managed to fly him out. It was pretty amazing flying given the horrendous conditions.”

The following day, Glencoe MRT were mobilised after emergency services were contacted by two walkers who had lost their way on Stob Coire nam Beith. The team was on the mountain for six hours before finding the pair who were airlifted to Belford Hospital in Fort William suffering from severe hypothermia.

The two men missing in Torridon were found safe and uninjured but cold and wet after having spent the night on the mountain.

A Northern Constabulary spokesman said: “Due to a combination of poor weather and the loss of light, they decided to take shelter for the night and continue their descent in daylight and on the improvement of the weather.

“Both men were experienced and well-equipped and they appear to have made the correct decision in the circumstances.”

The two men and women caught in a whiteout on Ben Lawers survived by getting into their emergency bivvy bags. Alfie Ingram, who took part in the rescue operation, and who also chairs the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland, said: “They did the right thing. They were well equipped.

“All they had used were poly survival bags which cost £5 and they sheltered inside those.

“Survival bags are basic technology and easily go into a rucksack.”
The trio, from Durham University, spent 18 hours on the mountain.