Glencoe survivor tells how he cheated death with an ice axe

Glencoe survivor tells how he cheated death with an ice axe

A survivor of the avalanche that killed four people in Glencoe, Scotland has spoken of his grief and how he cheated death using an ice axe.

The Sun reports that the climber, who did not want to be named, said in a statement: 'Five of my friends and I were descending a mountain in Glencoe, in an area known as Church Door Buttress, when the party was swept away by a snow avalanche.

'It is with much sadness and deep regret that some of my friends have died as a result. All in the group loved the mountains and are experienced winter walkers.'

The group stepped on to a 'raft' of unstable snow as they came off Bidean Nam Bian and as five of them were caught in the avalanche and fell 1,000ft down a steep mountainside, the male survivor managed to escape the accident using his ice axe.

Andy Nelson of Glencoe Mountain Rescue said: 'He was above the rest of the party and managed to stay above the snow when it started moving. I think he actually jumped and got his ice axe into the firmer snow.

'They wouldn't have known what the snow was like until they stepped on it. It would have been a split second.'

He added: 'You are essentially standing on a raft of snow sliding downhill at 40 or 50mph.'

Last night, three victims were named as junior doctor Una Finnegan, 25, of Co Antrim, Northern Ireland and PhD students Chris Bell, 24, of Lancashire and Tom Chesters, 28, of Leeds.

The victims were remembered at a morning prayer service in St Mary's Scottish Episcopal Church.

Church warden George Grant, 76, told the Scotsman: 'Over my lifetime there has not been a mountain tragedy of this scale, not that I can recall.

'We said prayers for the victims and their families. There have been many, many accidents, but it's the number [of fatalities] that is different.'

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