Climbers would have known nothing about avalanche: rescuer

One of the rescuers who took part in the Ben Nevis avalanche operation has said the climbers would not have known anything about it as it happened so quickly.

Donald Paterson described the conditions on Monday as “pretty horrific”.

The deputy team leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) said the four casualties – including three who died – had “just been unlucky” but urged people to look at forecasts and other available information before heading for the peaks.

He said: “It was described as huge, from the avalanche forecaster, who spotted it from a side angle.

“He spotted a plume of snow in the air, so (they would have been) partially airborne at some point.

“Obviously, the volume of snow was massive. The people involved would not have known anything about it, because it happened so quickly.

“It is literally your luck on the day.”

He added that because the winter had been so warm there had been fewer emergency callouts than usual.

However, the incidents which they have been involved with have had fatalities.

Police Scotland, Glencoe MRT and around 29 volunteer mountain rescuers who happened to be training in the area were involved in the operation.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team centre sign
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team centre sign

Having a multi-agency response was described as being sometimes “hectic” due to communications difficulties.

Helicopter involvement was also not possible due to the severe conditions.

Mr Paterson added: “They very nature of mountain rescue is dynamic, it changes all the time.

“You have to take it on a case by case basis.”