Avalanche survivor pays tribute to friends lost on Ben Nevis

The survivor of an avalanche on the UK’s highest peak has paid tribute to his fellow climbers who died, telling them “you will forever be in my heart”.

Swiss national Mathieu Biselx, 30, lost three members of his group on Ben Nevis in the Highlands on Tuesday.

They were caught by a deluge of snow and ice, triggering a huge search and recovery operation in treacherous conditions.

The men were members of the Swiss Alpine Club in the town of Sion in the southwestern canton of Valais.

✝️Ben Navis Ecosse, 13.3.19Raph, Cédric et Adrien merci pour votre amitié!🙏Bon voyage dans vos nouvelles…

Posted by Mathieu Biselx on Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mr Biselx, who has been receiving treatment for leg injuries at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, said in a Facebook post: “Raph, Cedric and Adrien, thank you for your friendship.

“Have a good trip to your new mountains.

“Thank you for all you have done for our community, and for your inspiration. You are going to be missed.

“Thank you for having come so far with me. My thoughts are with your families. We are all there for you.

“You will be forever in my heart.”

Two of the avalanche victims were French, aged 41 and 32, and the third was a Swiss 43-year-old.

Le Club Alpin Suisse CAS est profondément attristé par la terrible nouvelle des trois membres de la section Monte Rosa…

Posted by Club Alpin Suisse CAS on Thursday, March 14, 2019

The men’s mountaineering club said in a statement: “The Swiss Alpine Club is deeply saddened by the terrible news of the three members of the Sion Monte Rosa branch who died on Ben Nevis on Tuesday.

“We send all our sympathy and our most sincere condolences to the families and those close to those who died.

“Our thoughts are with Mathieu who survived the avalanche and who lost his three climbing companions.”

Mr Biselx said his companions were experienced climbers who took advice from local guides.

He said they had been given two routes to take on the mountain, and upon reaching the second route in the afternoon they saw there had already been an avalanche.

They had barely reached the area when they were swept away.

Mr Biselx, who has a young daughter, said he was “amazingly lucky”.

He told Valais newspaper Le Nouvelliste: “We weren’t very high up and suddenly we heard a noise. We looked round and two seconds later we were carried away by heavy, compact snow.

“When I regained consciousness only my head and an arm were sticking out of the snow.”

He described his companions as “wonderful” people who were also fathers.

A police officer talks to media following a fatal avalanche
A police officer talks to media following a fatal avalanche

The men were recovered by members of the Lochaber and Glencoe Mountain Rescue teams with assistance from volunteer rescuers training in the area.

It is the third fatal accident on 1,345m Ben Nevis in recent months.

On January 1 a 21-year-old Bristol University student from Germany died after falling from a ridge.

In December, Patrick Boothroyd, 21, from West Yorkshire, died after falling in the Tower Gully area.