MISSING hiker Esther Dingley may have been entombed in ice after falling into a mountain lake, it is feared.
The Brit would have stood little chance had she slipped in as she was wearing a heavy pack, sources say.
Heavy snow since Esther was last seen on November 22 mean police divers may have to wait until spring to search for her.
The adventurer, 37, had told locals of her plans to camp beside a lake when she set out to climb 8,976ft Pico Salvaguardia in the French Pyrenees.
The area, around the town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, is also known for its water pits.
A source said: “The nature of the still and very deep water means bodies can sink and disappear for many months.
“The possibility of someone slipping into water is high.”
Sources say the lake theory would explain why no trace of Esther has yet been found.
Durham-born Esther — whose partner Dan Colegate, 38, was housesitting in Gascony, France — quit her job to tour Europe six years ago and was on a month-long solo trek.
She had parked her camper van at Spanish border village Benasque.
Local mayor Jose Ignacio Abadias said the area had seven or eight fatal mountain accidents a year.
He said: “It’s not surprised us to hear someone else has gone missing.
“It’s never advisable to go into the mountains alone.”
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