‘Experienced mountain guide and two clients’ who fell to their deaths in Glen Coe ‘were roped together’ as they tried to navigate the UK’s most treacherous hillwalking ridge during heavy rain
- Bodies of two men and a woman were found after alarm raised on Saturday night
An experienced mountain guide and two clients were ‘roped together’ when they fell to their deaths in Glen Coe, it was revealed today.
The bodies of two men and a woman were found after they tried to navigate what is widely known as the UK’s most treacherous hillwalking ridge during a spell of heavy rain over the weekend.
Sources close to the search said this morning that the male guide was experienced and that it was ‘pretty normal’ to rope people together on sections of the Aonach Eagach Ridge.
But the trio, who were traversing the ridge east to west, are believed to have encountered unusually wet weather for August before suffering a ‘significant’ fall.
Police Scotland confirmed the alarm was raised shortly after 9.05pm on Saturday.
An experienced mountain guide and two clients were ‘roped together’ when they fell to their deaths in Glen Coe, it was revealed today
An experienced mountain guide and two clients were ‘roped together’ when they fell to their deaths in Glen Coe, it was revealed today (pictured, a rescue helicopter at Glencoe in 2019)
An initial search involving Inverness coastguard helicopter was made in mist and fog in difficult terrain, before the bodies were found in the early hours on Sunday.
Police said Glencoe and RAF mountain rescue teams also assisted with the search and recovery operation.
The police spokeswoman added: ‘There do not appear to be any suspicious circumstances. A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.’
The force has declined to comment further.
Angus MacDonald, a local Highland councillor who grew up in the Clachaig Inn below the ridge, said: ‘This is a tragedy for those who died and their families.
‘I know everyone in the area will feel for them.’
David Whalley, a veteran mountaineer and former mountain rescue team leader, said Aonach Eagach was one of the best mountaineering ridges in Scotland.
He said traversing – crossing the ridge – did not involve hillwalking, but mountaineering and there were some tricky spots to negotiate along the route.
Mr Whalley told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: ‘We mustn’t forget we are talking about people and grief going on in (families’) lives.’
‘Mountaineering is wonderful but it is a risk sport and we all live with that when we are out in the mountains.’
Mr Whalley also paid tribute to Glencoe’s volunteer mountain rescuers.
The narrow, exposed ridge running almost the length of Glen Coe involves scrambling – a mountaineering term meaning hillwalkers using their hands to help keep their balance on steep, difficult terrain.
Its entire length runs for about six miles (9km) and the ridge has two Munros, Scottish summits higher than 914.4m (3,000ft).
Dozens of walkers and climbers traverse Aonach Eagach safely every year but seven people have died on the ridge since 2014.
Previous deaths in the area have included a 63-year-old woman in September 2014 and a 44-year-old man in July 2016.
Last September, the body of Alan Taylor, from Dundee, was found in a gully near the ridge. The 57-year-old had been missing since September 2021.
Aonach Eagach is said to be one of the narrowest ridges on the British mainland. Pictured, Glencoe on the map
It is one of the worst multiple fatalities involving hillwalkers from one incident in Scottish mountains
Walking website Walkhighlands describes Aonach Eagach ridge as the ‘narrowest ridge on the British Mainland’.
It is one of the worst multiple fatalities involving hillwalkers from one incident in Scottish mountains.
It is usually avalanches that have the potential to claim several lives at once – but that is in the winter.
The first avalanche deaths in three years were recorded on the country’s mountains in the 2018/19 season, when three climbers died on Ben Nevis.
Raphael Aymon, Cédric Ravimet and Adrien Robez-Masson, from France and Switzerland all died in the deadly snow slide in Number 5 Gully on Ben Nevis on March 12, 2019.
The only survivor of the accident was Swiss citizen Mathieu Biselx.
Mr Biselx described how the party of four experienced climbers were flung down the gully by a torrent of heavy snow which fell 1500 feet on to them.
The latest deaths come only days after an 80-year-old man died in an accident in Skye’s Cuillin mountains.
John Meechan, from Glenrothes, Fife, died after he fell on 3,064ft (933m) Coire a’ Bhasteir on July 26.
Skye Mountain Rescue Team and a coastguard helicopter were involved in the rescue operation.
Mr Meechan’s family said he had climbed all over the world and was passionate about the sport.
Pictured, Aonach Eagach Ridge which is is said to be one of the narrowest ridges on the British mainland
In January 2013 four people were killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.
A party of six climbers, three men and three women, were caught in the snowfall on Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe.
Police and mountain rescue teams launched a rescue operation after the alarm was raised by two climbers, who were not part of the group, after they discovered one of the casualties lying in the snow.
The climbers were close to Church Door Buttress when the snow slope broke away.
Britain’s worst mountaineering disaster happened on November 20, 1971.
Five teenage school pupils and their 18-year-old guide froze to death on the Cairngorm plateau, one of the highest and most inhospitable places in Britain.
In total 14 Edinburgh students and their three leaders set off on a school climbing expedition in the Cairngorms.
But it was to be a trip steeped in tragedy. It came to be known as the ‘Cairngorm Plateau disaster’, Britain’s worst mountaineering accident, which left six dead, two fighting for their lives, and many more scared, scarred and heartbroken.
The group of 14 teenagers set off from Ainslie Park School in East Pilton with the school’s outdoor instructor Ben Beattie, who at just 23 was the oldest of the group, and his 21-year-old girlfriend Catherine Davidson in sole charge.
The fatal accident inquiry was held in Banff in February 1972.
It was revealed that the consent forms issued to parents did not say there would be winter mountaineering.
It concluded parents should in future get more information about expeditions, called for the establishment of a better training and certification regime for instructors, and recommended that experts should advise on whether high-level shelters should be removed to stop people relying on them in emergencies.
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