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Injured Cairngorm walker airlifted to hospital after eight-hour rescue operation

Coastguard rescue helicopter and police teams assisted Aberdeen and Braemar MRTs in the eight-hour operation. Image supplied by Braemar MRT.
Coastguard rescue helicopter and police teams assisted Aberdeen and Braemar MRTs in the eight-hour operation. Image supplied by Braemar MRT.

A 21-year-old walker was airlifted to hospital after he fell and injured his leg during a hike with friends in the Cairngorms.

The group of three was venturing in the outdoors near Loch Etchachan when the man fell on the “rock-hard” snow and hurt his leg.

It is believed the incident happened around 12.30pm on Thursday, however, it was not before 3pm that the walkers were able to raise the alert due to the remoteness of the location.

A multi-agency rescue operation was then launched by Braemar and Aberdeen MRTs to provide medical assistance to the casualty and bring him to safety.

Police, as well as a coastguard rescue helicopter, also attended the scene to assist the volunteers as they battled the challenging conditions of the high mountain.

After an eight-hour operation, the injured man was airlifted to hospital.

The total of 27 volunteers took part in the rescue operation. Image supplied by Braemar MRT.

Police mountain rescue coordinator and Braemar MRT volunteer, Inspector Matt Smith, said the main challenge was reaching the casualty amid the adverse weather.

He said: “We requested assistance from the coastguard rescue aircraft, but because of the very low cloud and the really high wind, which was the biggest problem for us last night, they were unable to get near the scene.

“So we did an old-fashioned rescue, which involved Braemar MRT, Aberdeen MRT and police teams, just to get to the casualty. It took us to about 7pm before we were able to access the scene with the proper medical equipment.

“The casualty was given treatment, packaged up and then we had a fairly lengthy stretch of evacuation down to the nearest location that the aircraft can get him and take him to hospital.”

Increase in mountain rescue call-outs

The operation on Thursday comes amid a significant increase in call-outs across Scotland – with six people having died in the mountains in the last two weeks.

Police has also warned hikers to be wary of the challenging winter conditions that prevail in the high mountains, after a 28-year-old man died following a horror fall of nearly 1,000ft on Ben Nevis on Wednesday.

Inspector Smith urged walkers to always be prepared, plan ahead and be sensible about the risks of their ventures in the outdoors.

He added: “There is a very common theme around all the mountain incidents in recent weeks and that’s the underfoot conditions.

Image supplied by Braemar MRT.

“The snow that is covering most of the high mountains is not soft – it’s bullet-hard and like sheets of ice, which I think surprises people because they don’t necessarily see it from the car park.

“If it’s unavoidable and you’re trying to travel across it without crampons, you will not have any grip, so you’re highly likely to slide and get hurt.

“And unfortunately that has resulted in some very serious incidents across Scotland in the last couple of weeks.

“We couldn’t thank the mountain rescue teams enough. As a police service, we couldn’t rescue people off mountains without them and they work tirelessly – specifically in the last couple of weeks – to deal with dozens of mountain rescue incidents.”

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