A warned has been issued that climbers could be at serious risk of further rockfalls in the Cairngorms after a woman died in a freak accident yesterday.
The middle-aged woman on holiday from England was struck by a large falling rock in Coire an t-Sneachda.
She had been preparing to climb Pygmy Ridge with a companion and two other couples who had met online through dating website Outdoor Duo.
Other climbers including an off-duty police officer, went to try and resuscitate the woman without success.
Yesterday, the website’s administrator Steve Howie said he was “shocked and saddened” by the news.
Police said that inquiries were ongoing into the incident and said that the woman still had to be formally identified.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s mountain safety adviser Monty Monteith said that a combination of heavy snow in winter and heavy rain in summer had caused cliffs in the popular climbing area to become unstable.
Heavy rain last month caused a major rockfall which caused damage to the popular Goat Track route in the same corrie. Mr Monteith said: “This is particularly worrying as we move into winter over the next two months.
“Experienced climbers and mountaineers are very aware of the fragile nature of our mountains, which are in a constant state of decay.
“However, the heavy snows of last winter seem to have destabilised the cliffs and their surroundings even more.
“Once the first snows of this winter fall and temperatures plummet, the situation will be made even worse as successive freezes and thaws dislodge even more debris.
“This of course will be exactly the time when the first winter climbers take to the crags seeking adventure.”
Website boss Mr Howie said they were aware that some of the activities promoted through their dating site had the potential to become dangerous.
He confirmed that a trip to the Cairngorms had been organised by a site member last weekend but said he was currently unable to find out whether Tuesday’s accident involved that particular party or an OutdoorDuo member.
He added: “Regardless of whether an OutdoorDuo member was involved or not my heart goes out to the family of the woman involved, and to the other members of her party who must be severely traumatised.”
Efforts were made by Cairngorm Mountain Rescue and a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Gannet.
However, the woman could be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at the scene.