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‘Trust your instincts and don’t push a bad situation’: Video shows mountain rescue team battling to get climber to safety after Cairngorms avalanche

The leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team has said it was “lucky” only one person was injured during a day of avalanches.

Six or seven avalanches were recorded in Cairngorms on Saturday – including one in Coire an t-Sneachda.

Two experienced climbers were caught in the rush of snow, with one hurting his leg.

They raised the alarm with the mountain rescue team, and 21 members battled dark and wintry conditions to get the pair to safety.

The two men were able to self rescue down to the coire floor and find an emergency equipment box and were met there by the team.

They stretchered the injured climber back to the Cairngorm ski area where he was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness by ambulance.

Volunteers from the MRT spent six hours braving the elements on the hill, reaching the climbers at around 3.30pm and getting them back to safety by 7pm.

In a video shared online, the team can be seen fighting their way through knee-deep snow carrying the injured climber on a stretcher. It is pitch black and snow continues to fall around them as they carry out the rescue mission.

Multiple avalanches in the area

Team leader Iain Cornfoot said: “It was hard work with the poor visibility and trying to route find in the deep snow.

“Conditions were difficult to be able to evacuate someone in a stretcher, but it went well, people’s work ethic kicks in when we have difficult conditions like that.”

One of the main issues was that more snow fell than was forecast, so to came unexpectedly to those climbing and walking in the area.

Mr Cornfoot added: “We were lucky yesterday that there was only one person injured.

“We know of at least six or seven other parties that were avalanched in that same area, it was a period of really high avalanche activity for this early in the season.”

CMRT Training:- Team members out in Northern Coires today assessing the conditions, snow cover and refreshing our Winter…

Posted by Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team on Sunday, 28 November 2021

‘Trust your judgement’

Mr Cornfoot urged anyone out walking or climbing in harsh weather to be ready to adapt their plans to changing conditions.

He said: “People are really eager because it’s early season so everyone wants to get out climbing. The conditions changed from what was forecast and people have to be mindful of what’s in front of them as well.

“The guys we spoke to said they saw red flags but kept going. It’s difficult because those conditions are always changing and avalanches are difficult to predict.

“You have to be ready to change your plans if what you’re seeing doesn’t match the forecast.

“Trust your instincts and don’t push a bad situation. The mountains will be there another day.”

Planning a winter walk?

Cairngorm MRT are currently working with Glenmore Lodge, Mountain Training Scotland, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland and Snowsport Scotland to ensure climbers know the dangers of the mountains during winter.

Stuart Younie, chief executive officer of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “Tackling the Scottish mountains in winter conditions can be a serious undertaking, and it requires careful planning as well as the additional skills and equipment beyond those needed for summer hill walking.

“With so much information now available online and on social media, we want to make sure people know how to access reliable and up to date information to help them keep safe and enjoy their winter adventures.”

These sources include:

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