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Climber dies after plunging 300ft from Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis covered in snow
The man was attempting the Carn Mor Dearg route on Ben Nevis

A hillwalker has died after falling more than 300ft in “treacherous” conditions on the UK’s highest mountain.

The man is thought to have turned back from trying to reach the 4,413ft summit of Ben Nevis when he slipped on ice and fell to his death in front of a friend.

Rescuers searched for two days in difficult conditions before finding his body at Coire Na Gruagaichean on Monday.

The alarm was first raised on Sunday when one of the man’s companions saw him lose his footing about 3,000ft up the mountain.

He immediately raised the alarm, but as well as the ice, there was poor visibility.

There was also trouble pinpointing the exact location of the accident.

It meant that despite many hours searching on Sunday – aided by a coastguard helicopter from Prestwick – the missing man could not be found and the operation was called off in freezing darkness around 10pm.

The man was attempting the challenging Carn Mor Dearg Arête route with one of his three companions.

‘It was an unfortunate slip in difficult conditions’

John Stevenson, leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, said 25 of the team searched on Sunday and another 20 on Monday.

They were airlifted as far up Ben Nevis as a coastguard helicopter from Inverness was able to take them on Monday.

“The conditions were treacherous. The rain had frozen in a clear sheen on the rocks and slaps. It was like a skating rink,” he said.

“This clear icy glaze is far worse than snow. You can’t see it. To make matters worse the visibility was down to about 12-15ft when we searched.

“It was just an unfortunate slip in very difficult conditions. We think they were heading for the summit but turned back because of the icy conditions and were heading back to their campsite at the time of the accident.

“His companion saw him slip and immediately raised the alarm. But unfortunately the phone pinpointing system was not precise enough on this occasion and the conditions did not help in finding him.”

The search was resumed the next day, and the man’s body was found about five hours later.

Mr Stevenson added: “It is a very sad outcome and we would like to pass on our condolences to his family and friends.”

The rescuers faced a difficult retrieval – having to carry the body across in the icy terrain. A helicopter was then able to airlift them off from a suitable location.

A police spokesman confirmed a report had been submitted to the procurator fiscal.

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