The rescue team that covers the UK’s highest mountain has had one of its busiest years to date.
It follows one of its quietest in a decade because of a lack of snow in 2017.
But Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team answered 109 call outs in 2018 compared 78 the previous year – including to at least eight fatalities, with several on 4,411ft Ben Nevis, which attracts over 100,000 walkers and climbers each year.
Among those to plunge to their deaths on the peak last year was a climber whose body was finally found in June – five months after he had been buried under “at least” 16ft of snow.
The remains of Polish hiker Marcin Bialas, 36, were discovered after “hundreds” of hours of searching over the months.
Mr Bialas who was reported missing in an area close to Observatory Gully on January 21.
He is believed to have fallen 1600ft through a cornice – an overhanding ledge of snow – and was buried deep in snow.
John Stevenson, leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, said the discovery of Mr Bilas’s body was an example of how the team always tried to “bring closure to family and friends” even it involved a long search by dedicated rescuers.
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“Our thoughts and sincerest condolences always go out to family and friends. But as with all fatalities it never gets any easier,” he said.
Ten hillwalkers died on Scotland’s mountains during last winter.
Scotland’s busiest mountain rescue team also helped scores of people, either on Ben Nevis, or the surrounding mountains and other areas in Lochaber in 2018.
“This year we have had 109 call outs which is up there with our busiest years. The most we have had is 120. The previous year was our quietest in the last 10 years with ‘only’ 78 call outs requiring 3400 volunteer man hours, where we rescued 82 people. Unfortunately we still dealt with five fatalities then,” said a spokesman for the team.
Today we were going to post a review of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team review of 2018 but given the events of today, this…
Mr Stevenson added:”The low number of call outs in 2017 was probably due to there being virtually no winter with snow in short supply until well into February.
“But last year there was a lot of snow and that pushed up the call outs.
“We also have had a number of people who have put themselves at risk unnecessarily through poor navigation, equipment or just plain stupidity. All you can do is keep pushing the safety message and hope its gets through.”
This year has already got off to a sad start for the team.
A woman climber died after falling from the UK’s highest mountain on New Year’s Day.
The 21-year-old from Germany was a student, who was studying at the University of Bristol. She climbing with three others on Ben Nevis when she plunged 500ft (152 metres) from the Carn Dearg Buttress. The woman and her friends had been climbing what is known as the “ledge route”.