The sole survivor of the tragic Ben Nevis avalanche has paid tribute to his three friends killed in the ordeal saying “I’m wearing you in my heart forever.”
Mathieu Biselx, 30, and his three friends – two French men aged 41 and 32 and a Swiss man aged 43 – were climbing in an area known as the Number 5 Gully on Tuesday when tragedy struck.
Following a lengthy six-hour operation, Mr Biselx was airlifted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital with serious injuries.
In a touching online tribute, the father of one thanked the men for their “friendship”.
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He said: “Raph, Cédric and Adrien. Thank you for your friendship.
“Have a nice trip to your new mountains. Thank you for everything you have been for our community, for your inspiration. We will miss you. Thank you for accompanying me so far.
“My thoughts turn especially to your families. We are all here for you. I’m wearing you in my heart forever.”
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) first received reports of the incident from the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, which recorded a large avalanche in the area around 11.50am.
The team, alongside 16 members of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and more than 29 volunteer mountain rescuers who happened to be training in the area, raced to the scene.
Paul Boggis from Mountain Magic was climbing on the UK’s highest peak with a group of mountaineers when he witnessed the tragedy. Being one of the first on scene, he recalled the harrowing ordeal.
He said: “The face of a dying man was held between my hands. I did my best to cradle his head and keep it still. He was one of four people that Number Five Gully caught in its avalanche on Ben Nevis two days ago. Three died. One survived. Alongside many mountaineers and rescue team members, my two clients and I helped to carry three of the four men down the mountain.
✝️Ben Navis Ecosse, 13.3.19Raph, Cédric et Adrien merci pour votre amitié!?Bon voyage dans vos nouvelles…
“Respecting the memory of the dead and the feelings of their friends and family is a big deal. It’s so sad to see these three mountaineers go and I can only begin to imagine what their loved ones are going through.”
During First Minister’s questions, Nicola Sturgeon conveyed her “deepest condolences to the bereaved and the injured”.
She said her “deep gratitude” to mountain rescue and coastguard would be echoed across the Holyrood chamber.
“To all those people who put their own lives on the line trying to rescue people who get into trouble on our mountains, it is hard to adequately express the debt of gratitude that we owe to those people.
“This deeply tragic event is a reminder that, no matter the joy and the beauty of our mountains and our landscape, they can be dangerous places and that has to be taken into account at all times.”