Two climbers who were rescued on Ben Nevis have been issued with fixed penalty notices by police for breaching Covid rules.
The pair, who are believed to have driven from Glasgow to Fort William, got into difficulties while climbing in Minus 2 Gully on Saturday evening.
It was the first of two incidents in a matter of hours for members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team – their first call outs of the year – and a rescue helicopter crew.
A total of 20 members of the rescue team and the Inverness-based Coastguard helicopter attended the Ben Nevis incident at around 4.15pm
The two climbers were recovered safely around 5.45pm and flown to Fort William.
A police spokeswoman said: “There were no injuries and both were issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching coronavirus regulations.”
As the helicopter was returning to base about 6.15pm, it was called back to help with the rescue of another two climbers cragfast on Creag Meagaidh.
Another 20 members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were airlifted onto the mountain and the men, who were not injured, were helped to safety by around 11pm.
It is believed they were experienced local climbers and no Covid regulations were broken.
People urged to follow Covid guidelines
On Friday, police urged people to follow government Covid guidelines after reporting they had received 46 calls to search and rescue incidents during December and January.
During that time, six fixed penalty notices were issued and six people were charged with culpable and reckless conduct.
Earlier this month it was revealed two walkers who sparked a rescue operation near Glencoe on Hogmanay were fined for breaching travel restrictions.
A member of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team was injured during the rescue of the pair, who travelled from Oban.
Malcolm Macintyre, support manager at Braemar Mountain Rescue, urged hill walkers to “keep it reasonable” during lockdown, and not risk adding additional pressure on the NHS and emergency services.
He said: “It’s very difficult.
“I totally understand why people are trying to get out and do stuff, it’s hard times for everybody, and I feel in a very privileged position in that I live 10 minutes from Glenshee hills, and so I can out my backdoor and go mountaineering, and if you live in the city you can’t do that.
“So on one level I understand the frustration that people have got, but I just think for the good of everybody, people have got to do the right thing, so that means sticking to the guidelines and not travelling out of your area.
“People should be sensible, take it easy, and not push themselves.
“You can get exercise out in the hills as long as you don’t do anything too daft, but my plea to everybody would be to think very carefully about what you’re doing, ask yourself if it’s in your capabilities, ask yourself if you’re pushing it a bit or not.
“Because if you are pushing it, you could put a massive strain on rescue services and the NHS which doesn’t need any more pressure on it.
“Save the heroics for when lockdown lifts. Let’s just keep it reasonable just now.”