Prayers will be held in the Scottish Highlands today for four climbers who were killed in an avalanche on a mountain near Glencoe yesterday.
The climbers were among a party of six on Bidean Nam Bian, a mountain with a height in excess of 3,000ft
Another man who stayed with the teams to help the search survived. One woman is in Belford hospital in Fort William with serious head injuries.
The four dead climbers have yet to be named.
It is believed they were descending from a peak on the south side of the valley when the snow-covered slope they were crossing broke away, engulfing five of them and sending them hundreds of feet down the mountain.
Glencoe and Lochaber mountain rescue teams and police were scrambled at about 2pm and following a major search two men and two women were found dead, buried beneath the snow.
The Rev Moira Herkes, who will lead a service at St Munda’s Church in Glencoe, said it was ‘the worst accident to happen here for many years’.
Ms Herkes, whose church serves the nearby areas of Glencoe and Ballachulish, said: ‘It is very distressing, because people come here for pleasure and when something like this happens it hurts everyone involved.
‘This is a very beautiful place, but at times it can be very dangerous.’
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called it ‘an appalling tragedy’. He said ‘to lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating’.
‘Our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been lost.’
Police are expected to interview the surviving man today to find out exactly what happened during the tragedy.
John Grieve, whose Glencoe mountain rescue team co-ordinated the search, said: ‘The first call to police was from two other people who had been on the mountain, they found someone lying next to where they were climbing.
‘So, the assumption was that it was just one casualty, but it became clear that there were others missing when they heard from the man who is safe.’
He said the dead climbers were located using a technique called ‘probing’, where a metal stick is pushed into the snow.
Mark Diggins, co-ordinator of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, said yesterday’s avalanche risk was deemed ‘considerable’, second lowest on a European four-point scale.
Mountaineer and former Glencoe mountain rescue team leader Hamish MacInnes last night told the Daily Mail conditions had been ‘hazardous’.
Prayers for four climbers killed in Glencoe avalanche – Metro
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