Lost skier survived on Mars bar and snow

A skier who spent a record three days and nights stranded in the Highlands in sub-zero temperatures survived by eating a Mars bar and handfuls of snow.

Andrew Wilson, 44, said that the snow helped him to remain conscious as he sheltered from 70mph winds in a snow-hole he had dug on a 3,000ft (900m) plateau near Braemar.

Mr Wilson was found yesterday morning by mountain rescue teams as he staggered down a hill at Glenshee. Doctors who treated him for hypothermia at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee said last night that he was "in remarkably good shape". He is expected to leave hospital tomorrow. It is thought to be the longest time, outside military exercises, that a skier has survived in such conditions in Scotland.

"As far as I am concerned he is Scotland's longest survivor on the mountains," said the rescue co-ordinator, Graham Gibb, last night. "We must have walked right past him or over the top of him because we covered the area where he had dug himself in."

Mr Wilson, of Croftfoot, Glasgow, became separated from his cross-country skiing companion, Robert McNeill, when blizzards struck the Highlands on Saturday.

In "white-out" conditions, he dug a snow shelter and climbed into his bivouac bag, where he remained until Monday evening, when a "weather window" appeared. Wind chill pushed temperatures as low as -30C during his ordeal.

With the help of a bright moon, he managed to make his way down a gully towards the main A93 road at Glenshee, where he was spotted by a Royal Navy helicopter shortly after 10am yesterday. Confused, dehydrated and suffering from extreme cold, he was lying in the snow. Last night Mr Wilson's wife, Marion, travelled to Dundee to be reunited with her husband. She said she was "immensely relieved, overjoyed and delighted" that he had been found alive. "All our prayers have been answered," she said.

Mrs Wilson, herself a cross-country skier, said her husband spent his first two nights in roughly the same area then attempted to move down the hill. At one point he saw a helicopter about 200 yards away but the crew did not spot him.

He spent a third night in a makeshift bivouac before striking out again yesterday.

Mrs Wilson said her husband made a final bid for safety yesterday morning "because he did not feel able to survive another night". Snow conditions were so difficult that Mr Wilson was forced to crawl on hands and knees at certain points during his four-day ordeal.

Mr Wilson, an accomplished outdoorsman, had not told his wife whether this experience would make him give up skiing but she added: "I certainly would not stop him ... I'm his wife, not his keeper." Emotion was running high when they met in the hospital. "He is emotional. He will talk away and then all of a sudden there is a wee crack in his voice. But he is OK."

At Ninewells Hospital doctors and rescue workers praised his resilience and "textbook mountain emergency procedure". Flight Sergeant Bill Batson, leader of the RAF Leuchars mountain rescue team, who joined the search for Mr Wilson, said: "His survival is down to his own skill and ability. He was properly dressed and is very tough. He has done exceptionally well."

Three climbers and walkers have died in the Highlands in the past 10 days.

A search for Anthony Marsh, who fell through a cornice on Ben Nevis on Saturday, was called off yesterday.

Rescue workers have all but given up hope of finding him alive.

Gale-force winds and blizzards are forecast for today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence