Climbing deaths inquiry

THE GOVERNMENT is to fund a study into the causes of accidents in the Scottish hills which have claimed 14 lives so far this year.

The study, announced by the Scottish sports minister, Sir Hector Monro, will be carried out by the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland and completed by the end of April.

Researchers are expected to look at factors such as weather, equipment, fitness, experience and the difficulty of the terrain as factors in accidents in the hills.

Meanwhile, a climber who fell to his death on Ben Ledi, near Callander, on Saturday was named yesterday as Robert Williams, 56, an insurance underwriter from Caldercruix, Strathclyde.

Mr Williams, a member of a party of 12 from Lourdes Walking Club, East Kilbride, was descending the east face of the mountain when he fell.

A few hours earlier the body of George Gibson, 41, an Edinburgh University lecturer and forestry expert, was recovered from the foot of Five Finger Gully on Ben Nevis.

He was the third climber to be killed in the notorious gully in as many days. An estimated 290 deaths have been recorded on Scottish peaks over the past 10 years.

Blizzard conditions were forecast on higher ground in Scotland last night as wintry weather brought rain, sleet and snow to most parts.

Grampian police warned motorists not to venture out unless their journeys were necessary. Police in Tayside also advised against non-essential trips.

AA Roadwatch urged drivers to take extra care and warned of slush on the M8 motorway at Harthill, near Glasgow.

All major routes were open although several high-level roads in the Highlands were blocked with drifting snow.

Glasgow Weather Centre forecast more snow for areas north of the Central Lowlands and blizzards on high ground.