Climbers died after being swept away by Avalanche

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Two climbers swept away by an avalanche on a Scottish mountain died, police confirmed.

The bodies of two men were recovered by a Mountain Rescue team from the Buchaille Etive Mor area of Glencoe.

The men were swept up in the avalanche shortly before 5pm yesterday.

A Northern Constabulary spokesman said no further details would be released until all next of kin had been informed.

Police advised climbers to check information from the Scottish Avalanche Information Service before heading for the mountains.

The Glencoe avalanche was the second suspected avalanche to happen in Scotland yesterday.

A man was also injured in an avalanche at Cic Hut on the north face of Ben Nevis.

He was found in Coire Na Ciste after falling several hundred feet from an ice climb.

Rescue teams, including a helicopter, were sent to the area.

He was airlifted to Belford Hospital in Fort William with serious injuries and is expected to be transferred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow for further treatment.

Police said inquiries into the accident were continuing.

Area Commander Ch Insp John Chisholm said: "We are expecting more severe weather and heavy snowfalls over the next couple of days.

"Any climbers going on to the hills should check the latest reports issued by the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and the latest weather reports."

In January last year three men were killed in an avalanche on Buchaille Etive Mor.

The men, part of a group of three, fell 1,500 feet, after the avalanche swept them off their feet.

They were above a large face of the mountain when they were hit by the avalanche and fell to their deaths.

The third member of the group was rescued by a group of two other climbers, who led him further down the mountain.

There, they discovered avalanche debris, and a man's hand sticking out of the snow.

The group then contacted mountain rescue, who found the survivors with the aid of a GPS device.

Team leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue John Grieve said: "There were bad conditions at the top of the mountain.

"They were at the top of the mountain.

"They decided the usual route down was not safe, so they decided to come a safer way by following the ridge.

"They walked along a seemingly innocent snow slope, but the first two members of the party were swept off their feet."

The SportScotland avalanche forecast service yesterday gave a High rating for avalanche risk in the Glencoe area.

It warned that windslab had been deposited on the south to west aspects of the mountain, as well as other sheltered locations.

Avalanches usually happen when something triggers movement in a layer of snow which is lying on top of a weaker layer.

When sliding is triggered, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of snow start moving down the slope.

Slab avalanches such as these account for 90% of all avalanches but they can also be caused by loose snow.

The avalanche forecast service said an "unstable combination" of windslab and buried surface hoar crystals meant the risk of avalanches in the area were inevitable.

Last year, award-winning painter Eamonn Murphy, 61, from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, his brother John, 63, from Portrush, Co Antrim, and Brian Murray, 46, from Monifieth in Tayside, Scotland, all died in an avalanche on the same part of the mountain.

They were part of a group which had been walking on Buchaille Etive Mhor, near Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands, when a huge slab of snow came away in blizzard conditions, burying at least one of its victims.

The Murphy family said at the time that Eamonn and John were very experienced at walking in mountainous areas.

The Fort William area is known for its beautiful scenery and is popular with skiers, climbers and walkers.

Buchaille Etive Mhor, which reaches 3,352ft in height, is known for its distinctive pyramidal shape.

On Monday four fell walkers were swept away by an avalanche as they walked on St Sunday Crag in Patterdale near Penrith, Cumbria.

The men were found by rescue teams in an RAF Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and taken to Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.