Three climbers die when avalanche strikes Highlands

'It was massive... a huge slab of snow which just came away. We were engulfed,' says eyewitness

Three mountain climbers were killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands, police said last night. The three, two men from Northern Ireland and a third from Scotland, died yesterday after being trapped under an avalanche on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe, near Fort William.

A fourth climber was seriously injured. Five others escaped injury. It is believed the climbers were members of at least two separate teams in the same area when the avalanche struck.

One man who survived the accident said he had to dig his injured friend out of the snow. Jim Coyne, 50, from Lindsayfield, East Kilbride, said he and David Barr, 53, of Paisley, were one of three parties on the mountain when a slab of snow came away from the peak. Mr Barr reportedly suffered an injured shoulder in the avalanche.

Mr Coyne said: "We were just below the summit when it happened. It was a massive avalanche, a huge slab of snow which just came away. We were engulfed and I managed to dig my way out. As I tried to get my bearings, I saw an arm sticking out of the snow. It was Davie. I dug for 10 minutes using just my hands to get him free."

A helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth, which had been on exercise in the area, was the first to reach the spot on the Coire na Tulaich area of the mountain, and took the first two climbers aboard. A second rescue helicopter, from the Royal Navy station at HMS Gannet, near Prestwick, was also scrambled and took the Glencoe rescue team and search dogs to the scene. The rescue team struggled through blizzards to locate the injured climbers.

Experts said people had died in the area in previous incidents. Mike Pescod, a mountain guide based in Fort William, said he had been out with climbers on the same mountain yesterday, but chose a different route down because the snow was so unstable. "Why on earth did anyone go up there today?" he asked last night. "It has been snowing all week, and the mountain is very loaded and avalanche-prone today. This pass is known as somewhere that collects snow and is a hazard for avalanches. It's a spot where climbers have died before."

The Sport Scotland website rated the risk of avalanches in Glencoe as "considerable". Yesterday's risk was rated as category three, on a scale of one to five. David Campbell, the manager at the nearby Glencoe Ski Centre, said the area was popular with climbers. "It's a well-known area for climbers," he said, "but it's not an area for the inexperienced. This is a really major incident."

Bob Kinnaird of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service said it was not known whether the victims had read yesterday's warning. He told the BBC it was "a massive exaggeration" to suggest that people should not have been on the mountains after a category three avalanche warning was given.

The Fort William area is known for its beautiful scenery. Buachaille Etive Mor, which reaches a height of 3,352ft, is known for its distinctive near-pyramidal shape.

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED IN AND AROUND SWALE

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Description Randstad Education i...

Geography Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

Science Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

English Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week