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Two climbers “very, very lucky” to have survived overnight mountain ordeal

Police search and rescue crews found a vehicle belonging to one of the missing walkers at the Glen Tilt car park.
Police search and rescue crews found a vehicle belonging to one of the missing walkers at the Glen Tilt car park.

Two climbers who were missing for almost 24 hours in Highland Perthshire would not have survived a second night in the hills, experts have said.

Around 30 rescuers battled “atrocious” weather conditions on Friday night in the hunt for the pair in the mountains north of Blair Atholl.

The men, who are both in their 40s, were described as “lightly equipped” for the season and had become trapped at 3,000ft on Beinn Dearg in blizzard conditions.

The alarm was raised when they failed to return home at 5pm on Friday. Following an 18-hour search they were found north west of the summit of the Munro by a Coastguard search and rescue helicopter.

They were airlifted to Pitlochry at around 1.45pm suffering from hypothermia.

Stuart Johnston, team leader of Tayside Mountain Rescue, said the conditions on the mountain made for a challenging search.

He said: “The weather conditions on Friday evening were atrocious – high winds, blizzard conditions on the high ground and very, very, challenging for the rescuers.

“Where we found them is an extremely remote area of Scotland – they were approximately 14 miles from the nearest road.

“They had a very, very lucky escape from the mountain.

“They did a very good job surviving the night but they were extremely fortunate to have survived, no question about it. They were mildly hypothermic when they were found but recovered quickly.

“If we hadn’t found them by late afternoon the prediction was they were unlikely to have survived. They would not have survived a second night – they didn’t have enough equipment.”

Stuart also warned of the dangers of relying on mobile phones to navigate in the mountains.

He said: “They planned a route but hit serious weather in the late afternoon and managed to get into navigation difficulties. They became disorientated and headed further north off the mountain than they had intended and got stuck overnight.

“They were lightly equipped for the mountains and a winter journey. A big issue is people using mobile phone mapping software to navigate in the mountains.

“The problem they have is their batteries run down and they have no conventional mapping or navigation skills to get themselves back out again.

“With conventional maps you don’t need batteries.”

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