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Four people rescued from blizzard conditions near the summit of Ben Nevis on Monday afternoon are lucky to be alive according to mountain rescue personnel, who said the climbers had no winter kit such as ice axes and crampons and that three of them were only wearing trainers.
A total of 22 team members were deployed in the search for the four who were reported stuck on steep ground near the top of the mountain.
Describing the weather as ‘horrendous’ with very strong winds and blizzard conditions, the team said its members had to battle a wind chill factor in the region of minus 20 degrees.
A Coastguard helicopter was on scene assisting but was being hampered by the weather conditions.
After finding the first casualty safe, the team reported shortly afterwards at 4.15pm, that all three other casualties had been located and were being assisted off the mountain.
Just over an hour later and it was reported the four climbers had been airlifted by the Coastguard helicopter and taken to the Belford Hospital in Fort William.
In a statement, the team said the four were extremely lucky: ‘No winter kit – no ice axes, no crampons – and as far as we are aware no maps. Three of the guys were in trainers!
‘They were about 150 metres down into Coire Eoghainn on steep ice and if they had slipped or gone down any further consequences could have been far more serious.
‘What Three Words app took team to within metres of their location. Fair does to the guys as they did survive in some of the most challenging weather this year. Could have so easily ended up so different.
‘Fantastic effort by the team members to find them and get them down safely. Thanks to R151 [Coastguard helicopter] for assistance and some great flying to get casualties lifted from Half Way Lochan.’