Climber lands on feet after plunge
Published 29/01/2011 | 21:32
Rescuers said that a climber is lucky to be alive after he survived a 1,000ft plunge down a mountain.
A rescue helicopter crew found the man standing up, reading a map, when they flew to the scene to search for him.
The 35-year-old had just reached the summit of the 3,589ft Sgurr Choinnich Mor around five miles east of Ben Nevis, when he lost his footing and fell down the extremely steep and craggy eastern slope of the mountain at around 2pm on Saturday.
A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Prestwick, Ayrshire, was already airborne for training and flew to the scene, arriving at 2.35pm.
The man, from Glasgow, was part of a group of 24 climbers, who pointed out the direction of their companion's fall to the helicopter team when they flew by.
Lieutenant Tim Barker, the crew's observer, said: "We began to hover-taxi down the slope and spotted a man at the bottom, standing up. We honestly thought it couldn't have been him, as he was on his feet, reading a map. Above him was a series of three high craggy outcrops.
"It seemed impossible. So we retraced our path back up the mountain and, sure enough, there were bits of his kit in a vertical line all the way up where he had obviously lost them during the fall. It was quite incredible. He must have literally glanced off the outcrops as he fell, almost flying."
A paramedic was winched down to check the man, who appeared to be unscathed beyond some superficial cuts and bruises and a minor chest injury. He was said to be "shaking from extreme emotional shock and the sheer relief at still being alive".
The man was found at 2,600ft, making his fall almost 1,000ft from the summit. He was winched on board the helicopter and then transferred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.
Lt Barker said: "He is lucky to be alive. It's hard to believe that someone could have fallen that distance on that terrain and been able to stand up at the end of it, let alone chat to us in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. Really an amazing result - I have to say, when we got the call and realised the details of where he'd fallen, we did expect to arrive on scene to find the worst-case scenario."