Glencoe Avalanche Kills Four, Police Say

Four people were killed during an avalanche in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday. The party of six climbers were caught up in the avalanche on Bidean Nam Bian around 2 pm local time.

The party was apparently descending from a peak on the valley’s south side when the snowpack they were on broke away.

It caught five climbers, who were carried down the mountain and buried by ice and snow. One female climber was dug out and remains alive with serious head injuries, reports the BBC.

The alarm was raised by two climbers who were not part of the group affected. John Grieve reports that the two climbers discovered one of the casualties from the avalanche lying in the snow. Grieve leads the Glencoe mountain rescue team that coordinated the search for the remaining climbers.

Soon after the initial alert, the male survivor from the climbing party also raised the alarm. Grieve, who is in Spain and was not part of the search team, stated:

“The first call to police was from two other people who had been on the mountain; they found someone lying next to where they were climbing. So, the assumption was that it was just one casualty, but it became clear that there were others missing when they heard from the man who is safe.”

The Telegraph notes that the SportScotland Avalanche Information Service rated Glencoe at a “considerable” hazard level. That means that naturally-triggered avalanches were possible and human-triggered ones were likely. The deceased climbers were discovered through a technique called “probing” where a metal stick is pushed into the snow. Grieve added:

“I’m not sure how deeply buried they were, but using that technique would suggest it was more than a meter.”

The last avalanche on Glencoe occurred in February 2010 and killed two climbers. Authorities are working to identify the four climbers who died, two men and two women.