viernes, 1 de marzo de 2013

Ben Nevis climber fell to death 'after rescuer cut safety rope' -

Mr Phillips, from Spean Bridge, near Fort William, who became the 11th person to die in the Scottish mountains this year, was an environmental officer with Highland council, and moved to the area to be closer to the mountains.

His wife Caroline, a radiographer at Belford Hospital in Fort William, said she was aware of the speculation surrounding his death and did not want to comment.

Paying tribute to her husband, she added: "On Feb 25 my beloved husband, Mark, was enjoying the superb conditions the Scottish Highlands were affording.

"He had spent the previous few days climbing and walking in the hills with friends. Tragically that day he sustained fatal injuries following an incident on Ben Nevis.

"Mark and I, together with our son, Ruaridh, had moved to the Highlands about 12 years ago so as to live amongst the hills and community we had got to love."

He added: "Mark was a loving father and husband and will be sorely missed by us and his many friends and work colleagues. Ruaridh and I thank them all for their support."

Mr Phillips was climbing with a friend who is understood to have witnessed the accident during the rescue operation.

A climber who helped in the effort blamed the accident on "basic human error" and said there was a lot of sympathy for the winch operator, who is understood to be a long–serving airman.

The Press and Journal newspaper reported that there were "tense radio exchanges" between the groups involved in the rescue in the moments before and after Mr Phillips fell, followed by an order for radio silence.

John Stevenson, the leader of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, said Ben Nevis was currently being swamped by climbers because of the good conditions.

He added: "The conditions are perfect. The mountain is mobbed with people climbing at the moment. It is very icy and hard, all the top notch climbers are up.

"This lad who died must have fallen over 160 feet at least. It was a bad fall. We think he was the lead climber because his mate was on the rope.

"He saw him fall, as did two other climbers in the area, and he abseiled down and raised the alarm by mobile phone. The lad who fell had massive head injuries. We sent a team of 18 and used every asset available.

"Accidents do happen and are going to happen. This latest tragedy is very unfortunate to say the least."

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