BBC NEWS, Thursday, 3 March, 2005  

Search finds lost climbers alive


Marek Horecek (left) and David Amos found shelter

Two climbers have been found safe and well two days after going missing in "ferocious" conditions in the Cairngorms.

David Amos, 57, who works for Edinburgh Council, and Marek Horecek, 30, a professional climber, disappeared after an ascent on Shelter Stone Crag.

They were among 80 climbers taking part in a British Mountaineering Council international six-day event.

The men found shelter in a bothy before being spotted by an RAF helicopter.  

They were flown to the outdoor training centre at Glenmore Lodge, where they will stay throughout Thursday.


"We overflew a bothy and two walkers came out waving their arms"
Flt Lt John Sheldon

The climbers told BBC Scotland that they had become disorientated after completing one of the area's most challenging ice climbs.

After digging a snow trench on Tuesday they had to wade through waist-high snow on Wednesday to reach the bothy.

Mr Amos said: "I wasn't really worried because we knew we were going down to the river and we knew that the river would gradually slope down to the bothy, so we knew we would get there eventually.

"We had water and we knew we could survive on water. Luckily the bothy had provisions.

"It hasn't put me off climbing, it is just another day of experience."

Followed river

Northern Constabulary said the climbers may have walked about 20km and found the River Avon, before following it down to Faindouran Lodge, a bothy on the banks of the river.

They were able to shelter and eat in the bothy and were spotted by the helicopter crew from RAF Lossiemouth at about 0720 GMT on Thursday.

Flight Lieutenant John Sheldon, who piloted the helicopter, said it was "a very straightforward job".


The two climbers went missing in the Cairngorms

"We overflew a bothy and two walkers came out waving their arms. We landed and our winchman went out and had a chat with them.

"We ascertained they were our missing walkers and that was it. We picked them up and took them to Glenmore Lodge," he said.

"Given the fact they were out for two nights, the climbers were in very good condition."

The search for the men had been hampered by white-out conditions which initially prevented a helicopter from aiding the ground search.

'Power of nature'

Members of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team set off at first light on Wednesday and were joined by the international climbers in the search.

Grampian Police and Braemar Mountain Rescue team had tried to reach the men on snowbikes, but the snow was too deep.

Glenmore Lodge principal Tim Walker said: "The power of nature is greater than all of us and, whilst these climbers were very experienced, very strong and completed one of the hardest technical climbs in the Cairngorms, Scotland's weather at its worst is ferocious.

"Navigating on the Cairngorm plateau in some of the conditions we had on Wednesday is as difficult and challenging as navigation can get.

Hot bath

"So even the most experienced climbers would find those conditions very demanding."

Mr Walker said the climbers were looking forward to a hot bath and a rest.

"We're trying to get them to have a rest now and all the delegates have returned here after assisting the search," he said.

"The seminar continues until Saturday and we don't anticipate losing anyone else."