Scottish Daily Mail

Did monster avalanche sweep two brothers to their death?

Rescuers forced to abandon hunt until snow has melted

- By Dean Herbert

HoPES were fading last night for a hillwalker missing in an area at high risk of avalanches after rescuers were forced to call off a huge search operation.

Neil Gibson, 63, and his brother Alan, 56, failed to return from a walk near Strathcarr­on, Wester Ross, on Thursday, sparking a major search and rescue effort.

Alan’s body was discovered by mountain rescue teams on Saturday but the search for Neil was stood down yesterday evening, with police confirming it will not resume until there is significan­t snow melt.

The brothers went missing in an area deemed to be at ‘considerab­le risk’ of avalanches, according to the Scottish Avalanche Informatio­n Service.

It said blizzard conditions had led to large amounts of ‘wind slab’ – large compact sheets of snow – to develop on steep slopes in the Torridon area.

A warning stated: ‘Blizzard conditions from time to time, even at lower levels, resulting in more snow accumulati­on on the hills.’

It is believed the brothers were experience­d climbers and walkers. They were with their black pointer dog, Archie, who is also missing.

Alan’s body was found in the Achnashell­ach area.

The search for his sibling continued yesterday, with Torridon, Dundonnell and RAf Lossiemout­h mountain rescue teams, Coastguard rescue helicopter and the Search and Rescue Dog Associatio­n.

The brothers were reported missing in the early hours of friday by a family member – they had set out at 7.45am on Thursday. Both are originally from Nairn, although Alan is understood to have been living in the Durham area. Their late father, Alexander Gibson, who died in 2004, was a Kirk minister.

Neil, a former golf coach, previ- ously worked for Nairn Golf Club and is a Church of Scotland elder.

In 2013 he helped to save a woman’s life while working as a golf caddy in the town.

Marilyn Holter, a retired lawyer from New Jersey, was playing at the club when she fell ill, showing symptoms of a cardiac event.

Mr Gibson took her to Nairn Town and County Hospital, and she was transferre­d by ambulance to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

He then returned to the course to collect Mrs Holter’s husband and drove him to Inverness to be at his wife’s bedside.

Mrs Holter later said: ‘Although I am not a doctor, I am convinced that Neil’s actions were not only wildly and unusually considerat­e, but also life-saving.’ Meanwhile, another walker was rescued in the early hours of yesterday after becoming stranded in blizzard conditions 3,000ft up a mountain.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team (CMRT) was called out early on Saturday evening to help the man on Carn Ban Mor in the Glen feshie area.

He was struggling to navigate in the blizzard and was so cold his boots had frozen.

CMRT said a Coastguard helicopter made ‘strenuous attempts’ to drop off a rescue team as high as possible but was thwarted by the weather. A team of rescuers climbed up from the glen to find the man and bring him to safety.

The reached him around 3am on Sunday – after a nine-hour operation – and found him in a bivouac shelter.

CMRT posted on facebook: ‘We were getting quite concerned for the casualty. He had cut the laces off his boots because both his boots and his feet were frozen.

‘It sounded like he was in a bad way and it was proving really difficult to get to him.

‘A party of Cairngorm team members had to climb up from the valley to the summit of the hill to locate and rescue the walker.

‘The helicopter crew kept trying to reach the stranded walker through the night but the weather was simply too bad.’

The walker was said to be in good health despite his ordeal.

‘Both his boots and feet were frozen’

 ??  ?? Missing: Neil Gibson, 63
Missing: Neil Gibson, 63
 ??  ?? Climber: Alan Gibson, 56
Climber: Alan Gibson, 56

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