A FEMALE ice climber has been rescued off the Cairngorms after being hit by a 15-tonne section of a frozen waterfall.

The woman, who was attached by a rope, fell over 160ft on a frozen waterfall known as Oui Oui on Creag Dubh near Newtonmore, suffering serious head injuries.

She was hit by a 10-foot wide section of another frozen waterfall known for its instability.

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Army trauma doctor Christine Paterson from Inverness who had just returned from Afghanistan was climbing nearby and was able to provide first aid and stay with the casualty until Cairngorm Mountain Rescue arrived.

The team carried the woman on a stretcher down to the road following the accident at around 1pm yesterday, where they were met by an ambulance which took her to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

Mrs Paterson had been climbing with her husband Gary Kinsey. He said: "The block of ice that came away was about three metres wide, six metres high, and a metre thick.

"She was swept away. The guys below said she was engulfed by it, but she didn't actually hit the ground.

"She was knocked unconscious for about 30 seconds. I thought she was dead, but then she started screaming.

"She had a head injury to her right temporal area, but it wasn't bleeding much and she had a hat on so I just left it alone."

The rescue comes just six days after two men and two women died in the worst avalanche disaster that Glen Coe has seen.