A CLIMBER has been airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after being caught in an avalanche on Ben Nevis.

The woman was with a man, who was also injured, in Coire Leis, an area between Ben Nevis and neighbouring Munro, Carn Mor Dearg.

The alarm was raised shortly after 1pm yesterday.

Loading article content

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, some of whose own members had been avalanched during a rescue at the weekend, and a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Gannet, at Prestwick, were called to the scene.

The couple, from France, were found around three hours later.

Rescuers say the avalanche could have been triggered by other climbers.

The injured woman was flown off the mountain to an ambulance and was then taken to Belford Hospital in Fort William.

Last night doctors were considering whether she should be transferred to a hospital in Glasgow.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team leader John Stevenson said "The snow conditions were pretty poor up there.

"There was a lot of stuff just collapsing round the hills. There are big snow fields which are unstable. I would urge any climbers going out to be careful."

Meanwhile, there was a second rescue just a little further south around the same time as the Ben Nevis incident.

Police received a report about 3.30pm of a man having fallen up to 100ft while hill-walking in the Kinlochleven area.

Assistance was provided by Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and the same Royal Navy rescue helicopter.

The injured man, who was conscious, was found and flown to a waiting ambulance and on to Belford Hospital.

Lochaber team members had been avalanched and fell through cornices on the 3615ft Beinn Eibhinn at least four times during a 10-hour rescue on Saturday.

A spokesman for the team said that the conditions in the mountains this year were some of the most extreme they had ever experienced.