Members of Lochaber mountain rescue team were in engaged in a race

against time last night to save a climber found alive on Ben Nevis 12

hours after he fell during a 1500ft rock climb on the North-east


Mr Martin Rayner, of Evesham, Worcestershire, had been clmbing with

German-born Sacha Backes, 22, from Swathling, Southampton, who was

rescued earlier yesterday.

Mr Rayner was found still attached to his rope against the ice covered

Orion's Face and is believed to have very serious head injuries.

The rescue team placed him in a stretcher and winched him by rope to

the summit area.

In an incredible feat of endurance they then began to carry the

casualty, who was reported to be seriously ill at that point, off the


An RAF Sea King helicopter, which has been standing by at Fort

William, can only fly to a point below the cloud base.

One of the RAF's most experienced rescue pilots, Flight Lieutenant

John Prince was waiting at the controls.

The pilot and crew have been waiting at the West End Car Park in Fort

William ready to take off for the rendezvous point at a moment's notice.

The casualty was expected to be picked up in the helicopter during the

night and taken initially to Belford Hospital at Fort William.

Mr Backes's condition was last night described as stable although a

Belford Hospital spokesman said he was suffering from ''fairly severe

frostbite and hypothermia''.

Meanwhile, hopes of finding 24-year-old Glasgow climber Allan Sands

still alive in the hills above Glencoe were fading last night.

Despite a high risk of avalanche, around 100 rescuers aided by tracker

dogs and a Royal Navy helicopter resumed their search for Mr Sands, a

bookshop manager from Torrisdale Street, Strathbungo, Glasgow.

He has been missing in the White Corries area since Friday, having

left no details of his proposed route.

It is understood he had only been equipped for a day's climb. When Mr

John Grieve, the leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, stood the

search down yesterday afternoon, he said there was little chance of

finding Mr Sands alive after three nights in the mountains.

The father and mother of Mr Sands, Alex and Nancy, arrived in Glencoe

yesterday from their home in East Kilbride. Inspector John MacDonald, of

the Northern Constabulary, said last night: ''The search for Mr Sands

will resume in the morning, but it will be scaled down.''

Neighbours of Mr and Mrs Sands in East Kilbride were last night keenly

following the search for Mr Sands.

They said Mr Sands, an only child, was a graduate of Stirling

University. ''We are all hoping,'' said one. ''Allan is a very pleasant

boy, cheerful and good natured.''

As the Glencoe search was about to begin again yesterday morning a

report was received at Fort William Police Station by radiophone from a

climbers' hut at the foot of the north face of Ben Nevis that two

climbers were in difficulties on the North East Buttress.

Climbers in the hut had heard cries of help coming from the buttress.

The helicopter from HMS Gannet at Prestwick which had been assisting at

Glencoe was diverted to Ben Nevis.

After airlifting three members of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team on

to the summit of the Ben, the helicopter crew managed to pick Mr Backes

off the face and take him down to safety. Rescue efforts were

subsquently delayed by a false report that another two climbers were

cragfast on the Orion Face.

The rescue team leader, Mr Terry Confield, said: ''Conditions near the

summit were very bad indeed, with high winds and avalanche risks.

''At one point, leading off the summit and into Coire Leis, the snow

was driving so hard we could hardly walk against it.''