HOPES of finding alive a 53-year-old woman climber, thought to have

fallen 450ft during a white-out in the Cairngorms, were fading late

yesterday afternoon as the search for her was called off.

The search will resume today for Mrs Jacqueline Greaves, a school

secretary from Warrington who was climbing with two male companions when

the accident happened on Sunday evening. Conditions in the area

yesterday were said to be almost like Siberia. The temperature,

including wind chill, dropped as low as -25C at times.

More than 70 volunteer rescuers from five mountain rescue teams combed

the area for Mrs Greaves but the weather was so bad that a Sea King

rescue helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth could be used only in spells.

Some rescue team members had to dig into snowholes and spend the night

on the hills on Sunday.

Mrs Greaves has 15 years climbing experience, although not in the

Scottish mountains. She had done a safety course recently on how to dig

in and keep warm in the snow.

Her two companions, teachers Mr Bruce Nutter, 49, of Leigh,

Lancashire, and Mr David Cawley, 29, of Pemberton, Lancashire, fell

through a snow cornice and escaped with minor injuries while they were

descending Coire an Lochan Uaine on 3500ft Derry Cairngorm, north-west

of Braemar. It is thought that Mrs Greaves plunged past them as they

clung to the sides of the corrie.

Mountain rescue teams from RAF Kinloss, RAF Leuchars, Aberdeen,

Braemar, and Grampian Police resumed the search at first light


Search co-ordinator Mr Graham Gibb said that the helicopter had

spotted footprints at 1am yesterday and the search had been concentrated

there. All three climbers were said to be well equipped and rescuers

refused to criticise them.

Mr Gibb said: ''With the passage of time, the chances of survival

decrease but we have to remain hopeful. There is no reason why she

should not have survived.''

Mr Nutter told rescue leaders yesterday that he was the first to fall.

After plunging 50ft, he caught the side of the corrie with his ice axe.

''I was hanging on for dear life, then I saw David falling past me,'' he

said. ''I heard someone calling my name after that but I do not know if

it was Jacqueline.''

Mr Nutter was able to free himself but lost his bearings and wandered

for 4[1/2] hours in Arctic conditions. before meeting members of the

mountain rescue team.

Mr Cawley told rescuers that he saw Mr Nutter disappearing down the

cornice and stared at him through a hole in the snow before the ground

gave way underneath him. He fell 200ft before he was able to stop.

Since giving an initial account of what happened, Mr Cawley has been

unable to speak coherently and is ''lapsing in and out of shock''.

Mr Ron Greaves was waiting for news of his wife at his home in Lowton,

Greater Manchester, last night. This is the second tragedy to hit the

family. Six years ago, his daughter Lesley, 18, was found dead in her MG

sports car submerged in a ditch after being missing for two weeks.