RELATIVES of a climber who died in the Highlands has described him as a devoted family man.

David Beattie, 54, from the Aberdeen area, died in the Fannichs, south of Ullapool, last weekend. His death brings the total number who have lost their lives in the Scottish mountains this year to 16, with another two still missing in Skye and Knoydart.

Mr Beattie was married with a grown-up daughter and son. He ran his own plumbing business and had been an enthusiastic climber for years.

His sister, Karen Corrigal, said: "He loved hillwalking and he was very experienced and well-prepared. He had GPS, he told people where he was going, he did everything right. His whole life revolved around his wife Lindsay and the kids."

Meanwhile, the searches for two other missing climbers have been scaled down.

Journalist Clive Dennier, 50, was reported missing when he failed to turn up for work at the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald on March 25. He had spoken of going hillwalking the previous weekend. His car was later found at Kinlochourn, suggesting he had been heading to the Knoydart Peninsula.

Two weeks later Oliver Smith, 33, a lecturer in Russian at St Andrews University who lives in Cupar in Fife, went missing on Skye. It is understood he had gone to Skye for the weekend with his partner Shelly Jacobsen and their one-year-old daughter.

It is known he had intended to climb the 3044ft mountain Blaven, regarded as an outlier of the main Cuillin Ridge, then descend and walk via Loch Coruisk and the coastal path to Elgol on the shores of Loch Scavaig towards the end of the Strathaird peninsula in the south of the island.

Heather Morning, of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: "The average number of fatalities in a mountaineering environment in Scotland is around 21 a year. So obviously this is going to be higher than average. The seven people who were lost in avalanches in Glen Coe and the Cairngorms have, sadly, increased the figures in the early months of the year."