UKC

Avalanche Kills Three In Glencoe

© malk
Three men have been tragically killed in an avalanche on Buachaille Etive Mòr, Glencoe, Scotland. The accident happened yesterday (Saturday 24th Jan) at around 12.15 in the afternoon.

The avalanche struck in Coire na Tulaich, the large coire to the west of the main summit of Stob Dearg. The coire is clearly visible from the A82 road through Glencoe and is considered the easiest way up to the summit of the Buachaille in summer.

You can view an Ordnance Survey map of the mountain here: OS Get-A-Map

The three casualties have been named as Eamonn Murphy, 61, John Murphy, 63 and Brian Murray.

In an interview with the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, John Grieve, the leader of the rescue team, described how the accident occurred:

"The snow up there is under tremendous tension," said Grieve. "All it takes is something to break that tension and it causes an avalanche, something as simple as walking across it..."

"A guy was walking up the hill and the snow below him broke off under his feet. He had his ice axe with him and was able to put his ice axe into the snow and hold on, so he did not go down with the avalanche. He's obviously feeling bloody shocked about this."

"It was the guy at the top who came down and told us what had happened. He's feeling pretty grim. It's not his fault in any way, but he's a bit upset about it."

Posting on Pistehors.com, David Gunn MBE (UKC Profile), a paramedic from the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team who was present at the rescue, said:

"...They were swept 500 feet from a cornice scarp on the normal ascent route of the mountain Buachaille Etive.  All 3 were in cardiac arrest.  2 were dug out by companions and one was located by spot probe. 

Glencoe Mountain Rescue attended assisted by a Sea King helicopter from RNAS Gannet. The 3 victims were transferred to Belford Hospital Fort William where resuscitation attempts proved unsuccessful.  This voie normal has seen many fatal avalanches over the years..."

More snow and high wind is forecast for the coming week meaning avalanche risk could increase. Today's outlook (Glencoe area) from the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service is a Category 4 risk:

"There will be snow showers accompanied by Southerly winds these will back becoming Easterly winds and very strong. Accumulations of unstable soft slab will continue to develop in all sheltered locations. The greatest deposits will be on slopes and in gullies with a West through North to East aspect above 800 metres. The snowpack especially on steeper slopes will be unstable containing several layers of weakly bonded slab where avalanches will occur. The avalanche hazard will be High (Category 4)."


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24 Jan, 2009
24 Jan, 2009
I had wondered what the rescue helicopters were doing up and about. Really hope everyone involved is safe and unhurt.
24 Jan, 2009
Latest from their News Channel Live confirms 'there have been casualties', which sadly doesn't sound good.
24 Jan, 2009
I'm hoping against hope for a good outcome. But as you say, it sounds bad.
24 Jan, 2009
Latest: 'two climbers taken to hospital and rescue dogs search for a third.'
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