Climber breaks silence after surviving UK avalanch
The sole survivor of a deadly avalanche on the UK’s highest mountain has described the eerie silence that met him after he and three of his friends were swept away and buried in thick snow.
Mathieu Biselx was trekking with three of his closest friends on Scottish mountain Ben Nevis when they were hit by a “massive” torrent of snow and ice.
The 30-year-old said the group were “not very high” up when they suddenly heard a noise.
“One of us yelled: ‘Avalanche’. We got into a safe position but in two seconds we were swept away by heavy, compact snow,” he told The Mirror from his hospital bed.
“I felt myself fly through the rocks.”
Mr Biselx, who is President of the Club Alpin Suisse in Sion, said when the terrifying snow slide came to a stop he found himself trapped under the snow with his head free. It was at this moment the magnitude of the situation hit him.
“I called my friends, I shouted. No response,” he said.
Two of Mr Biselx’s friends died in the avalanche, while the third man died as rescue teams attempted to move him to safety, The Mirror said. The men were aged 33, 42 and 43.
“We had dreamed of this trip for weeks. My three closest friends are dead… it’s horrible,” he said, adding that the trip was suggested by the friends as a way to cheer Mr Biselx up after he was going through a difficult time personally.
Donald Paterson, deputy team leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, said the four men had been hit by a "massive" avalanche that fell 450 metres on top of them.
"One of the climbers died pretty instantaneously, the other had CPR for half an hour but sadly did not respond and the other died while being taken down the mountain,” he said.
"The fourth - they were all young men - was in a serious condition and stretchered halfway down the mountain to a helicopter that took him to hospital in Glasgow.”
An air ambulance, three ambulances and a trauma team were later sent to the peak, the Scottish Ambulance Service said in a separate statement.
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service has warned that there is a high risk of avalanches in the area at the moment.
"This is absolutely tragic news," Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted.
"My thoughts are very much with the bereaved and injured. And my gratitude as always for the work of our emergency services, Mountain Rescue and Coastguard.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, standing at 1,343 metres.
- 14 Mar, 2019
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