The quartet, described as “a bunch of idiots” by the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, were stuck near the summit of the 4,413ft-high mountain in Scotland amid a freezing blizzard during Storm Ciara. They had been the subject of a rescue mission, with three found in trainers, with little mountain climbing equipment, with their rescuers calling them “stupid” for attempting the climb in such conditions. Today, the men – who spoke little English – issued an apology and gifted their 22 rescuers £200, some wine, chocolates and whiskey as a thank you.
LMRT said the men – who were visiting Scotland – had admitted a “significant error of judgement and are extremely sorry for the results of their actions”.
The statement read: “The guys were just members of the public who perhaps were unaware of what they were getting into.
“Not being from the UK and with very limited English, a lot of the information available to mountaineers and hill walkers would not have been accessible to them, so perhaps there is an element of mitigation in respect of their actions, clothing and lack of equipment.
“At present money from the Scottish Government is channelled, via Sportscotland, quite rightly so, into the (Scottish) Avalanche Information Service and for training and education through centres like Glenmore Lodge (the Scottish national outdoor centre) and agencies such as Mountaineering Scotland.
“Most of this will be targeted at people who are either engaged in the sport or have an interest in taking it up. Perhaps more thought needs to be given into how to inform the general public/casual tourist about how dangerous our small mountains are and how severe our weather can get and how it will catch out the unwary and uninformed at any time of the year.”
The team requested the public back off from criticising them.
The statement continued: “Unfortunately it takes incidents like yesterdays to raise the profile in the media and the message has definitely got out. So there is a positive from the incident. Therefore, let us just cut the guys a little bit of slack.
“For those who call for charging and insurance for mountaineers/hill walkers, be careful what you ask for, as where do you stop? Insurance for fishing, rugby, football all of which have more incidents and injuries than mountaineering.
“Mountain rescuers are all mountaineers who volunteer their services at absolutely minimal cost to the public purse. Insurance would lead to a professional service, which, for yesterdays incident would have required about 30 full time paid people on one single shift plus equipment etc to have been able carry out and then you have the admin, health and safety, bean counter et al – all funded by tax payer.
“Leave as is, as we have a world class voluntary mountain rescue service which delivers via public donations.”
“They were about 150 metres down into Coire Eoghainn on steep ice and if they had slipped or gone down any further consequences could have far more serious.
“Fantastic effort by the Team members to find them and get them down safely.”