Search for lost climber is fruitless

THE search for an Essex climber who is missing in the Scottish Highlands ended at the weekend with no sigh of the missing man.Gavin Nightingale, 39, failed to return from a climb on the north face of Ben Nevis on February 11.

THE search for an Essex climber who is missing in the Scottish Highlands ended at the weekend with no sigh of the missing man.

Gavin Nightingale, 39, failed to return from a climb on the north face of Ben Nevis on February 11.

Mr Nightingale, a journalist from Colchester, was an experienced climber who was believed to be well equipped when he set off from a youth hostel close to the mountain.

Search and rescue teams began looking for him last weekend but were hampered by the fact he had not left a route map with details of where he was going.


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Harsh weather conditions meant the search could not take place during the week but mountain rescue teams returned to Ben Nevis on Saturday in a bid to find Mr Nightingale.

A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said yesterday that mountain rescue teams had searched throughout Saturday but found no trace of Mr Nightingale.

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Yesterday the search teams were diverted to recover a body following a fatal climbing accident on Ben Nevis on Saturday.

The spokesman said a further search would be unlikely to happen until a thaw in the weather which could be in around a fortnight's time.

He said: "The area covered yesterday (Saturday) was all the places the search and rescue team could safely go into.

"We carried out as extensive a search as we could but we have to consider the safety of the rescue teams.

"There are 15-20ft snow drifts in some areas where we could not get into and there is also the risk of avalanche."

The spokesman said search efforts had been hampered by the lack of information about exactly where Mr Nightingale intended to walk.

"We are talking about a massive area. We had 20 rescuers and two search and rescue dogs yesterday and a helicopter up when the weather was suitable," he said.

He admitted hopes of finding Mr Nightingale alive were fading but added: "Never say never."

Terry Canfield, team leader of the mountain rescue team, said: "I think the time is now right that we should call off the search.

"A lot of effort has been put in for this particular gentleman but we haven't turned him up."

A family liaison officer from Essex Police is understood to be keeping Mr Nightingale's family informed about the search efforts. They declined to comment yesterday.

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