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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Climber 'serious' after Nevis fall
Tim Harper
Mr Harper: Fell 700ft down No4 Gully
A climber is fighting for his life after falling 700ft down Ben Nevis in an accident witnessed by mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington.

Journalist Tim Harper's condition is described as "very serious" after suffering head injuries in the fall down No 4 Gully of Britain's highest peak.

Mr Harper, from Polmont, near Falkirk, was taken to Belford Hospital in Fort William, but was later transferred to the Southern General in Glasgow.

Sir Chris, who was also climbing the mountain at the time, was one of the first on the scene.

Sir Chris Bonington
Sir Chris was on Ben Nevis at the time
Mr Harper was with a group of climbers when he fell at about 1330 BST on Monday.

He is thought to have plunged through an overhang of snow.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were quickly on the scene and took Mr Harper to hospital.

A spokesman said: "Chris Bonington was on the mountain at the time and came to assist the fallen climber.

"He helped assemble the stretcher and generally assist the mountain rescue personnel.

"Fortunately, because the rescue teams were at the scene quickly, there was not a lot more he needed to do."

When the alarm was raised, the mountain rescue team and RAF Lossiemouth were magnificent.

Sir Chris Bonington
Sir Chris told the Daily Record of the efforts to save the climber.

He said: "As we were coming down we saw blood marks in the snow and we knew something was wrong.

"At the foot of the gully there was a small group of people surrounding Tim.

"They knew he had suffered head injuries but they faced a dreadful dilemma.

"With head or spine injuries the person should not be moved. But because Tim had stopped breathing, they had to put him in the recovery position to revive him.

"They did exactly the right thing because he started breathing again. When the alarm was raised, the mountain rescue team and RAF Lossiemouth were magnificent.

Textbook fashion

"They were there very quickly and all I can say is that their dedication and professionalism was quite extraordinary."

Sir Chris said Mr Harper and his companion were well-equipped and had been descending in "textbook fashion".

He added: "My thoughts are with Tim and his family at this moment."

Mr Harper's wife Alison, 38, has been told that the next day or so will be crucial.

She said: "I am just praying he can come through. The waiting is terrible, it is just a nightmare.

"I saw Tim in hospital and it was most upsetting. I am so grateful to the climbers and the rescue services for what they did."

Multiple head injuries

Experienced climber Mr Harper has worked in journalism for 21 years and joined the Daily Record six years ago.

Dr Brian Tregaskis, a consultant physician at the Belford Hospital, said Mr Harper had suffered multiple head and chest injuries.

Dr Tregaskis, 42, was one of three Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team members airlifted to the scene.

He said: "We did all the basic stuff very quickly and got him off the hill breathing, which is the main thing, and then took him straight into the hospital."

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See also:

14 Dec 00 | Scotland
Death group guide 'not to blame'
20 Nov 00 | Scotland
Winter warning as climbers rescued
04 Jul 00 | Scotland
Women 'terrified' by Nevis descent
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