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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 21:20 GMT
Lost men criticised by rescuers
Allan Topp
Mr Topp said he was thankful to be alive
Four men rescued from the Cairngorms after being stranded overnight in blizzards have been criticised for their lack of navigational skills.

Allan Topp, Gavin Snow, Douglas Cowie and David Grant, from Buckie, got lost as they descended Ben Macdui.

They raised the alarm by mobile phone on Thursday morning after spending the night in survival bags.

However, the men thought they were near the summit of Cairn Gorm, which is a number of miles away.

John Allen, of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team, said: "This party had decent equipment.

"What they were unable to do was navigate and that's a basic elemental skill that you should have going into hills in the winter.

Where they said they were was miles from where they actually were
Graham Gibb
Braemar Mountain Rescue

"In these conditions, navigation is absolutely essential."

Inspector Graham Gibb, of Braemar Mountain Rescue Team, who co-ordinated the search, said the men were lucky to be alive.

"I would say they were very lucky," he said. "We were looking for a needle in a haystack.

"Where they said they were was miles from where they actually were.

"If we had failed to find them. I don't think they could have survived another night under the conditions that were forecast."

Ben Macdui. Picture courtesy of Freephoto.com
The men became lost as they descended Ben Macdui

After being brought off the 4,300ft mountain, Mr Topp told the BBC: "It just goes to show no matter how much you think you're experienced, you never know what the weather is going to throw at you.

"It's just pure luck and thanks to God up there that we are here now.

"I'm just going to go home, get a warm drink, cuddle up next to my wife and be thankful I'm alive."

'Inhospitable and vicious'

Four mountain rescue teams were involved in the search, however an RAF helicopter had to turn back due to the weather conditions.

RAF spokesman Michael Mulford said: "This is one of the most inhospitable, vicious places in the whole of the UK, so we are glad they have been found."

After becoming lost the men called Tayside Police by mobile phone, who contacted the Grampian force.

They were found at 1300 GMT on Thursday by members of the Glenmore Lodge mountain rescue team.

Teams from RAF Kinloss, Cairngorm and Braemar were also involved in the search.

Watch the men arrive back from the mountain

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