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1971: Six dead in Scottish mountain tragedy

Five teenagers and their female instructor have died in one of Scotland's worst mountaineering accidents.

Rescue teams found the bodies buried beneath snow on the 4,084 ft (1,245 m) high Cairngorm, which the party of eight had left to climb three days ago.

The teenagers were all from Ainslie Park School in Edinburgh and had been staying at the city's Lagganlia Outdoor Centre in Kincraig, Aviemore.

The two survivors - party leader Catherine Davidson, 21, and Raymond Leslie, 15 - are in an Inverness hospital recovering from severe exposure and frostbite.

The alarm was raised when the group failed to arrive at their intended destination on Saturday 19 November, but early rescue attempts were hampered by bad weather and were abandoned at dusk.

Police, troops and mountain rescue teams began a new search on Sunday, but that was also called off in the face of the worst blizzards in Scotland this winter.

'Condition improving'

A clearing in the weather on Monday allowed 50 people assisted by several helicopters to return to the mountain.

Miss Davidson was found alone on the eastern side of Cairngorm and directed her rescuers to the location of the rest of the party about half-a-mile (805 metres) away.

The two boys were alive, but one died shortly after the mountain rescue team arrived. All five girls and the assistant instructor, Sheila Sunderland, 19, were dead.

The 15-year-old survivor was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital after being picked up by a Navy helicopter from a small ledge, 3,000 ft up the mountain.

A spokesman for the hospital said his condition was improving.

In Context
The other members of the party who died were: Carol Bertram, Susan Byrne, Corraine Dick, William Kerr and Diane Dudgeon. They were all aged 14 or 15.

Soft snow had made their walk much harder going than expected and the group failed to reach the safety of a mountain hut at the end of the first day of their walk.

They dug a snow shelter but high winds blew most of it away and they had to bear the full brunt of the extreme blizzard conditions.

Although the members of the party were fairly well-equipped, their chances of survival after two nights out were very slim.


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