Two men who lost their lives in a Scottish Highlands mountaineering trip have been described as giants of the climbing world.
Aberdeen-born Andy Nisbet and Inverness-based Steve Perry got into difficulty on Ben Hope on Tuesday.
Their bodies were recovered from the mountain in Sutherland on Wednesday.
Fellow climbers paid tribute to the pair, who were highly experienced and regarded, with one saying they were “gargantuan characters”.
Mr Nisbet, who helped establish 1,000 winter climbing routes, was lauded for his “boundless enthusiasm” and “pioneering attitude”.
Mr Perry, an accomplished hillwalker, mountain biker and climber, was originally from Lancaster and grew up in Todmorden in Yorkshire.
It is believed that the men, who were regular climbing partners, had finished their ascent and fell while on the upper slopes of the 927m (3,041ft) Munro classed mountain.
Both were highly experienced and Mr Nisbet’s appearance and climbing style earned him the nicknames “Honey Monster” and “The Droid”.
At the 2014 Fort William Mountain Festival he received the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.
Information gathered on climbs by the 65-year-old former Scottish Mountaineering Club president appeared in Scottish Mountaineering Club guidebooks.
- Munros are Scottish mountains above 3,000ft (914.4 m).
- The name came from explorer Sir Hugh Munro who made it his mission to create a list of peaks greater than 3,000ft
- There are 282 Munros and they include Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis and peaks in Skye.
- Ben Hope is Scotland’s most northerly Munro.
- Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry are believed to have been establishing new winter climbing routes on the mountain.
Mr Perry, 47, was also a highly experienced climber.
Mountaineer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish said he was “utterly devastated” at the news of the men’s deaths.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: “They were both gargantuan characters.”
Mr McNeish said climbers knew there would be risks tackling Scotland’s mountains in winter and the pair would have “managed the risks as well as they could”.
He added that “sometimes accidents happen”.
Giving his tribute, David Whalley, a former RAF mountain rescue team leader, said: “I knew Andy very well. He was roughly the same age as me, but what an incredible mountaineer in every aspect.
“He was the most active prolific mountaineer that Scotland has ever produced.
“He has climbed over 1,000-plus new winter routes all over Scotland – his enthusiasm was dynamic.
“Never in the history of Scottish mountaineering has anyone been so prolific or enthusiastic and introduced so many to the mountains especially in winter.”
Writing in a UK Climbing blog, climber Natalie Berry, who was winner of 2016’s Scottish Youth Ambassador for Mountain Culture award, said the men had a “strong” climbing partnership.
Mountaineering Scotland, an organisation representing outdoor pursuits enthusiasts, said it was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the climbers’ deaths.
A spokesman said: “Andy was popular and well respected in the Scottish climbing scene with a vast knowledge and experience of Scotland’s mountains.
“He was a prolific climber of new routes and his successful partnership with Steve had resulted in a number of first ascents on Ben Hope in recent years.
“Steve Perry was also a well-known mountaineer, who had completed an on-foot round of the Munros in the winter of 2005-06 and was a keen climber in both summer and winter, who listed new routing in winter Scotland as one of his favourite climbing experiences.
“Their deaths are a huge loss to the mountaineering community in Scotland and, in particular, we send our condolences to family and friends of both Andy and Steve.”
Mountaineering Scotland also paid tribute to mountain rescue teams and the Coastguard who were involved in responding to the accident.
Assynt Mountain Rescue Team was supported by Stornoway and Inverness Coastguard helicopter crews, police and also Dundonnell and Lossiemouth mountain rescue teams in recovering the climbers’ bodies.
Rescue teams and the Coastguard had earlier been involved in a search for the two men.
The Assynt team said: “Our sincere condolences and thoughts go out to all the family and friends, many of whom are involved in mountain rescue.”
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