Rescue teams searching for two climbers missing for more than a month on Ben Nevis have recovered the bodies of a man and a woman. There has now been confirmation that the bodies are those of Tim Newton and Rachel Slater.
Experienced climbers Tim Newton, 27, and Rachel Slater, 24, were first reported missing on February 15th after failing to return from an expedition on the mountain. Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team have stated that the bodies were found in separate locations in Observatory Gully with rucksacks still containing ropes and gear. Mountain rescuers said early indications suggested that a large avalanche had hit the area. On Wednesday, a climber found the woman’s body at the base of the gully, on the North Face of the peak, and the man’s body was found nearby, at about 18:15, when team members returned to the scene.
Last night, Police Scotland confirmed in a statement earlier today: ‘Formal identification is taking place and the families of missing climbers Rachel Slater and Tim Newton have been informed.’ On Thursday afternoon, there was confirmation that identification had taken place and that the bodies were those of Miss Slater and Mr Newton.
A major hunt was launched for the couple on February 15th involving police, mountain rescue teams, and search and rescue dogs, as fears for their safety grew.
Search efforts were initially hampered by severe weather conditions, including sub-zero temperatures, high winds and avalanche risks. However, a number of searches were carried out when conditions were considered safe enough to do so. Climbers and walkers in the area were also called upon to share information with officials.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team paid tribute to the rescue teams as well as the couple and their families.
“While formal identification has still to take place, we expect them to be confirmed as Rachel and Tim.
“I am sure that everyone will join us in offering our thoughts and sincere condolences to the families and friends of Rachel and Tim. They were well known, experienced and respected climbers and their plight has touched so many people over the last few weeks.”
The message continued: “We have been overwhelmed by the help and support we have received over the last few weeks as we tried to get some clues to where Rachel and Tim may have been going on the day they went missing.
“We would like to thank the whole climbing community for engaging and assisting, even when it was only to eliminate some of the small clues we thought we had obtained.”
Ms Slater, a graduate of Manchester University, was employed as an environment consultant near Bradford. Mr Newton, originally from Leicester, studied physics at Manchester University and was, at the time of his disappearance, studying at the University of Leeds.
Image: Police Scotland