Climbing pioneer was one of Munro dead

Andy NisbetImage copyright
Dave McGimpsey

Image caption

Andy Nisbet in an image released at the time he won Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

A man who helped establish 1,000 winter climbing routes was one of the two climbers who died in an accident on Scotland’s most northerly Munro.

Aberdeen-born Andy Nisbet, along with partner Steve Perry, from Lancaster, got into difficulty on Ben Hope.

Their bodies were recovered from the mountain in Sutherland on Wednesday.

The climbing community has paid tributes to the two men, with Mr Nisbet being lauded for his “boundless enthusiasm” and “pioneering attitude”.

It is believed that the men, who were regular climbing partners, had finished a climbing route and fell while on the upper slopes of the 927m (3,041ft) 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.

Inverness-based Mr Perry, 47, was also a highly experienced climber.

‘Utterly devastated’

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.”

Image copyright
Richard Webb/Geograph

Image caption

The bodies of the men were found by a Coastguard helicopter crew on the north-west side of the mountain

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.

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