Climbing pioneer Andy Nisbet dies in Ben Hope climbing accident

A man who helped establish 1,000 winter climbing routes has died in an accident on Ben Hope.

Aberdeen-born Andy Nisbet, 65, was climbing the mountain with his partner Steve Perry, 47, from Lancaster, when they ran into trouble.

Their bodies were recovered from the mountain in Sutherland after being discovered shortly after 2am on Wednesday.

It is believed the two men had finished their ascent and fell while on the upper slopes of Ben Hope, Scotland’s most northerly Munro, which rises to a height of 927m (3,041ft).

Mr Nisbet and Mr Perry were both renowned in the climbing community and many have paid tribute to the pair.

Remembered as a “pioneer” with “boundless enthusiasm,” Mr Nisbet’s appearance earned him nicknames such as “Honey Monster” and “The Droid”.

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".

David Whalley, a former RAF mountain rescue team leader said Scottish Mountaineering had “lost two of the best.”

“Andy was always climbing especially in winter with his many friends many who are some of the best winter climbers in the UK, that was who and what he lived for,” he wrote on his blog Heavy Whalley.

“He was the most active prolific Mountaineer that Scotland has ever produced.

“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.

“They were driving forces in the late development of Ben Hope, a mountain largely neglected until recent seasons,” she wrote.

The tragedy is the latest in a number of mountain casualities this winter.

Four other hillwalkers and climbers have died in accidents since December.