Scotland Avalanche: Prayers For Four Victims

A female climber left fighting for her life after an avalanche that killed four has been moved from the Scottish Highlands to a hospital in Glasgow.

Police say the 24-year-old suffered serious head injuries and is in a critical condition in the city's Southern General Hospital, where members of her family are with her.

The victims - two women and two men - were among a party of six walking on Bidean Nam Bian, a mountain near Glencoe, on Saturday.

It is believed they were climbing down a peak when the snow-covered slope they were crossing gave way.

Five people in total were engulfed in a wall of ice and snow and sent hundreds of feet down the mountain.

A major search operation involving mountain rescue teams and police dogs was launched and the four bodies were found under the snow, while another man was unhurt.

Prayers have been said for the dead climbers at a private service at St Munda's Church in nearby Ballachulish.

Rev Moira Herkes told the congregation: "We include in our prayers thoughts for the deceased in yesterday's tragic accident on the mountain and their families.

"Somehow life must continue. We accept the challenges of nature as part of our living."

She added: "We also pray for the people who are injured, both physically and emotionally.

"And we give our thanks to those prepared to risk their lives in the saving of others, and do so with a sense of commitment and through thinking beyond themselves."

The alarm was initially raised by two other climbers not in the stricken party after they found one of the victims lying in the snow.

The sole male survivor then contacted police to say more people were missing.

John Grieve, leader of Glencoe mountain rescue team, which co-ordinated the search, said: "The first call to police was from two other people who had been on the mountain.

"They found someone lying next to where they were climbing. So, the assumption was that it was just one casualty, but it became clear that there were others missing when they heard from the man who is safe."

He said the dead climbers were located using a technique called "probing", where a metal stick is pushed into the snow.

"I'm not sure how deeply buried they were, but using that technique would suggest it was more than a metre," Mr Grieve, who was not involved in the search, said.

All of the missing climbers, who are yet to be named, were located within four hours of the alarm being raised.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is an appalling tragedy and our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been lost.

"To lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating."

Bidean Nam Bian is a Munro - a mountain with a height in excess of 3,000ft - with a number of different climbs.

Anyone who is concerned about relatives climbing in the area are advised to contact Northern Constabulary's control room on 01463 715555.