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Mountain warning as three searches continue

Marcin Bialas, Neil Gibson and Jim Stalker have all failed to return from walks in the Scottish Highlands over the last month and remain missing

Walkers and climbers are being urged to be prepared for “full winter conditions” in the Scottish Highlands as searches continue for three men missing on separate hikes over the last month.

Avalanche risks have hindered attempts to find Marcin Bialas, Neil Gibson and Jim Stalker but volunteers and mountaineers have been searching when the weather allows.

Mr Bialas, 36, was reported missing in an area close to Observatory Gully and Gardyloo Gully on Ben Nevis on January 21 but helicopter and foot searches have found no trace of him.

Mr Gibson, 63, failed to return from a planned a walk with his brother in the Achnashellach area in Strathcarron on February 8.

The body of his brother Alan was found two days later in the Beinn Liath Mhor area and the remains of their dog were recovered this week but Mr Gibson has not been located.

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In the third search, Mr Stalker remains missing after a fall near the summit of Beinn a Chaorainn on February 11.

John Stevenson, leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, said: “We are still experiencing full winter conditions on Ben Nevis and the wider Lochaber area and they are challenging.

“We urge any visiting climbers and walkers to the area  to be fully prepared prior to venturing out. Always check weather forecasts, avalanche reports and plan your routes;  have alternative routes if weather conditions are not suitable when you arrive.

“Walkers should have a full complement of winter equipment, clothing, navigation and safety aids before attempting any walk or climb.”

Police Scotland Inspector Nick Hough said the force remains committed to finding the men.

“Large accumulations of snow remain and there is currently a high risk of avalanche in the areas,” he said.

“I wish to express my thanks to all the volunteers and partner search agencies that have already made considerable efforts to search for the missing walkers.

“Their continued commitment is appreciated by Police Scotland and the friends and families of the missing persons.”

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