Leeds University Union Hiker Graham Connell Dies After 'Night In Hell' On Scottish Highlands

UPDATE: The hiker has been named by police as Graham Connell, 31, from Castleford, West Yorkshire.

A member of a university hiking society has died and five others were airlifted to safety after a "night in hell" on the Scottish Highlands.

Some 35 members of Leeds University union hiking club were left stranded on the Cairngorm Mountains last weekend after a blizzard hit. An alarm was raised on Sunday around 3pm, after one of the hikers fell, according to the Leeds Student.

A 100-strong team, including dogs and an RAF helicopter, was dispatched to search for the party of six after they were reported missing when they failed to return on Sunday afternoon.

Five members of the group, believed to all have been in their twenties, were rescued by Braemar mountain rescue team shortly after midday on Monday after one member managed to phone police. Mr Connell's body was later recovered about six miles away from the rest of the group near Jacob's Ladder, a sheer gully.

It is still unclear how he fell or became separated from the rest of the group.

Chief Inspector Colin Gough, of Northern Constabulary said the group "have spent a night in hell".

"There was no warning not to go up to the hills. We will identify people in the group who organised to come to the Highlands and get an idea of what happened."

The club's website contains details of the trip, warning the 35 members who were due to be travelling to Scotland: "REMEMBER: Scotland WILL be cold. You WILL need more clothes than you normally do. You WILL need more food than you normally do."

The site adds: "Some keen hikers who value their degrees will be heading back to Leeds on Sunday evening to make it in for lectures on Monday. Well done to them all. The rest of us will be on our THIRD day of winter epicness, yeah! We will head back to Leeds on Monday evening, most likely arriving quite late - be prepared to be a bit bleary-eyed on Tuesday morning."

Donnie Williamson, Cairngorm mountain rescue team's deputy leader said: "We last had contact with [the group] at 3.15pm on Sunday and when they failed to come off the hill, we tried to send a search party up.

"But we were struggling as the weather was horrendous. Winds were gusting to over 70mph and the wind chill factor was estimad at minus 30C. We struggled all night to get up on to the hill and only managed it by 6am."

Condolence messages were left on the club's Facebook page, with one fellow Leeds student saying: "To everyone concerned; get home safely." The club is open to both students at the university and non-students.

Police inquiries into the incident are continuing and a report will be submitted to procurator fiscal.

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