Miracle escape for Kildare climbers who turned back from mountain before avalanche killed 3

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Miracle escape for Kildare climbers who turned back from mountain before avalanche killed 3
11:00 Friday 15th of March 2019

Two Kildare climbers decided to turn back in the Scottish Highlands less than an hour before an avalanche killed three people this week.

Eoin Donnelly, 20, and Jean Gill, 20, had travelled to Scotland to try and reach the UK's highest summit, Ben Nevis.

At 1,345m high, Ben Nevis is around 300m higher than Carrauntoohil.

The pair had camped on the mountain overnight in poor conditions and only decided to turn back less than 40 minutes before the avalanche struck, killing three people.

Two Frenchmen aged 41 and 32 and a Swiss man (43) lost their lives in the incident.

ABOVE: Jean took a photo of Eoin walking along a mountain ledge on Ben Nevis

Jean said: "When we started it wasn't too bad, we got near to the lake and it was so windy - there were hailstones blowing into our face.

"We basically had to change our plans and turn around because it was getting too dangerous, because the wind was so strong it was really hard to walk with it blowing against us."

Eoin added: "The wind was so, so bad - you couldn't open your eyes the hail was so bad.

"I'd say there was about a foot of snow. It was just really, really scary.

"Once you got to the point the ground was frozen over so you wouldn't have been able to cross without crampons or proper climbing gear.

"When we did decided to turn around we said 'we need to go home - this is too dangerous'.

"We crossed a guide with a group of hill-climbers and he was like 'these people want to go up there, but there's no chance.'

"Even an experienced climber with climbing gear would be crazy to go, because the weather was so dangerous."

The pair packed up their camping gear on the way back down and booked into a nearby hostel.

They only learned there were fatal casualties the next morning.

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