Ben Nevis climber died during rescue when 'helicopter rope was cut'

Tributes have been paid to a Ben Nevis climber who died during a rescue bid when the helicopter rope was cut, it has been claimed.

Mark Phillips, 51, an environmental health officer with Highland Council, was climbing with a friend in the Raeburn's Buttress area of Ben Nevis when he fell at around 12.30pm on Monday.

Mr Phillips, who became the 11th climber to die in the Scottish mountains this year, fell more than 160ft in the Raeburn's Buttress area on the north face of Britain's highest mountain.

He is survived by his wife Caroline and son Ruaridh who paid tribute to him on Wednesday.

Caroline Phillips said: "On February 25 my beloved husband, Mark, was enjoying the superb conditions the Scottish Highlands were affording. He had spent the previous few days climbing and walking in the hills with friends. Tragically that day he sustained fatal injuries following an incident on Ben Nevis.

"Mark and I together with our son, Ruaridh, had moved to the Highlands about 12 years ago so as to live amongst the hills and community we had got to love.

"Mark was a loving father and husband and will be sorely missed by us and his many friends and work colleagues. Ruaridh and I thank them all for their support.

"I have noted certain speculation in the press surrounding Mark's death. I have entire confidence in the police and the process and I do not want to indulge such speculation."

Two helicopters were scrambled to the scene with Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team but the man died during the rescue, Northern Constabulary said.

In the attempt to get him on board the aircraft, the safety rope was severed before he was brought on to the helicopter, it was reported on Wednesday.

Northern Constabulary are now conducting a full inquiry into the accident but it is believed the rope was cut "before he could be saved".

A spokesman for the force said they would not comment on the investigation.

He added: "The man will not be identified until all next of kin have been informed and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal."

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