Note to self: Climbing Ben Nevis is not a walk in the park
London - Mountain rescuers were forced to save tourists after they were caught in a blizzard without a map on Britain’s highest peak.
The walkers, three of whom were in unsuitable sports shoes, were brought down off Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands after they were found by a rescue team near the summit.
Wind chill temperatures on the mountain were -20C (68F), with 80mph gusts. The weather was too severe to fly them to safety. The search effort required 22 rescuers.
Once down from the peak, they were taken by helicopter to hospital in Fort William for treatment on Monday evening.
According to members of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, the climbers had "no ice axes, no crampons and ... no maps". They were stuck on a steep patch of ice.
Miller Harris, from the mountain rescue team, said the tourists were visiting from abroad and were lucky to have mobile phone reception when they got into difficulty.
They called the police and used a smartphone app to provide rescuers with their location. Harris said: "If there hadn’t been a phone signal, we would have had no idea what was going on.
"One of them managed to get back to the summit where they met our team and was able to confirm the location where his friends were.
"They were very, very cold, and one was probably hypothermic and was having difficulty walking."
John Stevenson, the rescue team leader, said they gave the climbers "a piece of our minds" after finding them. He said: "It was sheer stupidity. They were a bunch of idiots. We have never had to rescue people in trainers in winter before.
"They are so lucky to be alive," he said.