Highlands & Islands

Skye rockfall survivor dubbed 'iron man' speaks

Mike Stansfield
Image caption Mike Stansfield has been receiving treatment to his injuries at Inverness's Raigmore Hospital

A hurt climber described as "some kind of iron man" after raising the alarm about a rockfall that claimed a woman's life has spoken from his hospital bed.

Mike Stansfield, of Leeds, managed to get down the mountain after the incident on Skye which killed Tessa Cousins, 56, from South Africa.

A mountain rescuer called to the scene in the Cuillin hills on Tuesday dubbed Mr Stansfield "iron man".

The climber said his actions were carried out while in shock.

Ms Cousins, a grandmother of seven from Cape Town, was described by her family as a "fearless explorer" who was passionate about the outdoors.

Mr Stansfield, who has been receiving treatment at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, was injured along with another man and a woman.

They were among groups of people on the popular Cioch Direct climb.

Mr Stansfield, who now lives in Stafford, said: "I heard a crack and people shouting rocks. Then this big boulder came.

"I closed my eyes and thought 'this is going to hurt'."

Mr Stansfield believed long hard winters were to blame for loosening rocks on the classic route.

He said debris and loose rocks were usually cleared away by thousands of climbers who tackle it every year.

Image caption Tessa Cousins was described as "fearless" by her family

Mr Stansfield has a broken arm and has been told by doctors he will lose a finger once an infection has been treated.

The boulder was dislodged by Ms Cousins' climbing partner, one of the three who were injured.

In a newly-released statement, her family described her as a "fearless explorer and climber".

She had worked in rural development in Lesotho and Zululand.

Ms Cousins' career had included working for non-government organisations (NGOs).

Her family said: "Tessa was a fearless explorer and climber from early childhood and loved the outdoors.

"She loved the earth and the wilderness and learned to farm as a smallholder in Stilbaai as a young woman."

Relatives added: "She lived life to the full, delighting in the mountains and in the sea, sharing these passions with her dearly beloved partner Dirk Versfeld."

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