Highlands & Islands

Runner tells of relief at surviving sub-zero Cairngorms

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Media captionKevin Steenson says he is lucky to be alive.

An activities instructor who went missing in the Cairngorms has spoken of his relief at being found after a five-hour search operation.

Kevin Steenson, 25, from Dumfries, had been out for what was meant to be an hour-long run with friends when he fell behind and became lost on Tuesday.

He told BBC Scotland he was lucky to survive freezing temperatures dressed only in running kit.

Members of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team found him at about 22:20.

The rescuers were assisted by an RAF search and rescue helicopter.

Mr Steenson was part of a group of six that had set off from the Sugarbowl, near Loch Morlich, together.

They followed a looping route that took them towards the Lairg Ghru, but Mr Steenson fell behind and, because he was concentrating on where he was putting his feet, took a wrong turning.

He attempted to retrace his steps but was hampered by the dark and low visibility.

Image caption Mr Steenson set off for a run in the foothills of the Cairngorms
Image caption The runner got separated from his friends and took a wrong turn

A search operation was under way as Mr Steenson had been reported missing by his colleagues at 17:00.

He said: "I could see a helicopter in the distance and I made my way towards it and then it took off.

"I was always trying to hear out for it and I decided to head up a hill."

However, the terrain was difficult in the dark and Mr Steenson said he was also getting colder as the time reached about 21:30.

"My hands were feeling numb. I was shaking. I tried to find shelter. I was a bit disorientated and was starting to slow down."

If you have no equipment or you don't know how to use it, then the outcome could be rather grave

Willie Anderson, Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team
THINKSTOCK

Eventually he caught sight of flickering lights of the mountain rescue team and a flare was set off in response to his shouts.

Guided by a second flare, Mr Steenson succeeded in meeting up with the searchers.

He said: "I was relieved. Really relieved, happy and grateful."

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team told the BBC on Tuesday night that finding the runner in the sub-zero conditions was "remarkable"

Willie Anderson, leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, later told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that the man appeared to be "fine", but that the outcome could have been much worse.

He said: "It's not full winter conditions yet but certainly there was snow up there and some ice around and the difference of going into the mountains in summer and winter really is night and day.

"You could get away with a mistake in the summer but come this time of year, in the winter, if you have no equipment or you don't know how to use it, then the outcome could be rather grave."

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