Tributes have been paid to a teacher who was killed after an avalanche on the north face of Ben Nevis.

Mark Bessell, 48, from Bristol died climbing the mountain on 30 December after an avalanche slide of approximately 600m occurred.

Police Scotland said that Mr Bessell’s climbing partner, aged 40, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was treated in hospital.

He was described as a “well-respected and long-standing member of our staff,” by Ashton Park School headteacher Richard Uffendell.

In a statement posted to the school’s website, Mr Uffendell wrote: “Mark was climbing on Ben Nevis and was caught in an avalanche. Mark suffered a significant fall and despite the efforts of mountain rescue has sadly passed away.

“Mark was a huge part of Ashton Park and he will be hugely missed, but never forgotten.

“Our deepest sympathies go to the family and especially (Mr Bessell’s wife) Charlie, during this very difficult and upsetting time.”

A view of the north face of Ben Nevis

A letter distributed to parents and the local community explained that Mrs Bessell also works at Ashton Park School alongside her husband, as head of science.

“We will be in touch in due course with details of how our school and community will pay tribute to Mark’s life and continue the outstanding work he led within outdoor education,” the letter said.

After police were alerted to the avalanche at around 3.35pm on 30 December, the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and a helicopter were dispatched to help the two climbers, amid challenging weather conditions.

It took eight hours to recover them from their position and Mr Bessell was pronounced dead at the scene.

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