THIS dramatic photograph shows the moment a mountain rescue helicopter searched Ben Nevis for two walkers on Christmas day.
Volunteers from the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were called out late in the afternoon when two hikers got into difficulty 4,000ft up the mountain.
Photographer Steven Ingle, who was staying at a nearby lodge, heard the rescue helicopter overhead and rushed outside with his camera.
And he managed to capture an eerie snap showing the airborne team trying to locate the pair in distress.
The picture shows a beam of light appearing from the heavens and lighting up a crag near Gardyloo Gully – a sheer drop on the snowy mountain.
Despite their efforts, conditions were too gusty for the helicopter to lift the walkers directly off the mountain, and a rescue team had to be dropped below the summit.
Luckily, the team managed to reach the walkers and took them back to the base of the mountain, where they were given a warm cup of tea and biscuits.
Steven, 24, from North Berwick, said: “We were renting a lodge for a Christmas get-together with the family when the helicopter passed over the top of our heads rushing for Ben Nevis.
“I grabbed my camera and made a small tripod out of two rocks so I could get the photo framed and still.
“The helicopter searched for a good hour up and down the north-east face, the hardest face on the mountain to climb.
“In its second hour the helicopter made various attempts to land on the summit to perform the rescue but due to high winds ended up dropping a rescue team halfway up the mountain to go by foot and find the lost group.
“After a while we watched the search crew walk the group from the top back down, shining their very bright flashlights and moving at a very fast pace.”
Pictures shared on the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team’s Facebook page show a group of men performing the rescue in dark, snowy conditions.
The team have been praised for their efforts on Christmas day, but some have criticised the walkers for deciding to tackle the mountain in difficult conditions.
Willie Galbraith said: “I have no words to describe idiots like these.”
Lady Irene Archibald added: “A cup of tea…they should get a kick up the arse for going up there. Not only do they endanger their lives but the kind guys who then have to leave their own families to go looking for them.”