POLICE in the Highlands say they are continuing to co-ordinate searches for three missing walkers who remain unaccounted for.
It comes as rescue parties recover the remains of a dog that accompanied two brothers who went missing in Wester Ross.
The body of Alan Gibson was discovered on February 10 but the whereabouts of his 63-year-old brother Neil is unknown.
They were reported missing on Thursday, February 8 having failed to return from a planned walk in the Achnashellach area in Strathcarron.
Further searches have been ongoing this week by members of Torridon Mountain Rescue Team and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopter.
The remains of the dog were found during searches yesterday.
The Gibson brothers’ disappearance has been one of a number of instances in the past few weeks of hikers heading out into remote and rural areas in the north of the country and not returning.
There have been a number of deaths during a busy winter for Scotland’s mountain rescue teams.
Search teams are continuing their efforts to find Marcin Bialas, who was reported missing in an area close to Observatory Gully and Gardyloo Gully on Ben Nevis on Sunday, January 21.
Concern was raised for the 36-year-old following a fall close to the summit of Ben Nevis.
Mr Bialas has still not been found despite numerous searches by mountain rescue teams and helicopter in the area.
Lochaber man Jim Stalker was reported missing on Sunday, February 11 after a fall near the summit of Beinn a Chaorainn, close to Creag Meagaidh.
Further searches have been carried out on the mountain this week by the Lochaber and RAF mountain rescue teams but to no avail.
Progressing searches for all three men has been challenging due to poor weather and a high risk of avalanche, although activity has been ongoing where conditions allow.
Inspector Nick Hough of Fort William said: “We currently have three missing persons in our mountain ranges and we have been co-ordinating searches with local Lochaber and Torridon Mountain Rescue Teams, HM Coastguard air support and other mountain rescue services.
“Our thoughts remain very much the families and friends of all three men and we would like to reassure them that all of the different agencies are committed to continuing with searches, where it is safe to do so.
“Large accumulations of snow remain and there is currently a high risk of avalanche in the areas.
“I wish to express my thanks to all the volunteers and partner search agencies that have already made considerable efforts to search for the missing walkers.
“Their continued commitment is appreciated by Police Scotland and the friends and families of the missing persons.”
With winter conditions still affecting high altitude areas and the threat of snow across some of the country at lower levels in the coming days, walkers are urged to be prepared if they are heading out.
John Stevenson, leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, said: “We are still experiencing full winter conditions on Ben Nevis and the wider Lochaber area and they are challenging.
“We urge any visiting climbers and walkers to the area to be fully prepared prior to venturing out. Always check weather forecasts, avalanche reports and plan your routes; have alternative routes if weather conditions are not suitable when you arrive.
“Walkers should have a full complement of winter equipment, clothing, navigation and safety aids before attempting any walk or climb.”