Missing British hiker could have fallen in snow says expert after remains ...

Missing British hiker could have fallen in snow says expert after remains ...
Missing British hiker could have fallen in snow says expert after remains ...

Missing British backpacker Esther Dingley could have fallen after being caught out by a snow-covered mountain path in the Pyrenees, a local expert has speculated after possible human remains including a skull were found near where she was last seen alive.

The remains - which were discovered by Spanish and French hikers on the approach to the Puerto de la Glera pass, Port de la Glere in French, on Friday - have been sent to a lab in Toulouse for comparison with Ms Dingley's dental records and a DNA sample from her mother. 

Ms Dingley, 37, had been planning to cross back into Spain through the pass after spending a day hiking on the French side of the border before she went missing on November 22 last year. Her last known contact was a WhatsApp call with her boyfriend Dan Colegate from the summit of the Pic de Sauvegarde, where she took a selfie of herself.  

The two Oxford graduates had been travelling around Europe in a camper van for years after quitting their careers and Durham home. Missing persons charity LBT Global, which has been supporting Mr Colegate and Ms Dingley's family, said that confirmation of whether the possible human remains were a match would take 'days or even weeks'.

According to Guilhem Garrigues, the keeper of the Venasque refuge on the French side of the border where the British hiker had planned to spend the night, Ms Dingley could have fallen in snow.

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He explained that the paths she was believed to have taken were clear on the Spanish face of the mountains, but could have remained covered in snow around the Puerto de la Glera pass, where the slopes are normally shaded and which could have taken her by surprise. 

The keeper - who handles hosting, maintenance and cooking duties at the refuge - added police had resumed searches for Ms Dingley two weeks ago after the winter snows melted and that officers told him they believed it likely her remains would be discovered by the public by chance.

Mr Garrigues told the Times newspaper: 'The hike is easy in the summer and there are about 20 people who do it every day. But in the winter it changes completely. It's steep and anyone can make a mistake and slip, or be unbalanced by a gust of wind.' 

Missing British backpacker Esther Dingley could have fallen after being caught out by a snow-covered mountain path in the Pyrenees, a local expert has speculated

Missing British backpacker Esther Dingley could have fallen after being caught out by a snow-covered mountain path in the Pyrenees, a local expert has speculated 

British hiker Esther Dingley  (pictured with her boyfriend Daniel Colegate) went missing November 22

British hiker Esther Dingley  (pictured with her boyfriend Daniel Colegate) went missing November 22 

Ms Dingley, 37, had been planning to cross back into Spain through the pass after spending a day hiking on the French side of the border before she went missing on November 22 last year

Ms Dingley, 37, had been planning to cross back into Spain through the pass after spending a day hiking on the French side of the border before she went missing on November 22 last year

Meanwhile Ms Dingley's family said in a statement they are 'urgently seeking clarification' after bones believed to be human were found on Friday near where the hiker was last seen. 

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An investigating French source on Saturday said there was no 'immediate proof as to the identity of the remains' and that 'a medico-legal procedure will be followed to establish the identity of Person X in the days ahead.' 

Mr Colegate wrote in the 23-page report about Ms Dingley's plans to do a circular hike between Spain and France which involved sleeping at a mountain refuge.

He said in his dossier: 'An individual that Esther met on November 19 came forward to say he had specifically suggested this route through France, between Port de Venasque and Port de la Glere, to Esther when he met her.  There is no reason to think that Esther did not stick to this plan.' 

In a section titled 'Esther's Planned Onward Route', he suggested she reached the mountain refuge in France and slept there overnight before continuing a hike to return to her initial starting point in Spain.

He said: 'Her onward route would have involved a descent northwards towards the Hospice de France, a flat traverse westwards around the Imperatrice Way, and a climb southwards to the border at Port de la Glere.  From the border the route descends back towards Hospital de Benasque. 

'This route would have been well within Esther's capabilities for a day hike, in addition to the fact she had a tent, camping equipment and significant experience using it. 

'Distance was 16km with 1100 metres of ascent, five to seven hours of hiking time.  The weather remained excellent that Monday. The route is very obvious on the ground and also from the terrain when starting from Refuge de Venasque. 

A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2pm on Friday after discovering what he believed could be the remains of a body near the spot where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year.

A mountain runner raised the alarm around 2pm on Friday after discovering what he believed could be the remains of a body near the spot where missing hiker Esther Dingley went missing late last year.

Specialist officers from Spain and France have carried out several searches of the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail, where Ms Dingley was hiking before she went missing

 Specialist officers from Spain and France have carried out several searches of the area around the Puerto de la Glera hiking trail, where Ms Dingley was hiking before she went missing

'It's basically impossible to get lost in good visibility here.  The entire route is a well-made and easy to follow path.  Although Esther believed and had warned family that there was poor signal in the area, in fact the signal is very good on the French side. 

'Within half an hour of leaving the refuge, Esther should have been able to use her phone for most of the rest of the

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