The chances of survival of a British woman who has been missing for eight days after an illegal walk are “extremely low,” the search teams said today.
Esther Dingley, 37, has been missing in the Pyrenees for over a week.
But despite a large-scale search over steep cliffs and mountain lakes, search teams have found no “trace” of her.
Today, a spokesman for French police in the high mountains said that snow was now falling and temperatures were as low as -10 ° C in the area where she was last seen.
He said: “The chances of finding this young woman alive is extremely low given the temperatures at this altitude.
“There’s no trace of the yellow tent she brought, and her dark clothes can make the search difficult.”
The spokesperson confirmed that Ms. Dingley’s solo walk – which began last Saturday – was banned under French lockdown laws that prohibit people from traveling more than half a mile from home or walking for more than an hour.
Spanish rescue workers found her car abandoned in the town of Benasque, where she started her walk before disappearing.
Specialists from the Guardia Civil’s GREIM team in the mountains began their search on Tuesday, along with teams from the French side of the border.
Officers using helicopters and tracking dogs were looking for Mrs. Dingley, 37, who is originally from Durham.
But despite the “extensive fighting” of the rugged landscape where she was last seen, there is no trace of her.
She was in an area notorious for hiking accidents, including a fatal one in 2017, when a young woman who was an experienced mountain hiker died.
In July 2017, a 31-year-old French woman lost her life in front of her partner after a rock she was clinging to for support fell off and toppled her.
Employees of the Vénasque Refuge – which Ms. Dingley had attended last Sunday night – attended the scene but were unable to save her.
A patrol from the Bagnères de Luchon High Mountain Police – the unit conducting the search for Mrs. Dingley – was also on hand.
Ms. Dingley last spoke to her boyfriend Dan Colegate via WhatsApp last Sunday when she was atop the Pic de Sauvegarde, a mountain 2,738 meters high on the French-Spanish border.
She was on an unmarked but popular trail that during the summer months is full of walkers enjoying the views of the surrounding lakes and cliffs.
But due to cold weather and the coronavirus pandemic, the track has been relatively empty in recent weeks.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Colegate shared the last photo Ms. Dingley had sent him before her disappearance.
He wrote, “The sole purpose of this message is to ask for prayers, thoughts, candles and whatever else you have.
“I didn’t say anything, but this amazing person believes in the power of positive thinking and right now I’m taking anything if it means she can be found.
‘I need her back. I cannot face the alternative. I’m going to search again so I can’t reply to comments or posts. Sorry for the haste and inadequacy of these words. ‘
Mrs. Dingley and Mr. Colegate have been traveling the world with their five dogs since 2014, documenting their adventures in a blog called Esther and Dan.
Mrs. Dingley had taken their van on the last trip, which she had planned to complete herself.
It was due to end Wednesday, while Mr Colegate was in Gascony, France.
A spokesman for the police headquarters in Huesca, just south of the central Pyrenees, said: “If anyone has information about the missing woman, we urge them to contact us immediately.”