2015, February 12: Mysterious Screams on Ben Nevis

On February 12, 2015, several groups of climbers on Ben Nevis in Scotland were startled to hear a "blood-curdling" scream somewhere in the clouds of the mountain. At least one group of climbers abandoned their climb to investigate the scream, but found nothing but silence. Some of the climbers called in emergency services, and the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team investigated... but found nothing.

South face of Ben NevisSouth face of Ben Nevis. (For larger picture, click here.)

        Later that day, the various groups started to compare notes on a climber's forum page, which is when they discovered that they had all heard the scream, though they were at differing parts of the mountain, and that none of them knew who had screamed.

        The overall description of what was heard, when all notes were compared, was a series of sustained horrific screams that lasted about four or five minutes and ended suddenly, followed by the sounds of a woman crying. Some of the climbers stated they had heard cries for a "tight rope" just previous to the screams. Though some people in the climber's forum suggested that maybe it had been a deer's cry being misinterpreted, every climber that had heard the screams stated they had been human, and there was no mistaking that. As one of the climbers, Christopher Sleight, later wrote: "my first thought was simple but terrible: I was listening to someone who had just watched a loved one - not simply a climbing partner, but a loved one - fall to their death. There was so much pain and loss in that dreadful noise."

        Though it wasn't mentioned by the climbers, it seems implied that the screams were perceived as being from a stationary person; which is likely why some of the climbers tried to locate the source. None of the investigators found evidence of an accident. A later check by some of the climbers with local police found that no one was reported missing. While a number of the climbers in the forum were of the opinion it was some sort of stunt by celebrity Bear Grylls, who they had heard was filming in the area, it turned out he had been filming on a different mountain and days earlier... so was not responsible for the screams.

Mysterious or Supernatural?

        Shortly after the BBC News website posted an article by climber Christopher Sleight describing the mysterious screams came a number of web theorists either merely implying or directly stating the idea that the screams were of a supernatural origin. The most common suggestions of what supernatural agents could be involved were either banshees (phantom women that cry before a person dies) or the legendary Big Grey Man, a spirit or creature told of as haunting the peak of Ben Macdui (but never before reported on Ben Nevis).

        The climbers who actually heard the screams, however, all came to a general agreement that the most likely source was a panicked wife or girlfriend, who thought something horrible had happened, and then was too embarrassed afterwards to admit to being the source of the screams.

        For my take on the matter this is listed as a Mystery, as there is nothing here that couldn't be explained in a straightforward way... but the question of who screamed and why will likely remain a mystery until either the screamer comes forward, or evidence of an accident or crime is discovered on Ben Nevis.

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