A British woman who has been travelling around Europe for the last six years in a camper van has vanished in the Pyrenees.
French rescue teams said there is ‘growing concern’ for the safety of Esther Dingley, 37, from Durham, who has not been heard from for more than a week.
Specialist search teams, including helicopters and sniffer dogs have so far found no trace of Ms Dingley despite ‘extensive sweeps’ of the area. Snow has been falling across the steep cliffs and rugged countryside, with temperatures dropping to as low as -2C at night.
Ms Dingley last spoke to her boyfriend, Dan Colegate, on WhatsApp last Sunday when she was on top of the 9,000ft Pic de Sauvegarde mountain on the French-Spanish border.
Mr Colegate said he was ‘broken’ and ‘shattered’ by the disappearance of his girlfriend, who was due to end her solo hiking expedition on Wednesday.
The couple have been travelling around the world since 2014 with their five dogs and have documented their adventures in a blog called Esther and Dan.
Ms Dingley had been travelling in the couple’s camper van while Mr Colegate stayed at a farm in the Gascony area of France.
She started trekking from Benasque in Huesca, Spain, on Saturday November 21 and had planned to spend Sunday night at Refuge de Venasque in France, said her boyfriend.
In an emotional Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Colegate shared the last picture his girlfriend sent him before her disappearance.
He wrote: ‘Search and rescue teams have so far found no trace of her. The only purpose of this post is to ask for prayers, thoughts, candles and whatever you have.
‘I’ve not been saying anything, but this wonderful person believes in the power of positive thought and right now I’ll take anything if it means that she can be found. I need her back. I can’t face the alternative.’
He added that he was ‘heading back up’ the mountain to join the search mission.
A spokesman for the emergency services in Bagnères-de-Luchon, in the Haute-Garonne department of France, said: ‘The search intensified on Friday.
‘All available resources are being used in the research, but there is growing concern for her safety.’
A spokesman for the PGHM High Mountain police in Bagnères de Luchon said they were ‘actively looking’ for Ms Dingley and that they were committed to ‘safeguarding human life.’
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