Lacking British ‘van life’ travel blogger’s boyfriend scours the Pyrenees
Missing hiker’s British partner, Esther Dingley, was looking for her alone in the Pyrenees last night when police carried out a major search to find her five days after her disappearance.
37-year-old Esther Dingley disappeared while walking alone from Porte de la Glere to Port de Venasque on the border between France and Spain.
Despite being missing for five days, French and Spanish search teams made one final attempt to find the missing trekker.
Missing hiker’s British partner, Esther Dingley, was looking for her alone in the Pyrenees last night when police carried out a major search to find her five days after her disappearance. Dan Colegate and Esther Dingley are pictured above
37-year-old Esther Dingley was hiking in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain against lockdown rules when she disappeared last week
Dan Colegate, the British partner of the missing hiker Esther Dingley, was looking for her alone in the Pyrenees last night
The 37-year-old had toured Europe with partner Dan Colegate on a six-year campervan tour, but last month she had decided to hike alone in the Pyrenees while he was staying at a farmhouse in Gascony, France.
The Durham couple last spoke on WhatsApp on November 22nd when Esther posted a selfie from Mount Pic de Sauvegarde on the border.
The day before, she published a series of pictures on Instagram with the title: “I’m in heaven … The snail is on the move again and loves it.”
On Saturday, Mr. Colegate said on the couple’s Facebook page, “I’m broken. Shattered that my beloved Esther, the person who taught me to feel, is missing. Search and rescue teams have so far found no trace of her. ‘
Miss Dingley had been touring Europe in a van with partner Dan Calegate for six years when she left him at a farmhouse in France last month for a solo adventure
Ms. Dingley had started in Benasque, Spain on Saturday and was planning to spend Sunday evening at Refuge Venasque in France
The 37-year-old from Durham was on a month-long solo trip and was due to return on Wednesday
The French police sent a search team of 16 people together with national police experts to the mountain on Monday.
“Your partner is looking for her too. He prefers to go alone, ”said Pierre Gaillard from the PGMH mountain gendarmes in Luchon.
“He’s already retraced their route because it’s not a difficult path. Now he’s in a different area. He’s involved, he’s trying to understand and doesn’t want to wait in the valley. ‘
On his Facebook page, Mr. Colegate’s father Mick said, “We have spoken to son and you know that when you come down from the mountains I will be on the first available flight. You don’t have to be strong and honest all by yourself … love you son. ‘
Mr. Gaillard said his men had little hope of finding Ms. Dingley alive at this point. Ms. Dingley walked from Benasque, Spain on November 21. French police said all traces of her were lost at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 22nd. Thereafter, no further telephone messages were received.
The routes it took were marked, well marked on maps, and fairly busy in normal times, French police said.
Several witnesses saw her on Sunday on the Spanish side and spoke to her.
There is an unmarked refuge just across the French border, but police said there was no indication that it had been used.
Miss Dingley was a yoga enthusiast who was a private trainer before giving up her career to travel around Europe
The Spanish authorities were reportedly informed of her disappearance on November 25 and through their French counterparts the next morning. They found their vehicle parked on the Spanish side of the border.
A spokesman for the Spanish Civil Guard said: “We are searching with a team of ten mountain rescuers and a helicopter. We have had situations in the past where people have found refuge and survived such situations.
‘This is a mixed area with some forest areas and other areas with difficult mountain areas. We don’t think there is anything suspicious currently. ‘
Spanish police said Ms. Dingley appeared to have violated the movement restrictions put in place by the authorities to stop Covid-19 infections.
The Spanish authorities issued a missing person warning to Ms. Dingley.
José María Anton, a hotelier in Benasque, said: “All hotels here are currently closed as skiing has not yet started. I don’t know where this woman would be. If she intended to climb over the mountains it could be dangerous as there is snow and ice. ‘
Mr Colegate was due to cross the Vielha tunnel into Spain on Tuesday and possibly join the Civil Guard team looking for his partner.
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Agency spokesman said: “Our staff supports the family of a British woman who was reported missing in the Pyrenees.”