The search for missing Brit hiker Esther Dingley may not resume around the peak where she was last seen until July, police have warned.
The mountain rescue experts involved in last year’s operation to find the 37-year-old have admitted they have no plans to restart the search until April at the earliest.
But the relaunch could be nearly five months away if there is heavy snow and temperatures stay low over the next few weeks.
Sergeant Jorge Lopez Ramos, head of the Civil Guard GREIM mountain rescue team in Benasque where hiker Esther based herself before her November 22 disappearance, said: “We’d hope to resume the search in April or May but it could be July before it happens depending on the weather in the coming weeks.
“It won’t be before April but the time frame we’re working with is April to July.
“The peak where we know Esther last made contact with her partner from is nearly 9,000ft above sea level so it will be a while before the snow there thaws and we can see what’s underneath it.
“And at the moment there’s a risk of avalanches which makes it dangerous.
“The snowfall this year so far has been normal but there’s no telling what’s going to happen from now on.
“We really are at the mercy of the weather. We’ve had no more information pointing to any last-minute changes of route Esther might have made.
“The area around Pico Salvaguardia where we understand she last made contact with her boyfriend on November 22, is therefore going to be the focus of our search when it is resumed.
“It’s probably not going to be as intensive as it was in the week after she was reported missing.
“But hopefully we’ll be able to incorporate aerial resources to complement what we do on the ground.”
The mountain search for Durham-born travel blogger Esther, who told boyfriend Dan Colegate she was planning to spend the night at a mountain refuge across the border in France, was called off at the start of December because of heavy snowfall.
Mr Lopez Ramos said at the time to a “bitter taste in his mouth” because the chances of finding Esther alive were minimal.
Police forces in Spain and France leading a separate probe to try to establish if the Oxford Uni graduate was the victim of a crime, are thought to have made no headway.