MISSING hiker Esther Dingley’s partner says the torment of not knowing what happened to his girlfriend is ‘agonising’ and has pledged to return to the Pyrenees to find her.
Heartbroken Dan Colegate spoke after French police said earlier this week they have done “all they can” in the hunt for Esther, 37.
The Oxford graduate vanished last November and shortly after video calling Dan to say she had completed her solo hiking trip and reached the top of the 9,000ft Pic de Sauvegarde.
Mountain rescue teams found no trace of the English hiker and called off the search on December 3 because of bad weather.
They said that further hunts near the peak on the French-Spanish border were now unlikely until spring.
Dan, 38, who met Esther at Oxford University, said: ““I intend to return as soon as weather permits to repeat the searches carried out.
“I’ll also search further afield, scanning across the landscape systematically to rule out each area piece by piece.”
Dan, who left England with Esther in 2014 to travel around Europe in a camper van in 2014, suspects foul play was involved in her disappearance.
He said his girlfriend of 19-years was “an experienced hiker who was carrying suitable equipment in terrain that would not have been a challenge to her.
Dan added: “She had completed countless similar hikes successfully in the past, never leaving trails and being well aware of her body’s limitations.”
The former business development manager from Durham believes Esther would have been found on or close to one of the extensive paths in the area if she had simply suffered an accident.
“The fact no trace at all was found, despite a wide-ranging and intensive search in good weather before the snow, was baffling to those involved,” he said.
Esther had been set to return to the village of Benasque, in the Spanish part of the Pyrenees, after a four-week solo trek, three days before she vanished.
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.
Dan said: “I intend to return to the area to repeat the searches already carried out as soon as the weather permits.
“In the meantime, those of us who love Esther can only continue an agonising wait for news.”