Missing hiker Esther Dingley’s mum says the torment of not knowing what happened to her daughter is destroying her.
Ria Dingley-Schoneveld spoke as the mystery of Esther’s disappearance in November on a solo trek in the Pyrenees reaches its 100th day tomorrow.
The Oxford graduate’s last contact was a video call to partner Dan Colegate in their camper van 100 miles away. She had reached the top of the 9,000ft Pic de Sauvegarde and was due to stay in a mountain refuge.
Distraught Ria spoke after French police said earlier this week they have done “all they can” in the hunt for Esther, 37.
They said that further searches near the peak on the French-Spanish border were now unlikely until spring.
Ria said: “Each day has been nothing short of an excruciating hell for me, balancing on the edge of breaking down.
“Not knowing where she is or what has happened to our beautiful Esther is destroying me and our family.
“It was my birthday last week and I missed her so much.” Meanwhile Dan, 38, from Durham, refuses to believe his partner of 19 years would have suffered an accident or voluntarily stopped being in touch. He suspects foul play.
He said: “I want to reiterate Esther is an experienced hiker who was carrying suitable equipment in terrain that would not have been a challenge to her.
“She had completed countless similar hikes successfully in the past, never leaving trails and being well aware of her body’s limitations.”
Dan, who is being supported by crisis support charity LBT Global, 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.
“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.”