The mother of the missing British hiker Esther Dingley has offered to provide her DNA to help establish whether bones found in the Pyrenees belong to her daughter.
Ms Dingley has not been seen since late November after she scaled Pico Salvaguardia, on the border between France and Spain, during a solo trek.
The 37-year-old sent a selfie to her partner, Dan Colgate, from the 9,000ft mountain on the day she went missing, but her fate since then has remained unclear despite a major search effort.
A potentially significant breakthrough in the case came on Friday, when a mountain runner found what he thought might be a human skull close to where Ms Dingley vanished.
Spanish police were initially contacted about the grim find, which was near a mountain pass, and alerted their French counterparts because the area was on their side of the border.
Ms Dingley’s mother, Ria Bryant, said this weekend that she would give a DNA sample to French police in the coming days as they carry out analysis on the bones.
The skull, said to have long hair, was found alongside at least one identified bone.
There was no sign, however, of any of the clothes Ms Dingley was reported to have been wearing, nor her distinctive yellow tent and grey and red rucksack.
Ms Bryant, 74, has also been asked by police for her daughter’s dental records.
“The dentist is sending a scan of Esther’s teeth,” she told The Sunday Times. “We have to send it to the consulate in Bordeaux.”
Ms Bryant uprooted her life to be close to the search effort for her daughter, moving into a house in Bagnères-de-Luchon, a town in the French Pyrenees.
She said “nothing of (her daughter’s) belongings” had been found, adding: “It’s upsetting that it’s not clear and definitive.”
LBT Global, a charity that has been supporting the family, said that the process of analysing the remains “may take days or even weeks”.
Spanish police are reported to believe that a heavy snow shower in the area where Ms Dingley vanished may have covered her body if she had slipped and fallen.
Snowfall forced police on both sides of the border to suspend their search last November. It started again in the spring, joined by Mr Colegate.
Missing British hiker
The couple, who blogged about their travels, had spent six years roaming around Europe in a campervan, but Mr Colegate had not gone with Ms Dingley on her last trek.
Her partner claimed in a recent BBC interview he “could no longer agree” with the idea she had suffered an accident.
In January he released a dossier about Ms Dingley’s disappearance in which he suggested she may have come across someone who saw "an opportunity when encountering a lone female hiker".
"Accidents can happen to anyone, of course, but these paths are all well within Esther’s capabilities. She had successfully gone up and down the same peak the previous day. If she had found it hard, she wouldn’t have gone back alone,” the dossier issued by the Lucie Blackman Trust (LBT) said.
"Esther is adventurous but not a gratuitous risk taker."