Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
From late in the evening of Wed 29th until Fri 31st March, the Team was involved in assisting in the search for, and recovery of those killed in a helicopter crash in the hills north of Dolgellau. This incident involved all of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Teams, along with North Wales Police, the Coastguard helicopter R936 and other specialist agencies.
Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
At around 7:50 a.m., call handlers from Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team received a request to assist the Welsh Ambulance Service with the rescue of an injured man at the Centre for Alternative Technology, near Machynlleth.
The man, a visitor staying at the site, had gone out for an early morning walk along the woodland trails above the main centre but slipped and sustained an knee injury. Ambulance crew attended the scene and administered first aid but were unable to move the man given the nature of the terrain.
Team volunteers carried the wheeled stretcher to the scene and the man was quickly recovered to a waiting ambulance. Everyone was back at vehicles by 9:30 a.m.
On Wednesday 8th of March call-handlers from the Team were made aware of a crag-fast farm dog south of Machynlleth.
Dauntless, a two year old bitch, had run into a steep sided gorge near Aberhosan earlier in the week, and the owners had made a number of attempts to encourage her out or get down to her, all without success. In the end they called the Police to request Mountain Rescue assistance.
Given the time of day, and in order to maximise team availability, the rescue attempt was postponed until first thing Thursday morning. A group of twelve volunteer rescuers attended the call-out, and started the process of moving crag-rescue equipment up the steep mountain side to the side of the gully.
"At first things didn’t look so good" said Team member Graham O'Hanlon who attended the rescue. "The dog had been spotted late the previous day, and had been quite vocal in letting everyone know where she was, but as we made our way up the hill there was no noise and no movement. I wasn't the only one who feared the worst."
Unable to get a good view into the bottom of the gully, it was decided to lower a rescuer into the gorge for a better look. On the second descent, a small static bundle of fur was spotted on a rock ledge, and it looked like Dauntless had not survived her ordeal. However, as the rescuer got closer, an ear pricked, a tail wagged, and all was well. Dauntless, seemingly fine from her time in the gorge bottom, was packaged into a rescue sack and was hauled back to the top of the gully where she was reunited with her owners.
"We were all very pleased things worked out well for both dog and owners. We rely on the co-operation and forbearance of the farming community as we go about our rescue business, so it is good to be able to return the favour every now and then. Such rescues also provide us with valuable training to keep our rope rescue skills as sharp as they can be" said Graham.
Just after 3:20 p.m. on Friday 24th Feb, call-handlers from Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team were made aware of a woman with a leg injury on Cader Idris.
The 41 year old from Llanidloes was walking on the Minffordd path with a family group when she slipped and fell a short distance on the slopes above Llyn Cau, sustaining a suspected fracture to her lower leg.
Given the serious nature of the injury, assistance from the Coastguard Helicopter was requested, and the aircraft was making its initial approaches as Team volunteers gathered at the foot of the mountain. With the casualty on a steep slope and with a rapidly falling cloud-base it was possible that the helicopter would not be able to access the site directly, and so a stretcher party was assembled at a nearby landing site ready to assist with the extraction.
In the event, the helicopter was able to lower the winchman to the scene, and after some initial treatment to relieve significant pain and to stabilise the injury, the woman was winched aboard the aircraft and flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd at Bangor for further hospital-based treatment. Team volunteers then ascended to the accident site to meet up with another party member who had waited with the casualty, and to escort him down off the mountain in the failing light. Everyone was safely off the hill by 6:20 p.m.
At around 5:30 p.m. call handlers from the Team were made aware of 3 men and a dog sheltering in the summit hut on Cader Idris.
The men, in their 30's and from the Birmingham area, had started up the Minffordd path with the intention of completing the Mynydd Moel loop, but after a food stop in the summit-hut, they stepped out to find the cloud had closed in to give extremely poor visibility. A short foray left them doubting their own navigation, and with the prospect of encroaching darkness they recognised that they might be in trouble. Finding their way back to the summit, a call was made to alert mountain rescue.
The group, appropriately equipped for a day on the mountain, initially intended to stay in the hut and try again at first light the following morning. However, with no overnight equipment and food all used up, coupled with poor ground conditions and the forecast for gales sweeping in overnight and into Monday, it was agreed that a rescue party would collect them and escort them down to safety.
With patches of snow and ice as far down as 350m, rescue volunteers made their way carefully up the ice-glazed rocks of the Pony Path to reach the stranded party. The men were in good spirits and ready to move, and rescuers were quickly picking their way back down the mountain again. Everyone was safely off the mountain by 10:00 p.m.
At around 7:30 p.m. call-handlers were made aware of a party of 3 adults and 3 children lost on Cader Idris.
The well-equipped party from the Wrexham area had started their day on the mountain from Minffordd at 8:30 a.m and, having summited at around 1:30 p.m., were on their way back down when they took a wrong turn. They made attempts to get back on track but with the children, aged between 10-13 years, starting to fatigue, and with poor visibility and failing light, the party opted to take to their emergency shelters and seek help.
With an accurate grid reference provided by the party, rescue volunteers were able to drive on a hill track to a nearby sheep shelter from where they deployed on foot. The casualty party shone torches in the direction of the approaching rescuers, so their position was quickly identified. The group was escorted down the the Team vehicle, and with a couple of shuttle-runs, were taken down off the mountain and back to their vehicle. Everyone was off the mountain and back at the Minffordd car park by 10:40 p.m.
At around 8:30 p.m., as the Team was already deployed on a rescue, call handlers were informed that concerns had been raised over the safety of a party of 1 male and 2 females on Cader Idris. The party, described as "in their 20s," "poorly equipped" and "looking out of their depth", were last seen in the summit hut at 4:30 p.m. shortly before darkness fell.
In conversation with the informant, the party had mentioned that they were doing the Mynydd Moel loop from Minffordd, but seemed to have little idea of their route and directed the informant 180 degrees in the wrong direction. The informant continued with her own journey and returned to the Minffordd car park some time later in the evening where she found three cars. Being concerned for the well-being of the walkers, she called the police to report her concerns once back in signal.
Call-handlers were able to establish that two of the cars were likely to belong to the casualty party from the ongoing rescue which left the possibility that the third belonged to this "missing" party. With this in mind, the Team was put on standby whilst further developments were awaited.
It was felt that, since a group of 20 year olds may well have a working phone between them, and that no calls had been received by North Wales Police regarding this matter, then it was unclear whether an emergency actually existed. With the Team vehicles, and a number of Team volunteers in the closing stages of a rescue nearby, it was decided to await a search of the car-park and other likely parking spots once the first job had been completed. On their return to Minffordd, the Team found only two cars in the park, both belonging to the casualty party they were accompanying, and with surrounding parking spots empty, the call-out was declared a false alarm with good intent, and the Team was stood down.
At around 2:30 p.m. call-handlers from the Team were made aware of a lone female walker lost in the mist on Cader Idris. While attempts to identify her position by verbal description were made by phone, the Team was called out to anticipate the need for a more "boots-on" approach to rescue. Although the woman was moving towards very steep and craggy ground, she managed to happen upon one of very few ways through the cliffs and was able to get herself down to safer ground. Call handlers monitored her progress by phone and the Team was stood down.
At around 5:50 p.m. the Team was requested to assist our neighbours from Brecon Mountain Rescue Team in the rescue of an injured walker in Hafran Forest, near Staylittle.
The 62 year old woman had slipped and fallen on an icy patch whilst following the Severn Way footpath, and had sustained lower-leg injuries. In an operation involving volunteers from Brecon, Longtown and Central Beacons teams, personnel battled with sometimes unclear and conflicting details about the accident site in order to converge on the casulaties location. The injured woman was treated on scene and stretchered to a MR Landrover, and the other 8 members of the party, by now also very cold themselves, were driven out of the forest in Team vehicles. Everyone was out of the forest by 8:45 p.m. but it would be more than an hour later before the most northern members of Aberdyfi made it home.
At around 3:50 p.m. call-handlers from the Team were made aware of two walkers stuck in the summit hut on Cader Idris.
In poor conditions, and with inadequate equipment, the pair, a man and woman from Birmingham, had become soaked, cold and disorientated having reached the summit. Fortunately, other walkers intending to see-in the new year at the summit hut were able to offer warm and dry clothing to the pair and keep them in good spirits as they awaited rescue.
Working in conditions of wind, rain and poor visibility, a total of 14 rescue volunteers put their celebration plans on hold to attend the rescue. On reaching the hut, rescuers provided food and warm drinks before putting the walkers into more suitable clothing and then walking them down off the mountain. Everyone was off the hill shortly after 8:00 p.m.
At around 11:50 a.m. call-handlers from the Team received a request to assist North Wales Ambulance Service in the extraction of an injured person from a difficult and inaccessible position near Fairbourne.
The casualty, an elderly lady, had slipped on a steep bank and suffered a head injury from the fall at a remote cottage in the hills above Arthog. Both the air-ambulance and a road ambulance were in attendance but neither could get close enough to move the woman. A small party of Team volunteers transferred the lady onto a stretcher and lowered her down the slope to a rough track, from where she was then carried to the waiting ambulance.