On the way home from the call-out below, the Team Land-Rover was re-tasked to help our neighbouring Team, South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team search for missing offroaders in the Trawsfynydd area. The missing men were found just as Mobile 2 reached the search control.
At around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday 30th Jan, Call-Handlers from Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team were made aware of a couple of walkers stranded by darkness on Cadair Idris.
The two men, both from Aberystwyth had planned to climb the mountain, but had ended up starting out later than intended. Keen to reach the summit, they found they had run out of daylight on the descent. Crossing the outflow from Llyn Cau, the men had both got wet, and with no lighting they quickly lost the route. Both were adequately dressed for a day on the mountain, but with little extra equipment to draw on in terms of clothing, food or shelter, these circumstances began to have a serious effect on their condition. One of the men in particular became extremely cold and was unable to continue, fortunately at a position with a phone signal, and a call to the emergency services was made.
A party of two Rescue Team volunteers made their way quickly up the mountain, and were able to quickly find and stabilise the condition of the men, whilst other volunteers made their way to the location with the equipment that might be needed to get the men down. The men were placed in a "Group Shelter," a kind of tent-without-poles which warms up very quickly, given food and changed into dry warm clothing. The coldest of the pair was clearly hypothermic, and for a while it seemed like he would need a stretcher extraction off the hill, but with the warming effects of the shelter and clothing, along with a bit of fuel in his system his condition quickly improved and he was ultimately able to walk off under his own steam.
Team member Graham O'Hanlon, one of the first on-scene, said "I'm fairly sure all of us at some time or other have experienced "summit-fever," the irresistible desire to reach the top no matter what the cost, so we have an understanding of the motivations here. It takes discipline to turn back when the peak seems like it is almost in reach, but this incident shows how easily and rapidly the situation can deteriorate into something life-threatening. When heading into the hills at this time of year, it is particularly important to plan timings carefully and to carry equipment such as extra food and clothing, along with a group shelter in case similar circumstances arise."
At around 3:45 p.m. the Team was requested to assist a crag-fast walker in the Blue-Lake area above Fairbourne.
The man had walked to a position from which he felt unable to continue onwards. His wife had been able to get down to the road and was able to direct rescuers to his location. Rescuers were able to quickly reach the man and walk him to safety.
At around 7:30 p.m. call-handlers from the Team received a request from North Wales Police (NWP) for assistance in reaching a stranded motorist at risk in the the very heavy rain and sleet which was falling as snow on higher ground.
A parcel-courier had taken the short cut from Llanymawddwy to Llanuwchllyn over Bwlch y Groes and slipped off the road into a ditch in snowy conditions. The man had then walked several hundred metres to the top of the pass to get a phone signal in order to raise the alarm. NWP did not have a vehicle on hand that was suitable for the prevailing conditions, so, with concerns for the driver's well-being, a NWP Officer proceeded on foot whilst assistance from the Team was sought.
One Team volunteer, living close-by, was quickly on scene to liaise with the NWP Officer and Driver as other Team members made their way in Team and personal 4x4 vehicles. Having got everyone down to a point where road conditions improved, the driver was then escorted to Dolgellau by NWP, leaving his van and the rest of the day's deliveries to be recovered another day.
At around 5 p.m. , call-handlers from the Team received a request from Dyfed Powys Police to assist the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) in the extraction of an injured mountain biker from a hillside near Machynlleth.
The 25 year old man, from the town itself, had fallen from his bike and injured an ankle on which he was unable to weight-bear. The emergency services were alerted by an off-duty fireman, and preliminary assessment and treatment was conducted by a WAS paramedic. The incident was some distance from the road, on slippery terrrain, and so the request for mountain rescue assistance was made.
Volunteers from the Team assessed the casualty and terrain and established that, at 18 stone, with wet and boggy conditions underfoot, a wheeled stretcher extraction would be required. A stretcher party was deployed and the man was carried to an awaiting ambulance for further treatment at Bronglais hospital, Aberystwyth.
At around 1:00 p.m. the Team was requested to assist North Wales Police with the recovery of a woman's body found earlier in the day adjacent to the Mawddach Trail near Dolgellau.
At about 4 p.m. the Team received a request from the Welsh Ambulance Service to assist in the extraction of an injured man from the hills north of Machynlleth.
The man, aged 68, had slipped and sustained a suspected broken ankle from the slopes of Llanfechan above the village of Ceinws.
As the Team were making their way to the rendez-vous point, the ambulance crew, with the assistance of a local farmer and quad-bike, managed to get the man safely off the hill and the Team was stood down.
At around 5:30 p.m. call-handlers from Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team were made aware of a 41 year old man, missing in the Dyfi forest following the Wales Rally GB stage earlier in the day.
The man, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, was attending the rally with a group of friends. He was last seen by the other members of his party at 7:00 a.m. as they made their way to spectator viewing positions within the forest, and the plan was to meet-up back at the car at 1:00 p.m. When the man failed to make this rendezvous and could not be raised by phone, his friends started searching the woodland themselves, and ultimately the police were informed.
With very difficult weather conditions and darkness fallen, assistance was sought from the Aberdyfi Team. Rescue volunteers rendezvoused at Aberangell on the edge of the forest and, with air support ruled out by the bad weather, were confronted by a large search area with only scant and sometimes conflicting information about the missing man to work on. Having drawn up a list of potential scenarios to explain the man's disappearance, the Team started searching likely areas of the forest while Officers from North Wales Police followed up some of the other leads, and it was their work that ultimately led to the unraveling of this particular puzzle. Working on the possibility that the man had left the forest and gone home, Officers contacted local taxi firms to see if they had driven anyone fitting the man's description. With a few calls they found a local firm who had indeed given the man a ride....all the way to Wiltshire. At around 10:00 p.m., with checks made in Wiltshire to confirm that this was indeed the missing man, the search teams were pulled back from the forest and the Team was stood down.
At around 9:45 a.m. volunteers from Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team were made aware of two walkers lost on the summit of Cadair Idris.
Climbing the mountain via the Minffordd path, the two men had spent the night in the summit shelter. On setting out the following morning they had become disorientated in the extremely poor weather conditions, and aware of the proximity of cliff-faces in their area, had sought assistance.
To establish the position of the walkers, Team call-handlers used the SARLOC protocol which enables the casualties smart-phone to be quizzed for its location. With this information to hand, call-handlers were able to advise the walkers about the best route off the mountain.
At about 11:00 a.m. the men got back in contact, being unable to proceed because of the amount of water flowing through the Llyn Gafr outfall. Team volunteers were dispatched up the hill and escorted the men down off the mountain.
At around 3:30 p.m. the Team received a request from the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) to assist in the extraction of a 60 year old man who had fallen following a suspected stroke at Dolgoch falls. No sooner had the call-out been sent than the news came that the Ambulance crew had managed to get the man out, and the Team was stood down.
At about 4:00 p.m. the Team received a second request from WAS, this time to assist with a 64 year old woman with a broken leg on the hills above Abergwynant. A Paramedic was on-scene when volunteers arrived, and the Team provided a vacuum splint before extracting the casualty by wheeled stretcher to the nearby ambulance.