Scafell. Broad Stand is to the extreme left of the mountain

Scafell. Broad Stand is to the extreme left of the mountain

A walker who fell at a Lake District accident blackspot found himself dropping in on rescuers who were already tending to a man who had fallen at the same place minutes earlier.

The bizarre double accident, involving unrelated mountaineers, happened on Broad Stand, between Scafell and Scafell Pike. Both men were airlifted to hospital after treatment at the site.

Julian Carradice of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team said the incident was unique in his 30 years’ service in mountain rescue.

The team was called out at 3pm on Thursday to reports that a 32-year-old Penrith man had injured his arm after falling 25m (80ft) down the crag, which overlooks the col on Mickledore, between England’s highest and second-highest mountains.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Wasdale team, said: “Further information suggested that the injuries could be more severe. As the team arrived on scene a second walker fell from exactly the same place and landed amongst the rescuers. This casualty suffered almost identical injuries but received immediate first aid. None of the rescuers were injured.”

Broad Stand. Photo: Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team

Broad Stand. Photo: Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team

Mr Carradice said the rescuers had been attending the first casualty for only a couple of minutes when he heard a shout and the sound of the second man sliding down the rock slope. He tried to break the man’s fall, but the walker, a 43-year-old from Manchester, also injured his arm.

Both men were flown by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer to West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, for further treatment. 17 rescuers were involved in the incident.

Mr Warren warned: “Broad Stand appears on maps as a short cut between Scafell and Scafell Pike but it involves a short, but treacherous descent down a rock face that has claimed many victims over the years.”

In February 2008, 49-year-old David Woodland, of Gloucestershire died in a fall on Broad Stand. The previous year, 59-year-old Ambleside man Peter Keely also suffered fatal injuries at the site.

Broad Stand figures as one of three accident blackspots on the Wasdale MRT site, along with Piers Gill and Lord’s Rake. It is also on the route of the Bob Graham Round, a 116km (72-mile) challenge in which 42 peaks are tackled within 24 hours.

Alfred Wainwright described Broad Stand in one of his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells as ‘the greatest single obstacle confronting ridge-walkers on the hills of Lakeland’.

Broad Stand, though a rock climb, is rated ‘easy’. It has one particularly awkward move, and the rock at this crux point is polished and smooth, with a 9m (30ft) immediate drop if a fall occurs. A safer route at the crux is to move in away from the exposed edge into the corner of the rock, where there is less of a drop. However, none of these are classed as suitable for walkers.

The safest route for non-climbers is a short descent from the col down the Eskdale side of Mickledore, then a short scramble up to Foxes Tarn before heading for Scafell’s summit.

Mr Carradice recently removed three badly placed climbing bolts which had mysteriously appeared on the crag. He removed them on safety grounds after consulting the mountain’s owner, the National Trust, the British Mountaineering Council and the Fell and Rock Climbing Club. The bolts were unlikely to survive the freeze-thaw of a winter and were in contravention of British climbing ethics, which seek to keep mountain crags and climbing routes free of permanent protection.

In any case, said Mr Carradice, there are far better placements on the route for natural protection.

Samuel Coleridge reputedly recorded the first recreational rock climb in the district in 1802 by descending Broad Stand by hanging from its rock and dropping on to the narrow ledge below.

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