The first casualty is retrieved. Photo: Keswick Mountain Rescue Team

The first casualty is retrieved. Photo: Keswick Mountain Rescue Team

A rescue team warned of the dangers of tackling an accident blackspot route after it had to go to the aid of two separate groups yesterday.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team said the walkers involved could have been killed in the incidents on Sharp Edge on Blencathra.

The team was alerted after a teenager fell from the edge and others on the route got stuck in conditions described by the team as treacherous underfoot. Five walkers and a dog got into difficulties while trying to make their way down the ridge.

A spokesperson said: “Sharp Edge is hazardous at the best of times, but after rain it is very slippery for a number of days, and descending it is more difficult than ascending.

“This is one incident that could have led to fatalities, given the conditions.”

The Keswick team said a woman and her son, who had a dog with them, reached the 868m (ft) summit of Blencathra about 1pm on Monday.

The team spokesperson said: “They were advised that it would be safe to descend Sharp Edge by a group of three, who then descended in front of them.

“The ground conditions were very slippery, and when they arrived at the area by the bad step, the three in front decided that it was unsafe to continue.”

“As they turned to make their way back up, the youngest, a 17-year-old, lost his footing and fell 20m down the ‘usual gully’.

“He was incredibly fortunate to be able to arrest his fall, suffering only minor abrasions, but he was unable to make his way off from what was a precarious position.

“His 19-year-old brother then attempted to get down to him, and then got stuck about 20m away on the other side of the gully.

Sharp Edge

Sharp Edge

“Their father managed to cross the gully, but was then unable to assist in any way, other than ringing for assistance.

“A member of the public managed to get to the casualty and ascertain that he was largely uninjured, and gave him a space blanket to keep him warm.

“The lady and her son were witnesses to this incident, and were so traumatised that they were cragfast, unable to get up or down, not helped by the fact that they also had a dog with them.”

The spokesperson said an air ambulance that attended was unable to access the site because of low cloud and strong winds.

Rescuers made their way to the scene and split into two groups: one to retrieve the woman and her son from the upper section of the edge, and the other to rope the casualty down to the lower path from where he could be taken to Scales Tarn below the ridge.

The spokesperson added: “Conditions underfoot were very treacherous, and it took some time to set up a rigging system in order to undertake both rescues. In the event, it took nearly five hours before both groups had been rescued, and walked down to Scales.”

The 17-year-old went to Keswick Cottage Hospital for a check-up and to have cuts dressed.

Rescuers said both men in the gully were above a drop of 150m.

The rescue operation involved 15 Keswick MRT members and a further call for help that came in during the Sharp Edge rescues following an incident on nearby Bannerdale Crags was dealt with by Penrith Mountain Rescue Team.

Sharp Edge is a grade-one scramble, described in Brian Evans’s Scrambles in the Lake District as ‘justly popular’ but Evans warns: “It can be slippery when wet; a major undertaking in strong wind.”

For a descent, he advises: “Aim for a wall with a steep right wall and follow this, encountering one steep step near its foot.

“This is all very exposed and becomes dangerous if slippery of if there is any snow about.”

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