The Devil's Kitchen, scene of the rescue. Photo: Dudley Smith CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Devil's Kitchen, scene of the rescue. Photo: Dudley Smith CC-BY-SA-2.0

Rescuers in Snowdonia had an epic day rescuing 14 people in four separate incidents late into the night.

Ogwen Valley received the first callout about midday yesterday and it was 1am today when the teams, including colleagues from RAF Valley, completed their missions.

The rescues included four climbers stuck on Tryfan, a walker suffering health problems, a woman with a broken ankle and two men stuck on steep ground over a precipice.

The first rescue came when a 36-year-old woman from London, who was attempting the ascent of Tryfan with work colleagues, was unable to carry on because of sciatica.

Chris Lloyd of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation said: “The group had been going up from Llyn Bochlwyd. At about Bwlch Tryfan, she complained about her sciatica.

“So they gave her the car keys and told her to go back. She was a complete novice and had no idea where she was.

“However, she did manage to get to the lip of Cwm Bochlwyd before losing confidence. A passer-by called 999.”

An Ogwen Valley MRO team member happened to be passing, and after discussions with the incident controller, it was decided to walk down slowly with her.

Mr Lloyd said: “This she did, taking about two hours and taking numerous photographs on the way.

“Rather than leaving her to get cold in a car, a note was left on the car and she was taken to Oggi Base at 2pm for a warm fire and hot tea.

“Several hours later, she was collected by her colleagues.”

Shortly before 5pm two men made a 999 call from near the Devil’s Kitchen. The Essex men, aged 60 and 40, had climbed the North Ridge of Tryfan and Bristly Ridge, then come over Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr. En route, Mr Lloyd said there had been some squally snow showers, so by the time they descend to Llyn y Cwn above the Devil’s Kitchen, there were no signs of the descent path.

“They followed a runnel which took them to the cliff face about 50m east of the main chasm of the Devils Kitchen,” he added.

“While trying to scramble down, one of them took a short slide on the soft snow and steep ground. At that stage they decided to re-evaluate their predicament and rightly made the 999 call at 4.50pm.

“Just after they had one so, the team received another call at 4.55pm. A group of seven students from a Merseyside university had walked up Y Garn and then along the ridge to its north-west limit.

“Descending from Carnedd y Ffiliast, and within 200m of the road, a 19-year-old woman slipped, breaking her ankle.

“And while she was doing that, four of her colleagues were deciding what to do after having an ‘epic’ on First Pinnacle Rib on the East Face of Tryfan. They had started up the climb late morning and the four 20-year-old males climbed as two pairs. They lost the prescribed route.”

Much of the rock and holds had a sprinkling of fresh snow cover, Mr Lloyd said. “After a couple of short slips, and only being halfway up the crag, and with the onset of dusk, and with only two torches for the four, and with deteriorating weather, they telephoned at 5pm to ask for advice.

“They had tried to abseil, but had found this difficult. The advice given was: ‘Stay there before someone has and accident. We will come to get you’. Good advice, but easier to say than do.

“A hasty party of two was despatched with a view to getting above them and giving them a top rope.

“Back at the Devils Kitchen, a hasty party of three had located the two men and was preparing to lower one troop with a view to bringing the men up. Three other team members were also following with a couple of 100m ropes and associated ironmonger and pulleys.

“Responding to the girl with the broken ankle, two team members sought support of 10 members of RAF Valley MRT who had just completed a long day on the hill.

“They all made their way up the slope, and then stretchered the 19-year-old woman down, to await the National Health Ambulance to arrive, which it did eventually. That job was completed by 7.43pm, releasing troops for Tryfan.

“Meanwhile, the two cold men on the Devils Kitchen were hauled up and taken down the correct path. Their eyes were opened when we showed them where they had been and the consequences had they decided to continue.

“They were taken down to Oggi Base by 9pm where they could warm in front of the log burner, drink hot tea and hot soup, followed by hot pasties and fresh pizza. They were then driven to their car which was at the foot of Tryfan.”

RAF Valley's Sea Kings often help the Llanberis team

An RAF Valley's Sea King joined the rescue

Mr Lloyd said as team members fought their way up the North Ridge, followed by a party of RAF and Ogwen with all the heavy gear, they encountered a lot of fresh snow cover, frequent bouts of squally showers, punctuated with a starlit and moonlit night. “Interest was added with some spectacular lightning,” he added.

The crew of an RAF Sea King helicopter from 22 Squadron [at Valley] was flying back from Stoke after a patient transfer.

“Had they arrived 10 minutes before, they might well have been able to snatch the four,” Mr Lloyd said. “But, they arrived at a time of weather not conducive to hovering adjacent an 800ft crag at night.

“So after raising everyone’s hopes, they flew back to Valley at about 9.30pm.

“Our troops continued, with the hasty party getting to about 30m above the four.

“At about 10.15, the helicopter returned. They crept up the East Face being showered by clouds of fresh snow.

“Their spotlights lit up the rock face until they could identify the four. Holding a hover close to this 800ft cliff and with down draughting and clouds of snow to obscure clear vision of the rock face, they managed a very quick snatch of the two pairs.

“They flew down to Oggi base for 10.30pm, where the four were treated to the log fire, hot tea, hot soup, hot pasties etc.

“Meanwhile hot pizza was delivered to the crew on the aircraft which was parked, rotors running on the landing zone while the pilots reviewed the previous 10 minutes or so.

“The decision was made that it was just too risky to try to get back to the two team members who were about 30m above the incident site and the aircraft returned to RAF Valley.”

He said the two team members climbed up to complete the route and followed the mixed party of Ogwen Valley and RAF troops down the mountain arriving at Oggi Base about 1am.

Mr Lloyd said: “The good news is that there was still a log fire burning, hot tea, hot soup, pasties and pizza!”

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