Conditions on Sharp Edge during the rescue. Photo supplied by reader Stephen Little

Conditions on Sharp Edge during the rescue. Photo supplied by reader Stephen Little

A father and son who got stuck on a Lake District knife-ridge were described as ‘fortunate’ by rescuers.

The pair were plucked to safety from Sharp Edge by the crew of an RAF helicopter but a mountain rescuer said the outcome could have been very different after the walkers spent an hour and a half trapped in a precarious position on ice.

The rescue on the arête leading to the summit of 868m (2,848ft) Blencathra was the second in four days on the ridge, which is an accident blackspot and scene of several fatalities. A 26-year-old woman suffered spinal injuries in a 10m (33ft) fall on Wednesday.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team was called out shortly after midday today to the pair who became cragfast on the grade one scramble.

A team spokesperson said: “As the temperature in the valley was 4C, it was no surprise to us that there was ice on Blencathra, especially given the volume of rain that had fallen in the last week.

“However, it came as a surprise to a 41-year-old man and his 12-year-old son, who managed to get part of the way up Sharp Edge, and then became cragfast on the gully leading to the summit.

“They phoned for assistance but were stuck for an hour and a half in a precarious position, on very slippery ground.

“The team sent a fast group of six, and also requested the help of an RAF Sea King from Boulmer [in Northumberland].

“The team summited with the necessary equipment in 55 minutes from leaving the base, and the helicopter arrived at more or less the same time as the first team members.

“Some very skilful flying from the aircrew meant that father and son were winched to safety in a few minutes, and were then flown down to their transport at the foot of the mountain.”

Cloud starts to descend during the incident. Photo supplied by reader Stephen Little

Cloud starts to descend during the incident. Photo supplied by reader Stephen Little

The helicopter then returned to the rescue scene and flew team members and their equipment down to their vehicles at Mousthwaite Combe.

The spokesperson added: “This could have turned out very differently, had the two not been able to hang on, and they were very aware of how fortunate they had been.”

At the end of last month, three walkers got stuck on Sharp Edge and one of them was injured after falling 20m (66ft).

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team repeated warnings that the route is notoriously slippery after rain and for some days afterwards. Descent is much harder than ascent, it said, and incidents on Sharp Edge tend to be serious.

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