Tryfan, scene of the three young scramblers' adventure. Photo: Neil Cowburn CC-BY-2.0

Tryfan, scene of the three young scramblers' adventure. Photo: Neil Cowburn [CC-2.0]

A Snowdonia mountain rescue team was kept busy through the week as climbers and walkers struggled in winter conditions.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was called out on Tuesday after a quiet weekend that saw quite a few visitors to the mountains of its area, but no rescue incidents.

A climber called for help after falling about 5m (17ft) on a winter route in Cwm Idwal. His ice screw runner held his fall, but he injured his leg in the short fall.

Chris Lloyd of the Ogwen Valley team said: “His ‘second’ lowered him to the ground. They discussed the situation and decided to call for mountain rescue.”

Some of the OVMRO members were training in the area with a group of paramedics from the United States Air Force based in East Anglia, and went to the scene along with other team members called out about 3.20pm.

Mr Lloyd said: “With the nature of the suspected broken leg, the cold conditions, and limited daylight, the assistance of RAF 22 Squadron [from Valley] was requested.

“With their usual high standard of mountain flying, they were able to hover close to the crag – Clogwyn y Geifr, left of Devil’s Kitchen – lower the winchman then return to winch the casualty to the helicopter for a brief flight to hospital in Bangor.

“His climbing partner walked down with team members.”

Meanwhile, while the rescue was in progress three walkers got into difficulties on the scrambling route up Tryfan’s North Ridge.

Mr Lloyd said: “Three young men from Shrewsbury area were having their first winter adventure on Tryfan.

“These young adventurers had come to the area by public transport and to save money, decided to wild camp in Cwm Tryfan.

“They set off up the North Ridge of Tryfan in the late morning. At least one of the party had been up Tryfan before, though in summer conditions.

“This time the footpaths and rocks were covered with 6 inches or more of powder snow.

“They progressed up the ridge, passing the feature of the Cannon Rock and up to the North Tower. Here the adventure was getting too serious so, correctly, they decided to turn back. Whether it was due to low cloud or failing daylight, they were unable to follow their footprints back down.

“Off route and on dangerous ground, probably on the lower parts of the West Face, they stopped. One brother thought he could find the way and continued. At some stage he slipped a short distance but the only rucksack slipped a greater distance – and that is where it remains.

“More alarmed than bruised, he continued his way down, leaving the rucksack to its own fate, and made his way back to the tent.

“His brother and friend were not so confident to try to descend and correctly dialled 999. It was a very poor line to the police, so information passed onto the mountain rescue was limited.”

The rescuers were faced with a difficult situation. “The scenario was two young men stuck and cold in darkness, with no spare clothing, torches, whistles, food or winter kit somewhere on North Ridge of Tryfan and a third young man missing,” Mr Lloyd said.

“A team vehicle with spotter was despatched to a layby west of Tryfan. Blue lights were flashed and attempts to telephone the party made. A couple of paralume flares were put up to light the mountain side in the hope of seeing two young men without torches but to no avail.

“Two parties of OVMRO troops were deployed up the North Ridge. As the first party started off, telephone contact was made with the two young men. They had decided to make their way back up to the Cannon Rock.

“This was a good decision as we all know the Cannon Rock as opposed to somewhere on Tryfan.

“Meanwhile, the lone brother in the tent saw a paralume flare and assumed people must be looking for him. He came down to the campsite and was told to go across the road to Oggie Base. Here, he told the team leader that he was safe and well, albeit a bit bruised from his fall and very cold, and that there was no need to search for him – a useful action.

“Team members soon made voice contact and then arrived at the Cannon Rock. Here they found two very cold but relieved young men.

“The casualties were given warm drinks and Paramo smocks to warm them up, and headtorches to help them off the mountain.

“The second party of troops, recce’d the best descent route and set up rope handrails for the tricky bits. By about 10.30pm, four hours after the 999 call, everyone arrived back at Oggie Base, to a wood fire, hot tea and pizza.

“While members sorted kit etc, the three adventurers were advised of the error of their ways in the hope that they will benefit from their experience and return one day, properly equipped.

“And on the subject of return: in the rucksack, somewhere on Tryfan, are a wallet and a return ticket to Shrewsbury.

“There was much discussion between the three: if they had enough cash to be able to buy a replacement ticket. Mountain rescue teams provide all sorts of additional help, but financial help is not one of them.

“I hope that in the true spirit of mountaineering that, should someone find themselves ‘off route’ on the lower slopes of the West Face of Tryfan and come across a lonely blue rucksack complete with wallet and rail ticket to Shrewsbury, that they will retrieve it and either hand it to North Wales Police or Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue.

“These three young adventurers need every penny to buy more and better kit for the next adventure. And hopefully, they will not need to call upon mountain rescue again.”

The same day, the team also helped a walker who slipped and injured his ankle near the Bwlch y Brecan between Foel-goch and Mynydd Perfedd.

The man managed to walk off the mountain slowly, helped by his friend but had to ring for help when he reached the old Nant Ffrancon road near Maes Caradog farm. A team spokesperson said: “A team vehicle negotiated the snowy road and brought the casualty back to the A5 where he was transferred to an ambulance. A good effort.”

And today, a woman leading a route on Cwm Cneifion on Glyder Fawr fell 10m and injured her ankle.

Her climbing companion helped her abseil back down the route on Tower Gully but she was then unable to walk out of the cwm, so the team was called out to help her and she was airlifted from the site in a rescue that took 2½ hours.

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