The helicopter at the rescue scene. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

The helicopter at the rescue scene. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

A main road through Snowdonia was closed today after a climber was seriously injured after dislodging a large rock which then crashed on to the carriageway below.

Traffic was stopped on the A5 through the Ogwen Valley during the rescue of the man who suffered a bad leg injury when the boulder hit him.

Two mountain rescue teams and an RAF search and rescue helicopter were involved in the operation to aid the stricken rock climber, who was tackling a route on Pen yr Ole Wen when the incident happened.

A pair in their mid-40s and from south-east England were on the Pinnacle Rib route on Braich Ty Du crags on the north side of Nant Ffrancon this morning when one of them was hit by the dislodged block.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was called out about 10.30am.

Chris Lloyd of the rescue team said: “The lead climber was only three or four metres up and standing on a rock about the size of a small rucksack, when the rock came away.

The large rock crashed on to the A5 below after hitting the climber

The large rock crashed on to the A5 below after hitting the climber. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

“He fell to the steep scree directly below, but the block followed him, striking him on the lower right shin. This blow caused the serious injury.

“The block continued another 150m down onto the A5 road below.

“Fortunately, no cars were passing at the time. Two local men were close to the incident site.

“As no mobile phone coverage was available, one went to help the casualty party and the other went for help to the phone kiosk at Idwal car park.

“He called 999 for ambulance and for mountain rescue.

“When OVMRO received the call, team members were mobilised.

“Also in the area were 10 members of RAF Valley MRT, who were asked to assist. A request was made for the assistance of the Sea King helicopter from 22 Squadron at RAF Valley.

“An advanced party of Ogwen troops made their way up the steep and loose slopes to start the treatment of the casualty.

“They were soon joined by a stretcher party of Ogwen and RAF members.”

Mr Lloyd said it was thought the climber might have to be made down the steep and loose slope, so equipment was carried up for this too.

The rescue scene on the slopes of Pen yr Ole Wen. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

The rescue scene on the slopes of Pen yr Ole Wen. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

“Fortunately, the yellow helicopter was able to fly in beneath the cloud ceiling of about 1,500ft,” he said. “The casualty was winched up and flown directly to hospital in Stoke-on-Trent.

“The A5 road was temporarily closed in case of further rock fall while team members walked back down to the roadside.

“The climbing colleague and assistant walked down with team members and came to Oggie Base at Bryn Poeth for debriefing and some TLC after witnessing this traumatic incident.”

Surgeons at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire are attempting to save the man’s leg, which was amputated below the knee by the falling rock.

Mr Lloyd described the incident as a most unfortunate accident. “We hope that the surgery will be successful and the casualty will walk the mountains once more,” he added.

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