Llalnberis team members in action in the Cwm Glas rescue. Photo: Llanberis MRT

Llalnberis team members in action in the Cwm Glas rescue. Photo: Llanberis MRT

A man who fell more than 150 feet from Wales’s highest mountain was very lucky not to have fallen further, rescuers said.

The 28-year-old from north Wales managed to arrest his fall after a large cornice gave way on Snowdon, plunging him down the mountainside.

Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team warned there is a considerable avalanche risk on the area’s mountains at the moment, with lots of unstable snow and large cornices.

The team was called about 1.30pm yesterday to help a man buried in an avalanche on the mountain about the same time as the fallen walker called for help.

Phil Benbow of the rescue team said the man who fell had walked up the Watkin Path to Snowdon’s 1,085m (3,560ft) yesterday.

Mr Benbow said: “Due to weather conditions he decided to descend via the Llanberis path.

“He followed the railway line for a time and then as the ground steepened in very limited visibility he contoured around unintentionally towards the rim of Cwm Glas.

Cornices can collapse under a walker's weight

Cornices can collapse under a walker's weight

“In very poor visibility he walked onto the large cornice that exists and fell through it falling perhaps 50m. He managed to arrest his slide and struggled a short distance up hill to a safer location and called 999 for mountain rescue.

“Four members of the team deployed on foot and with the aid of Sarloc [smartphone software] searched in extreme conditions for over an hour in at times 3m visibility until the casualty was located 50m down in the cwm.

“A team member descended on a rope and recovered the casualty to safe ground.

“The rescue team noted that there are significant and very unstable cornices around the cwm, extending 3 to 4 m out from stable ground. The casualty was cold but otherwise uninjured, and was very lucky that he managed to arrest his fall after 50m.”

Mr Benbow said there were winds of up to 90mph with whiteout conditions at times on the mountain.

He said: “The walker was equipped for the conditions, in that he had suitable clothing and boots but although he had crampons he was using poles and did not have an ice axe or map and compass

“He was very lucky to have not fallen further. Goggles would have helped in the conditions as would a map and compass.”

Rescuers said the Llanberis path is not the safe option for descent in winter conditions.

More details have emerged of an avalanche that hit eight people around the same time on the mountain, about 500m away on one of the main paths up the popular peak.

An RAF Sea King flew two of the walkers to hospital. Photo: Aberglaslyn MRT

An RAF Sea King flew two of the walkers to hospital. Photo: Aberglaslyn MRT

Mr Benbow said a group of walkers making its way up the Pyg Track was caught in the avalanche on the zigzags below Bwlch Glas.

The eight were swept down the mountainside for various distances, with a 28-year-old man and woman in her 20s from the Bristol area being carried about 200m (650ft).

The man was buried under about 4ft of snow and the remaining six walkers were joined by passers-by in digging the man out before they called mountain rescue.

A total of 25 Llanberis team members were joined by seven colleagues from the Aberglaslyn team in conditions described as very difficult.

The two injured walkers were stretchered down to Glaslyn where and RAF Sea King search and rescue helicopter was able to land and fly them to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

Mr Benbow said the walkers were suitably equipped.

He warned: “There is considerable avalanche risk at present especially on loaded east- and –north-east-facing slopes. Anyone venturing out over the next few days should take account of this and plan their routes accordingly.”

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