The walker strayed on to the headwall of Helvellyn, above Red Tarn

The walker strayed on to the headwall of Helvellyn, above Red Tarn

A trip up England’s third highest mountain turned into a New Year’s Eve nightmare for a man who got stuck on a rock face for four hours.

Rescuers who went to aid the walker described conditions as atrocious, with winds gusting to 50mph and poor visibility.

The man, who had no crampons and ice-axe, traversed on to the headwall of Helvellyn to avoid snow, and got stuck on steep ground.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team was called out at 2pm yesterday and managed to contact the walker by mobile phone.

A team spokesperson said: “The man had managed to traverse across the mountain until he was unable to return the way he had come or go ahead, becoming stuck on a small ledge.”

An RAF Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer, which was in Carlisle at the time, flew to help the team and managed to airlift five team members to Red Tarn before high winds and deteriorating weather forced it to return to base. Remaining rescuers made their way to the scene on foot.

The spokesperson said: “The first three team members made their way up Swirral Edge and could hear shouts and whistles in the mist but were unable to locate the man.

“They then ascended to the summit of Helvellyn where they spotted another light towards Striding Edge. Unable to locate the man from above, or descend safely to search given the high winds and driving rain, they continued to Striding Edge and descended about 100m.

“Team members then managed to locate the man’s footprints in the snow and followed these across the face for about 250m until it became unsafe to continue due to the difficult craggy ground and weather conditions.

“At this point, a further four team members heard the man shouting again and two team members were able to traverse across from Swirral Edge at a different altitude and locate the man. He was then assisted down a snow gully to Red Tarn and walked off the mountain.

“The man was stuck on precarious ledge for about four hours in total.”

The rescue lasted more than six hours and involved 11 team members.

The spokesperson added: “Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team would like to thank the RAF for their assistance in the very difficult conditions.”

The Patterdale team said 2014 had been its busiest ever year.

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