The man was found by rescuers at the foot of Helvellyn's headwall. Photo: MikeBlakey

The man was found by rescuers at the foot of Helvellyn's headwall. Photo: MikeBlakey

A man has died after being airlifted from Helvellyn following a fall.

The climber was found unconscious at the foot of the mountain’s headwall above Red Tarn following a major search by more than 40 mountain rescue volunteers from five teams.

He was stretchered from the site to a search and rescue helicopter which flew him to hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, but the 68-year-old Penrith man died a short time after arriving at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team was alerted on Tuesday evening after the man’s wife reported about 8.40pm that he hadn’t returned from a trip up the 950m (3,120ft) mountain.

A Patterdale team spokesperson said the climber was very experienced and well equipped and climbed a route on the mountain a few days earlier.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team joined the search for the climber’s car, which was found at Thirlspot. A Keswick team spokesperson said: “As his route was uncertain, the decision was made to search the fell from both sides, with Patterdale organising the search on their side.

A search dog and handler at the rescue site. Photo: Keswick MRT

A search dog and handler at the rescue site. Photo: Keswick MRT

“Kirkby Stephen team was asked to supplement the number of searchers, and seven search dog teams from Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs were mobilised. In poor weather, the teams were at times operating in full winter conditions.”

Penrith MRT also joined the search and a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Ayrshire flew to the scene.

The climber was found lying at the foot of the headwall with serious injuries by a search dog and handler from the Patterdale team about 1am.

Mike Blakey, Patterdale MRT team leader said: “This was a jointly coordinated operation between Keswick MRT and Patterdale MRT. In a situation like this where we have located a vehicle we search all possible routes and locations where a missing person may be, on both sides of the mountain.

“Given the size of the area we requested support from Kirkby Stephen and Penrith mountain rescue teams, the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs and a Royal Navy helicopter.’

“During the very early hours of Wednesday morning Patterdale MRT’s search dog and handler located the missing man on the headwall of Helvellyn. Two doctors and further team members were on scene within minutes, as they were involved in the search nearby.

“The man, who was unconscious, was treated on scene while other members made their way to assist’

“The weather conditions were atrocious and as a result, despite several attempts by the Sea King rescue helicopter, the helicopter was forced to retreat to the Greenside Mines area where it waited for about two hours until the teams were able to carry the man down the mountain on a stretcher.”

The climber was stabilised as much as possible at the scene, and an AutoPulse, which automatically performs cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, was used on him.

Mike Blakey said: “During the evacuation, which lasted 4½ hours, the man suffered a cardiac arrest. The rescue teams, including three doctors and a paramedic by that time, were able to carry out cardiac pulmonary resuscitation until he reached the major trauma centre in Newcastle.

“A rescue team medic stayed with the casualty throughout the flight to hospital.

“Sadly the man, who has not yet been formally identified, died in hospital from his injuries at around 6.30.

“On behalf of all those involved in this very difficult rescue of a fellow mountaineer we would like to express our deepest sympathy to his wife, family and friends. He was well equipped and knew what he was doing in a place that he loved.

“I would also like to express our thanks to all of our colleagues in other teams, the Royal Navy Sea King Crew, police and Air Rescue Coordination Centre in Kinloss for their support throughout.”

The search and rescue operation lasted 10 hours.

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