The walker is helped to the helicopter on Moel Siabod today. Photo: OVMRO

The walker is helped to the helicopter on Moel Siabod today. Photo: OVMRO

A Snowdonia mountain rescue team was kept busy over the bank holiday weekend with four callouts.

At one stage, a main road had to be temporarily closed while a rescue took place because of the risk of falling rocks.

The first callout for Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was early on Saturday when two young men from Warrington in Cheshire called police for help while on a multi-day trip. One of the walkers was taken ill on the south-west side of Moel Siabod, between Dolywyddlen and the Pen y Gwryd Hotel.

The team was alerted at 7.30am and its leader immediately asked for help from RAF Valley’s Sea King helicopter.

Chris Lloyd of the OVMRO said: “Meanwhile, using Sarloc, the casualty’s location was confirmed. Team members were called out and made their way around to the south-west side of Moel Siabod. The helicopter beat them to it and winched the casualty aboard by about 8.30am.

“He was flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd at Bangor. His colleague was brought to Oggie Base by team members. From there he was able to arrange a pick up from a family member. A really unfortunate incident for two well equipped and organised young men.

“The weather remained poor with low cloud and strong winds. Snow was falling on the tops.
On the western hills of the Carneddau, a gold Duke of Edinburgh’s party of six teenage girls from the Birmingham area was making its way down.

“Shortly after 12.30pm, two of them could progress no further and complained of suffering from hypothermia. The party stopped, a tent was erected to shelter the girls from the weather and mountain rescue was called for.

“A small party of local members drove up to the foothills and after a short walk, found the girls. After a discussion, the whole party was able to walk the few hundred yards to the road and to the expedition supervisor.”

Mr Lloyd said, as team members drove back towards their base about 2.30pm, they were flagged down by three men near the Braich Ty Du crags.

“The men reported that they were part of a group of nine from Norfolk,” he said. “They had climbed the south path up Pen yr Ole Wen, the southernmost 3,000ft Carneddau. On the tops, they encountered low cloud, strong easterly winds and snow.

“In the mists, they had tried to retrace their steps but had drifted to the north-west on to the ridge leading down to Bethesda.

“They then cut down the step loose bilberry-covered slopes to the A5 road in the Nant Ffrancon. The descent was difficult and strenuous made more awkward by the strong winds and wintry showers. The 67-year-old man in the party complained that his legs had turned to jelly and that he could continue no further.

“The three men were picked up by the Land Rover and taken to Oggie Base. Once again, Sarloc was successfully used to locate the casualty. This was not a good place to be.

“An advance party was deployed, accessing the casualty via a steep and loose gully. The stretcher party attempted a safer route, though the bilberries and heather concealed numerous ankle- and shin-breaking voids between the rocks and boulders.

“At the casualty site, an attempt was made to warm and refuel the man in the hope that he may be able to make his own way down with careful supervision. However, this was not to be.

“The possibility of a vertical stretcher lower down the loose crags and screes below was not an attractive or safe option. A horizontal stretcher carry across this awful ground to a place where there was better access down the slope was equally unattractive in the interests of team members’ safety.

“The ideal option was a winch out by RAF helicopter. Initially, this was found to be in Carlisle but it was able to join us after a refuel at RAF Valley. Battling against strong gusting winds, the Sea King made several attempts to get to the casualty site.

“Apart from the strong winds, the rescue was complicated by the fact that the casualty was on the port side of the aircraft. The crew prefers the starboard side as the captain and the cargo door are on that side. On the final attempt and in a slight lull in the gusts, the winchman was lowered and the casualty lifted in a very swift and expert operation.

“The casualty was flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd. The remainder of the group from Norfolk made their way down with team members. As the party came within a few hundred feet above the A5 road, the road was closed to traffic for a few minutes due to the considerable risk of rocks being dislodged and falling to the road.

“The Norfolk group came to Oggie Base for soup, tea and rewarming in front of the wood burner, before going to the hospital in search of their colleague. This callout was concluded at about 6pm.”

The team was in action again today after shortly before 11am, for a man with a knee injury on the south ridge of Moel Siabod.

Mr Lloyd said: “The well equipped couple in their late 30s-early 40s from the Caernarfon area were descending the rocky footpath when the man badly twisted his knee. Despite his best endeavours to continue down the ridge, he was unable to. A hasty party soon located the casualty and his wife.

“They were followed by the stretcher party of about 12 MRT members. Fortunately, with good flying conditions and a good local landing zone, the yellow Sea King from RAF Valley was able to save the day and a long stretcher carry. The aircraft landed on and the casualty was assisted to hobble to it and hop aboard for the flight to Ysbyty Gwynedd.

“His wife walked down to the A5 road with team members. The whole incident was concluded by about 2pm. Again, just an unfortunate incident that could happen to anybody.”

Sunday was no day of rest for team members as they had a training day on dealing with road accidents.

Mr Lloyd said: “The training started at 10am with a very informative talk by a sergeant from North Wales Traffic Police.

“He explained what we can and what we should not do in the event of assisting at a road traffic collision. This was followed by a presentation from a paramedic who gave us up-to-date information regarding casualty care in extraction of a casualty from a vehicle.

“After lunch, we looked at motorcycle incidents. A demonstration was given in the removal of motorcycle helmets. A very useful day without any calls to the hills.”

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