A casualty is winched into a Coastguard helicopter. Photo: Alun Allcock

A casualty is winched into a Coastguard helicopter. Photo: Alun Allcock

The UK’s busiest volunteer mountain rescue team said it cannot sustain the present level of callouts, following a record number during August.

The Llanberis team, which covers Britain’s most popular mountain Snowdon, said a new effort has to be made by those managing mountain tourism to increase hillgoers’ education.

The team covered 43 incidents last month, nine more than the previous record-breaking August in 2015. Its volunteers spent about 1,000 man-hours on rescues, the majority of which involved minor injuries to walkers on the lower slopes of Wales’s highest mountain.

But it also included people who rang for help when they became exhausted, and those tackling the grade-one scramble along the Crib Goch ridge who got stuck. A military helicopter crash-landing on the summit of Yr Aran added to rescue teams’ workload.

Llanberis MRT chairman Rob Johnson said: “We’ve attended a variety of incidents this summer but the most common have been lower leg injuries, people too tired to continue and people cragfast on Crib Goch.

“It has been a massive commitment from a small group of volunteers, each trying to hold down a full-time job and of course have a life of their own over the summer months. 43 incidents in 31 days is not sustainable and serious consideration needs to be given to the future management of Snowdon and its visitors.

“Many of the incidents that we have attended over August were preventable with the right knowledge and equipment and this message needs to be put across at a national level.”

The message echoed that of the Lake District mountain rescue teams who, in one August week, received 25 calls for help, many for walkers lost on Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

The Wasdale team said two-thirds of its callouts were avoidable.

A Coastguard helicopter hovers above Crib Goch during a rescue. Photo: Jamie Rooke

A Coastguard helicopter hovers above Crib Goch during a rescue. Photo: Jamie Rooke

The Llanberis team said Visit Wales’s recent Year of Adventure campaign had seen mountain adventures sold to visitors who are being encouraged to ‘Find their Epic’.

“Unfortunately an increasing number of these visitors are unprepared in terms of both knowledge and equipment and this is leading to more and more people requiring assistance on the mountain – a continuing trend that is proving unsustainable for a small team of volunteers whose funding depends on charitable donations,” a team spokesperson said.

“Over the years we have worked closely with regional and national organisations to try and reduce the number of incidents on Snowdon. However, pressure on the UK’s busiest mountain rescue team has increased significantly over the last 10 years with a 400 per cent increase in the number of incidents reported.

“It is imperative that all agencies involved in the management and promotion of mountain tourism work together to promote mountain safety with the dual aim of targeting people before they arrive in Snowdonia and providing advice on the mountain itself through the national park warden service.”

Phil Benbow, chairman of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, an umbrella body for the rescue teams in the area, said: “All of the mountain rescue teams in north Wales have had a busy summer, none more so than the Llanberis team, and I would fully support the Llanberis team in their call for better awareness of mountain safety in reducing the number of avoidable callouts for rescue teams.

“A bigger effort is needed nationally to educate and inform visitors of the simple steps that they can take to make their adventures memorable for all the right reasons and not rely on rescue teams to plug the gap in their lack of preparation.”

The Llanberis team is the busiest in the UK and responds to an average of 180 callouts each year.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team marks base’s 40th anniversary
  2. Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team put out of action as thieves damage three vehicles
  3. Rescuers urge hillgoers to go prepared as Lakeland teams deal with ‘avoidable’ callouts
  4. Two fatal incidents among 12 callouts in nine days for Wasdale rescuers
  5. Rescue dog finds pair stuck on mountain overnight