Rescuers at the scene after the man fell from Sharp Edge. Photo: Keswick MRT

Rescuers at the scene after the man fell from Sharp Edge. Photo: Keswick MRT

A man was seriously injured after falling 160ft from a Lake District ridge.

More than 40 rescuers battled in bad weather to bring the 44-year-old man from Sharp Edge on Blencathra in an operation lasting more than six hours.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team was alerted about 1.25pm on Sunday after the man fell 50m down the north side of the grade-one scramble route.

A Keswick MRT spokesperson said: “One of the places the team really doesn’t want to visit at this time of year is Sharp Edge, because of its wet slippery state after rain or snow.

The rescue took place in difficult conditions. Photo: Keswick MRT

The rescue took place in difficult conditions. Photo: Keswick MRT

“It is one of the team’s blackspots. So when the pagers summoned the team, it was with little surprise that we learned that a 44-year-old male had fallen 50m down the usual gully on the north side.

“His two companions had managed to reach him with the assistance of a passer-by, and found he was badly injured. The team was assembled and mobile within 20 minutes, after requesting the services of a Coastguard helicopter.

“The Great North Air Ambulance, Helimed 58 had also mobilised to the scene.”

The spokesperson said, as his team was initially low on numbers, it requested help from Penrith MRT and a visiting RAF team.

The spokesperson said: “The weather was a significant problem, with low cloud and drizzle. Despite this, the paramedic from the Great North Air Ambulance had managed to reach the casualty, who had head, neck and chest injuries.

“Team members rigged the route to ensure the safety of those in the gully, and the first task was to evacuate the casualty’s companions, and safeguard the medical personnel working on the casualty.

“The companions were walked down to safety by a pair of team members. The Coastguard helicopter then lifted relays of rescuers up the hill, and stood by at the bottom until the casualty had been loaded on to the stretcher, and lowered the further 50m down to the scree at the foot of the gully.

“This took a long time because of the conditions and the need to monitor the patient. During the wait, the weather deteriorated still further, and it became obvious that it would be impossible for the S-92 [helicopter] to evacuate the patient from the scene. The aircraft went to Carlisle for fuel, but once it returned, visibility was no better, and with regret, the aircraft was stood down.”

The man fell at the 'usual gully' on Sharp Edge. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The man fell at the 'usual gully' on Sharp Edge. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The spokesperson said the three teams were faced with stretchering the injured man down to the road, where the he could be put into the air ambulance. “Relays of rescuers, who by now were 47 strong, carried him down over treacherous terrain to eventually reach the foot of Mousthwaite Comb.

“Here he was loaded aboard Helimed 58, and flown to the Cumberland Infirmary. The rescue had taken 6½ hours, and at that point there was still all the clearing up to do.

“We are indebted to the teams and aircrew who came to assist us today, who helped us deliver our patient into safe care.

“We would again reiterate our advice that Sharp Edge is a dangerous place after snow or rain, and needs the greatest of care.”

The Great North Air Ambulance service said the man had multiple injuries including a serious head injury.

An air ambulance spokesperson said: “In strong wind and driving rain, the GNAAS pilot dropped off aircrew paramedic Terry Sharpe at the bottom of the gully before repositioning to a safer location on the valley floor.

“Mr Sharpe negotiated his way down the gully to reach the patient. For around an hour Mr Sharpe waited with the patient and his friends, assessing him and treating his injuries until the mountain rescue teams could get to the scene.”

Terry Sharpe said: “It is a notorious ridge and we have been called to it many times over the years.

“In those difficult weather conditions, the chances of survival decrease. Regardless of his head injury, hypothermia is a very real risk in those conditions. It is therefore paramount that teams work together at rescues like this.

“Everyone worked hard for the best outcome for the patient. GNAAS brings the medical expertise to the scene and MRT bring their rescue knowledge, which gels well.”

The GNAAS spokesperson said the stretcher carry to the helicopter took 1½ hours. Within 10 minutes of being put into the aircraft the injured walker had arrived at hospital in Carlisle. He was reported to be in a stable condition.

The rescue involved 23 Keswick MRT volunteers, 12 from the Penrith team and 14 RAF Mountain Rescue Service members.

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