Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation had to contend with four simultaneous incidents. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation had to contend with four simultaneous incidents. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Rescuers in the Ogwen Valley in north Wales were involved in a 10-hour operation to bring a 73-year-old woman and her son to safety after they got lost on the Glyderau range.

It was one of five callouts for Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation on Saturday, four of which were underway at the same time.

North Wales Police contacted the team at 7.45pm after the walkers reported themselves lost in thick cloud somewhere on Glyder Fawr.

Chris Lloyd of the team said the team was already dealing with other incidents: “The mother was totally exhausted and cold.

“With a shortage of manpower, a request was made for the assistance of RAF Lossiemouth MRT who were training in Snowdonia and Aberglaslyn MRT.

“A party of seven Lossiemouth troops moved up the Gribin Ridge from Ogwen towards Glyder Fawr, while a small party from OVMRO ascended the path beneath the Devil’s Kitchen at the back of Cwm Idwal.

“Just before 11pm, voice contact was made with the casualty party on the scree slope on the west side of Glyder Fawr. The couple had driven up from the Home Counties the previous day and made an overnight stay on the Welsh Borders.

“They had left the car park by Idwal Cottage at about 10am and enjoyed the magnificent mountain scenery in the sunshine and blue skies. They walked to Cwm Idwal and up the path beneath the Devil’s Kitchen.

“Climbing the steep loose footpath, they made their way onto Glyder Fawr, then across the moonscape to Glyder Fach. As they backtracked their route, the weather had deteriorated, the cloud descended and visibility was reduced.

“Once the members of the rescue teams located the couple, the mother was found to be not very responsive.”

The team requested help from the Caernarfon Coastguard helicopter and the aircraft arrived in the Ogwen Valley about midnight.

Mr Lloyd said: “It made attempts to access the casualty from both the Ogwen and Nant Peris sides, but the cloud level remained low.”

The helicopter airlifted team members who had just completed a rescue on the other side of the Ogwen Valley, and flew them to the back of Cwm Idwal.

Mr Lloyd said: “Here the stretcher party climbed the steep footpath up to Llyn y Cwn. Fortunately, with the aid of warm clothing and high energy food, the casualty was able to walk slowly down the slope towards the lake and then towards the path down to Nant Peris.

“As soon as the stretcher party caught up with them, she was loaded on board and the long, steep and difficult descent which was made by members of Ogwen, RAF Lossiemouth, North East Wales Search and Rescue, and Aberglaslyn MRT’s arriving at the vehicles at 4.30am.”

The two walkers were taken to the team’s base in the Ogwen Valley to be warmed up and were given food and hot drinks. Mr Lloyd said: “The lady had made a rapid and full recovery. The team leader highlighted some of their poor decisions and the extent of the efforts made to bring them to safety.”

When the team was alerted to the lost pair on the Glyderau, its members were dealing with an injured climber on the Carneddau. The man injured his ankle after completing a route on Amphitheatre Buttress on Craig yr Ysfa.

Initially, it was thought the callout was to an incident in the South Snowdonia team’s area, but it was then confirmed the climber and his wife were in the Ogwen Valley. Mr Lloyd said: “They were huddled in a casualty shelter at the top of the cliff but as the weather was deteriorating and cloud level rapidly descending, they were concerned as they had no additional clothing to keep warm.

“A request was made to North Wales Police for the assistance Rescue 936, the Coastguard S-92 helicopter.

“However, the aircraft could not reach the stricken couple due to low cloud. It could lift Ogwen members and rescue equipment high up onto the 1,000m-plus mountain. Realising that there was a strong possibility of a long stretcher carry, Ogwen asked if their neighbours from Newsar could assist. Several Newsar members had been giving safety cover on the Snowdon Race, so were immediately available.

“By 7.20pm, after some casualty care, the husband slowly hobbled towards Bwlch Eryl Farchog, the col between the Ogwen valley and Cwm Eigiau. His wife was escorted from the mountain so that arrangements could be made to reunite her with their car which was in the Conwy Valley.”

A rope system was set up ready for a steep stretcher carry down the zig-zag path. “However, with gritted teeth, our casualty continued to hobble down the steep path,” Mr Lloyd said. “Once he was on the narrow path which skirts Ffynnon Llugwy along a steep slope, the casualty opted for the stretcher. Members of Ogwen and Newsar teams carried the casualty to the roadhead where we were met with rescue team vehicles.”

The rescue ended about midnight.

While the incident was being dealt with, the Ogwen Valley team was notified that two men who were walking the 15 3,000ft peaks in Snowdonia had become lost in the low cloud, somewhere on the Carneddau.

Mr Lloyd said: “Initially, telephone contact could not be made. It was only a couple of hours later when the team leader tried once more, contact was made. Both men had successfully descended to their car in the Conwy Valley. However, they had forgotten that search teams were looking for them and therefore failed to report their safety.”

Earlier in the afternoon, the team was called out to a man in his late 20s or early 30s who injured his ankle while scrambling in the Afon Du gorge in the Conwy Valley.

Chris Lloyd said: “Two local team members were despatched and found that the man had successfully hobbled to the top of the gorge and was on the single track road. Analgesics were administered and his ankle splinted. He was then driven down to his car at the bottom of the gorge.”

About 5pm, Llanberis MRT passed on an incident to the Ogwen Valley team. Initially, reports said a man was suffering from food poisoning on Snowdon. Further enquiries by ambulance staff established he was camping in the Pen Y Bont area. An ambulance crew found the man on a forest track and rescue team members were stood down.

On Sunday, the team was put on alert when walkers came across a man who had become separated from his 18-year-old daughter on the Carneddau. The Caernarfon Coastguard helicopter flew to the scene and airlifted the man to the team’s base, where it was confirmed the woman had made her way safely to the family’s car.

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