Rescuers help lower the stranded climbers to safety. Photo: Keswick MRT

Rescuers help lower the stranded climbers to safety. Photo: Keswick MRT

Rescuers who spent more than seven hours bringing a group to safety on a Lake District fell said someone could have died in the incident.

Four people called for help after a one of them was injured by a falling rock on Great End.

The group was scrambling in Central Gully on Saturday when the incident happened.

Two rescue teams were involved in the operation to help the four. Keswick Mountain Rescue Team was alerted by colleagues in the Wasdale team about 3.30pm. Reports said the group was in Cust’s Gully on the north-east face of the 910m (2,986ft) fell.

A Keswick MRT spokesperson said: “The team was very short-handed, and requested assistance from Wasdale, who were just completing an incident.

“The group involved had set out to scramble Cust’s Gully, but had mistaken Central Gully for Cust’s. At a point three-quarters of the way up, a rock came loose, and injured one of the party.

“At this point, they realised the seriousness of their position, and requested assistance. Although a sunny warm day, they were in a north-facing gully, which was damp and cold.”

A team member who was marshalling an event nearby was able to pinpoint the group’s position, but couldn’t reach the climbers. He was able to ascertain the nature of the injury.

Keswick MRT set off to Seathwaite, and a second team vehicle followed, with 200m ropes for a technical lower.

The spokesperson said: “While they were en route, a request were made for RAF Leeming rescue team, who were training in the area, to come and assist, as a long stretcher carry would have required a lot more people.

“Enquiries were also made about the availability of a helicopter, in the event of an immediate evacuation being necessary.”

It took more than an hour for the first team reach the scene, where they quickly rigged ropes to lower a rescuer to assess the injury. Wasdale team members then arrived and once the 200m ropes were set up, arrangements were made to lower the members of the party down the crag to the foot of the gully – about 200m.

The group ascended the wrong gully on Great End. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The group ascended the wrong gully on Great End. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The spokesperson said: “The injured female was assisted down by a team member and then the others followed. Because of the complexity of the ground, and the need to protect all the participants, this took a long time, and by the time the last to be lowered was on the ground, six hours had passed since the initial call.

“The casualty’s group were able to hobble down to Wasdale Head with Wasdale team members, while Keswick members stripped the rigging system down, and made their way wearily back to Seathwaite.

“A successful rescue, but one which could have had fatal consequences.”

The spokesperson added: “Our thanks to the Wasdale team for their assistance, and to the RAF Leeming MRT who stood by ready to assist with the carry off should it be required.”

The 7½-hour rescue involved 11 Keswick MRT volunteers and five from the Wasdale team, while eight RAF Leeming team members stood by.

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