The man was found asleep on Cadair Idris. Photo: NotFromUtrecht CC-BY-SA-3.0

The man was found asleep on Cadair Idris. Photo: NotFromUtrecht CC-BY-SA-3.0

Rescuers who found a missing walker asleep in the dark on a Snowdonia mountain path said the man could have died if weather conditions deteriorated sooner.

The 47-year-old man became stuck on Cadair Idris when the mobile phone he was using to navigate failed.

He then became benighted on the hill with no torch.

Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team members were called out about 12.30am on Thursday after being alerted to a walker missing on the 893m (2,930ft) peak.

He had set off from his holiday base near Betws y Coed about lunchtime on Wednesday with the intention of climbing the mountain, but when he failed to return and his phone went straight to voicemail, his wife alerted the police.

To try to find out whether the man had actually got as far as Cader Idris, and if so, which route had he taken up the mountain, North Wales Police officers searched the most likely sites, and his car was found at the Minffordd car park.

A rescue team spokesperson said team call-handlers, along with North Wales Police staff, tried to piece together as much information as possible about the man’s activity, intentions, experience and equipment, but with heavy rain forecast and with very little to go on, it was decided to start by searching the three most likely routes up the mountain from Minffordd.

The spokesperson said: “The first two parties of volunteers were dispatched to search Cwm Cau, the South Ridge and summit and were just approaching the cwm when they encountered the man asleep in the middle of the path.

“Disorientated and a little cold, the man was escorted with a little assistance down off the mountain. Everyone was back at vehicles by around 3am.

“According to the man, he had been navigating using his mobile, and had reached the summit. On his descent the phone had stopped working, and although he managed to find the path he was benighted and unable to proceed.

“On arrival back at the carpark the man was given warm drinks and advised that, given his clear state of exhaustion, he should take some time to warm up in his car, and get some rest before attempting the 45-minute drive back to his base.

“The man drove away before the last of the team had left the scene.”

Team member Graham O’Hanlon, who took part in the rescue, said. “In mountain rescue, perhaps against expectation, there is often not a single catastrophic event but instead a series of unfortunate incidents that the experienced mountaineer would take in their stride, but which catch out the unprepared.

“This was a good example of such a cascade. Making use of electronic devices on the hill is now commonplace, but they can and do fail or run out of power. Without any kind of back-up in terms of map and compass, the loss of navigational aids will undoubtedly have contributed to the extended journey time experienced by the walker.

“This in turn led to him being benighted, and with no torch, and no phone to use as a torch, he was unable to proceed.

“Having left no clear plan of his destination or intended route, this may have delayed his partner from raising the alarm, and cost valuable time spent in searching for his car. The forecast heavy rain arrived shortly after we got down off the mountain, and if he had been forced to endure a night in those conditions, the outcome would have been significantly worse.

“In this particular case, the lack of a simple emergency torch meant the man was unable to self-rescue, kept 14 volunteers from their beds, and could have ultimately cost the casualty his life.

“We strongly encourage all walkers to enjoy the mountains safely by taking responsibility for their own safety in terms of equipping themselves appropriately, and by telling someone where they have gone and when they expect to be back.”

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