The family was winched from Glyder Fawr. Photo: Peter CC-BY-SA-2.0

The family was winched from Glyder Fawr. Photo: Peter CC-BY-SA-2.0

A family with two young children was winched from a Snowdonia mountain in darkness after they got lost.

The mother called for help when the group became disoriented in low cloud while walking on Y Garn above the Ogwen Valley.

Police alerted the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation shortly before 6pm on Sunday.

Chris Lloyd of the volunteer rescue team said: “The team leader had great difficulty interviewing her over the phone as the line was poor and broken, she was distressed and she had a very strong east European accent with limited English.

“One of the first challenges was that there at least three summits with the name of Y Garn in Snowdonia.

“Gradually, more information was obtained including details of their car, features they had seen on leaving the car – shop, toilets and a white house; features on the path – a quarry, a distinctive metal gate; and then she sent a photograph she had taken earlier in the day from above the Devil’s Kitchen looking into Cwm Idwal.

“She reported being able to see a lake to the South and a road.”

Three search parties went into Cwm Idwal with a view to searching Y Garn via the North East Ridge, from the small lake above the Devil’s Kitchen, Llyn y Cŵn, up to the summit of Y Garn and also the Seniors’ Ridge above the Idwal Slabs heading to Glyder Fawr.

By now, the low cloud that had covered the summits in the afternoon had lifted to reveal a starlit night.

The help of the Caernarfon Coastguard’s helicopter was requested because the party included two young boys.

Mr Lloyd said: “The woman was asked to use the camera flash to attract the searchers’ attention but nothing was seen.

“The helicopter flew over Y Garn, Llyn y Cŵn and the Glyders but no-one was seen despite the use of high-powered search lights. He then climbed high above Llyn Ogwen to search the mountains with forward looking infra-red without success.

“During a further telephone conversation with the woman, she stated that she had not seen or heard the helicopter.

“If the road they could see was not the A5 in the Ogwen Valley, was it the A4086 on the South of the Glyders? Could the party have climbed Glyder Fawr and started descending to Pen-y-Pass or the Pen-y-Gwryd?

“The helicopter was asked to fly over to the other side and while doing so, he located the mother, her two young boys and her husband on the South of Glyder Fawr between the summit and the small lake, Llyn Cwmffynnon, above Pen-y-Pass.”

All four were winched aboard about 10pm and flown to the rescue team’s base. They were warmed in front of the wood burner and with hot drinks.

Mr Lloyd said: “The team leader advised the two parents of their lack of equipment and that they should carry a map and compass, a torch for each of them, more spare warm clothing and spare food.

“The grateful family were then taken back to their car at Idwal Cottage car park for their long drive to the East Midlands. The boys will have a tale or two to tell at school.

“Fortunately the weather improved with the lifting of the cloud, giving good visibility. There was no wind and the temperature was mild. Had the weather remained poor, the ground parties would have had a large search area in limited visibility, well beyond the original report of Y Garn.”

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