Rescuers lower the injured climber down the mountainside. Photo: Penrith MRT

Rescuers lower the injured climber down the mountainside. Photo: Penrith MRT

Forty volunteer team members battled for more than eight hours to rescue a badly injured mountaineer from a Lake District mountainside.

It was revealed the injured climber was a mountain rescue team member.

Two rescue helicopters had to retreat due to the severe conditions at the crags on the High Street range on Monday.

Penrith Mountain Rescue Team was alerted at 3.20pm after the climber fell on Blea Water Crags at the head of Mardale, overlooking Haweswater.

Because of the severity of the man’s injuries, the team requested the help of the Great North Air Ambulance Service and a Coastguard helicopter. Colleagues from the Kirkby Stephen team also joined the rescue.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, which also took part in the rescue, said the climber was an active member of the team.

A spokesperson said: “This was no usual rescue. The injured man is one of our own. He is a full member of Patterdale MRT and usually involved in rescuing those who are injured.”

A Penrith team spokesperson said: “The area is very steep and craggy with complex ledges and gullies and is currently in full winter conditions.

“Two very experienced mountaineers were climbing when one of them fell approximately 8m sustaining multiple injuries. The other climber was able to immediately provide first aid and shelter for him, which undoubtedly was of great benefit.

“Unfortunately, due to the conditions, the GNAAS helicopter was unable to get close enough to assist the climber and was forced to return to its base. While team members made their way on foot to the scene, the Coastguard helicopter made repeated attempts to get close to the casualty location but was unable to do so due to the very difficult flying conditions and returned to their base to refuel and be available for possible evacuation at a later point.”

Once rescuers reached the site, the Penrith team’s doctor dealt with the casualty, ensuring he had pain relief and his injuries were stabilised while team members rigged a series of technical rope systems to lower the casualty to the Blea Water tarn through the crags.

With the likelihood of a very long stretcher carry out, the help of Patterdale MRT was requested at that point.

The Coastguard helicopter was finally able to winch the man from the fell. Photo: Penrith MRT

The Coastguard helicopter was finally able to winch the man from the fell. Photo: Penrith MRT

The Coastguard helicopter returned to the area at 11.45pm and was able to winch the stretcher while the teams were descending the Blea Water path and the injured climber was flown to the major trauma centre at Newcastle, where he was treated for multiple non-life-threatening injuries.

The spokesperson said the rescue demonstrated the ability of the Lake District’s volunteer mountain rescue teams to work together.

Penrith team leader Kaz Frith said: “Our teams executed a very technical rescue in extremely difficult conditions.

“It was unfortunate that the bad flying conditions for the helicopter crews meant that we were unable to get to, and evacuate, the casualty earlier, but we are always aware that unlike the films, we can’t solely rely on their help.

“Our thanks to everyone involved in the rescue and many best wishes to the casualty for a speedy recovery. We would also stress that the incident was not caused by inappropriately skilled or equipped people – these things sometimes happen and we are only glad to assist.”

Mike Blakey, Patterdale team leader said: “Firstly, on behalf of the entire team I want to wish our team member a very speedy recovery from his injuries.

“I’ve already seen the pictures of him up and about in hospital demonstrating his true spirit. I would also like to pass on our thoughts to his family who are keeping us posted by Facebook and text messages.

The rescue of the fallen team member involved 40 volunteers from three teams. Photo: Penrith MRT

The rescue of the fallen team member involved 40 volunteers from three teams. Photo: Penrith MRT

“I would like to formally thank Penrith MRT for leading and co-ordinating a difficult rescue. Our thanks also go to the Great North Air Ambulance and Coastguard helicopter crew who tried their very best to assist in what were very difficult flying conditions.

“We are grateful to the Coastguard for flying him to the major trauma centre at Newcastle.

“I would also like to formally ask that people do not criticise these climbers as I have already seen on Facebook following the press release issued by our friends at Penrith MRT.

“These two very experienced mountaineers, who usually give up their time for free as rescue team volunteers, happened to be involved in an accident doing what they love. Rescue teams would not be able to put themselves out to help others if they didn’t enjoy the mountains or keep their personal skills high.”

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Badly injured Lakeland mountaineer found after major three-hour search
  2. Climber badly hurt in fall from Lakeland crag
  3. Rescuers work deep into night to rescue injured climber
  4. Two teams in eight-hour rescue of injured walker on Northumberland fell
  5. Climber rescued from Lake District crag after ropes jam during abseil