The summit of Y Garn. Photo: David Crocker CC-BY-SA-2.0

The summit of Y Garn. Photo: David Crocker CC-BY-SA-2.0

A couple and their five-year-old child were airlifted from a Snowdonia mountain after getting lost in the dark.

A Coastguard helicopter was requested by rescuers who were concerned for the welfare of the boy on Y Garn on Friday evening.

Rescuers said the West Midlands family was not properly equipped for their trip on to the mountains.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was alerted shortly after 5pm. Chris Lloyd of the team said the couple and their son left the Idwal Cottage car park about 10.30am in good weather.

“Their walk around Llyn Idwal developed as they encountered the footpath closed sign at the foot of the Idwal Slabs and took the diversion sign.

“This led them across the back of the lake to the footpath on the other side. Here they could see a well constructed set of steps going up towards the Devils Kitchen, which they took. The path led them up the side of the cliffs on to the grassy plateau by Llyn y Cŵn.

“From here they could see the summit of Y Garn, so headed for that. On the summit they could see a couple ahead of them who were heading along the ridge to Foel Goch, so they decided to follow them.

“However, weather and conditions underfoot were to change. They were now walking through a snow field in their lightweight summer boots and the cloud was descending. Soon they lost the couple, so decided to retrace their footprints to the cloud-covered summit of Y Garn.

“Without map, compass, local knowledge or experience, they failed to find their way to Llyn y Cŵn but wandered more towards Nant Peris. Without the basic hillwalking equipment which includes a torch, they made the 999 call.”

The team used the Sarloc system devised by former team member Russ Hore, which sends a link to the casualty’s smartphone that, when followed, enables rescuers to pinpoint their position using the phone’s built-in GPS receiver.

Mr Lloyd said: “The major concern was for a five-year-old boy, who had obviously had a long day. It would take team members well over an hour to reach the stricken family.

“A request for MCA’s S-92 [the Caernarfon Coastguard’s helicopter] was made and was quickly granted. They flew direct to the family and brought them down to Oggi base. Here, after a warm-up, some hot tea and a debrief, they were returned to their car at the other end of the valley.”

The previous afternoon, the Ogwen Valley team was called out to aid a group on Tryfan.

Mr Lloyd said: “A group of five adults in their 20s and part of a well known organisation had gone up the North Ridge of Tryfan.

“Whether it was the deteriorating weather, as forecast, or the remnants of winter conditions, the group decided to retreat before attempting the North Tower scramble. They made a frequent navigational error an ended up on the crags above the Milestone Buttress.

“At about 2.30pm they made the 999 call for rescue in the hope they would be plucked to safety by helicopter. MCA’s S-92 helicopter did fly in to survey the scene but realised that, as the group were so close to the path, it was a much greater risk carrying out several long winches than the group taking a short escorted walk by mountain rescue personnel.

“The helicopter returned to Caernarfon and team members escorted the group along the terraces to the path using ‘short’ ropes on any exposed parts of the path.

“They arrived to the comfort of Oggi Base shortly after 6.30pm for a debriefing and a cup of tea.”

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