The team member slid a considerable distance in wintry conditions on Tryfan. Photo: Neil Cowburn CC-BY-ND-2.0

The team member slid a considerable distance in wintry conditions on Tryfan. Photo: Neil Cowburn CC-BY-ND-2.0

A rescuer was saved from serious head injury by his helmet after sliding down a Snowdonia mountainside at the conclusion of an operation to rescue three stranded walkers.

The Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation member was taken to hospital for a check-up after the incident on Tryfan.

The volunteer’s helmet was written off when he slid a considerable distance near the site of a fatal fall earlier this year.

The team was called out on Saturday to rescue three men in their 20s who travelled from Telford to ascend the mountain, which was voted sixth overall most popular destination in the recent ITV programme Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks.

The men arrived in the Ogwen Valley at lunchtime and walked up to Bwlch Tryfan before scrambling up the South Ridge to reach the summit. The weather forecast was for poor conditions, with strong winds and wet or wintry showers.

Chris Lloyd of the Ogwen Valley MRO said: “From there, they decided to descend via the North Ridge, not an easy descent even in good conditions.

“Arriving at The Notch, to avoid the short scramble up on to the ridge on the other side, they took the rather well worn gully down the West Face.

“This led them into the notorious Y Gully, from which only the experienced or lucky escape.

“With failing daylight, low cloud and rain, they soon strayed on to steep and dangerous ground. As two of the young men had limited experience, they wisely called for assistance at about 5pm.

“Although they could describe where they had been, they had no idea whereabouts on the West Face they might be.”

The team used the Sarloc smartphone system to locate them in the Y Gully area.

Ten team members assembled at its base and a spotter was sent to the Idwal car park to try to locate the stricken party.

Mr Lloyd said: “In between periods of low cloud and torrential rain showers, falling as sleet and snow on the mountain, the party’s powerful torch could be seen high up on the mountain. However, with total darkness and cloud, their exact location could not be ascertained.

“The rescue party made good progress in atrocious conditions to get within 50m of the three men. A couple of team members had to make a difficult rock-climb in the sleet and snow to reach the three shortly before 10pm.

“Using ropes, the three were individually lowered in two stages into the gully itself, from where each was walked down the mountain side as soon as they were released from the rope.

“As each escorted party arrived at the A5 road, they were taken to Oggi Base for a warm up and hot refreshment.”

All the walkers were back at the team’s base by 1am and they were then taken back to their car after a debrief by 1.45am.

Mr Lloyd said: “As the remnants of the rescue party descended Brant Gully, under the crags of the West Face, a team member was saved from serious head injury by his helmet after he took a long slide close to the fatal incident site of just three weeks ago.

“His helmet was written off and he was sent to hospital at Bangor for a check-up.

“Today, team members will return to the snow-covered gully to locate rescue equipment which, in the interests of the safety, had to be left in situ.”

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