Rescuers encountered full winter conditions during the overnight rescue. Photo: Wasdale MRT

Rescuers encountered full winter conditions during the overnight rescue. Photo: Wasdale MRT

Rescuers have warned that England’s highest mountain is currently ‘extremely dangerous’ to walkers who are not equipped with crampons and ice-axe.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team issued the warning after encountering full winter conditions during a nine-hour rescue on Scafell Pike overnight.

Some of the paths on the high fells have large areas of ice after melted snow refroze in sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday night, the team said.

Wasdale MRT was called out at 11pm after two walkers failed to return to their holiday accommodation after heading out to Scafell Pike.

A team spokesperson said: “Duddon and Furness team were brought in to help due to the winter conditions and low temperatures and real concern for their safety.

“Around 20-plus team members were involved in this nine-hour incident, plus the Coastguard helicopter from Prestwick that provided aerial infra-red searching.

“Finally, when the two were found by team members on the ground in upper Eskdale, very cold and wet, the crew flew the two walkers to Furness General [Hospital] for warming and checks before being released.

“The mountain threw severe full winter conditions at the searchers on the ground. The mountain is extremely dangerous for anyone venturing out today without crampons and ice-axe plus no experience in full winter conditions.

“The paths are unsafe with large areas of sheet ice where snow had melted the day before and refrozen in the sub-zero temperatures. This will apply to all the high fells, particularly the northern slopes.”

Richard Warren, chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association and a member of the Wasdale team, added: “Hopefully things will get better over the next few days but it’s no place to be without out the right equipment.

“We need to get these messages out there to prevent accidents and walkers getting lost and caught out.”

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