Team members in action during a rescue. Photo: Llanberis MRT

Team members in action during a rescue. Photo: Llanberis MRT

One of Britain’s busiest mountain rescue teams will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend.

The Llanberis team, whose patch includes Snowdon, will gather to mark the event on Saturday.

The volunteers undertake more than 200 callouts each year – something that may account for the late celebrations, six months after its actual anniversary.

Llanberis MRT’s first committee met in May 1968 and led to the setting up of the organisation. Team spokesman Miles Hill said: “The embryo team consisted largely of mountain centre staff and local mountaineers and what little equipment they possessed was housed in these centres.

“In the early days they responded to about 30 incidents annually. Today the team consists of 60 members who respond to callouts on an almost weekly basis. During 2017 the total amounted to 220 callouts and to date this year the number has reached 221.

“This might account for the delay in arranging our celebration evening.”

The team said it is working with the Welsh Government to try to improve efforts to educate the public on the need to prepare for hillwalking trips correctly. It also want to press for more support from Cardiff politicians for the teams’ needs.

Current and past members of the team will gather at the Victoria Hotel in Llanberis on Saturday.

Mr Hill said: “Everyone will have a wealth of memories and accounts of callouts during their period of service.

“It will be an opportunity to recall how the team has developed over the decades, reminisce over past incidents and events and recall the camaraderie and friendships forged often in difficult circumstances.”

From 1973 the team was housed in the garage of the then newly created national park warden centre in Nant Peris thanks to the support of senior warden John Ellis Roberts.

Rescues began by members congregating in the garage and rolling the trailer out of the way. “Space was certainly extremely restricted for the coordination of rescues as well as for storing our ever increasing pile of equipment,” Mr Hill said.

“When the park authority departed the building in 2013 the team jumped at the opportunity to accept the tenancy. Therefore, after 40 years based in the garage the team had access to the whole building and turned it into a more purpose-built resource at a cost of £25,000.”

The base now houses a new operations room, an equipment store room, kitchen and toilet, together with a large multi-purpose hall. Mr Hill said: “The extra space allows more appropriate room for mustering and deploying teams or for comforting casualties. During the last five years three new purpose-built Land Rovers costing around £150,000 have been purchased to transport the team to the hill.

“Over the years team members, equipment and techniques have changed and evolved. One thing that has remained a constant for the Llanberis team is its ethos. We are essentially a group of climbers and mountaineers who use our skills and knowledge to help others when they need it most.

“From the very start we have striven to educate and not to criticise, a sentiment which began with the MountainSafe venture and has led to the development of the Adventure Smart Wales project. This is a multi-agency project aiming to educate potential mountain users how to make their ‘good day better’.

“Our beginnings were as an ad-hoc collective of local mountaineers and outdoor instructors using improvised equipment. Today, Llanberis and our sister teams are now an essential component of our local emergency services providing a highly professional service while maintaining our status as volunteers.”

He said the team regularly comes into contact with members of the police, ambulance, fire and rescue, Coastguard, RAF and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service, all of whom will be welcomed at the celebration.

Llanberis MRT chairman Alun Allcock said: “It’s great to see visitors enjoying the mountains of Snowdonia.

“Certainly the Government’s goals of economic wellbeing and healthy living seem to have been successful if the numbers of visitors to our hills are seen as a benchmark. But, inevitably, the number of callouts have similarly increased over the last decade.”

The team looks set to deal with an ever increasing number of call outs, Mr Hill said, something which is already being addressed.

Mr Allcock said: “Discussions with the politicians in Cardiff have started with the hope of greater support not only towards the support of teams and the upkeep of bases, equipment and transport but also towards educating the public about the need to prepare properly before venturing on to the mountains, to respect the mountain environment and to enjoy their experience safely.”

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