Rescuers at the site of the incident on Tryfan. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

Rescuers at the site of the incident on Tryfan. Photo: Ogwen Valley MRO

A group stranded on a Snowdonia mountain was rescued in a night-time operation lasting more than 11 hours.

One of the party of five was also rescued after separating from his colleagues and becoming lost.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was alerted shortly after 5pm on Saturday when the students got stuck on Tryfan.

A part of five from the Midlands had travelled to north Wales for the weekend.

Chris Lloyd of the rescue team said: “They started rather late in the day for their planned scramble which was meant to take them up the North Gully on the East Face. Early in the expedition, one of the young men was not comfortable about the route and decided to return to their minibus, wisely getting the key.

“Later, he was to change his mind and he tried to find an easier route via Bwlch Tryfan and the South Ridge.

“The weather was deteriorating rapidly as per forecast, with lowering cloud level, strong gusty winds and sharp wintery showers as well as with failing daylight. The party of four thought they would escape via the Eastern Traverse, but in fact were 200ft lower. Their escape took them across several rock climbs until they became cragfast in Green Gully area.

“Shortly after 5pm they made the 999 call. After investigation by the team leader to try to ascertain their location, four team members were deployed to scramble up the wind battered North Ridge and onto the Eastern Traverse.”

Meanwhile, the man who had separated from his group called 999 to say he was lost, had no torch or map and no credit on his mobile phone. He said he had no clue as to where he was.

Mr Lloyd said: “Without being able to contact him, the only clue was a trace on the original phone call.

“This put him at low level, possibly on the ‘old road’ which runs along the south side of the valley from Capel Curig to Llyn Ogwen. Three search parties failed to locate him until he appeared on the roadside at about 8.30pm.

“This wet, exhausted and frightened student was picked up and taken to Oggi Base for feeding, drying out and warming up, before eventually being delivered to his climbing hut in Capel Curig.

“In atrocious weather, the advance party was struggling to locate the hillwalkers. They were not on the Eastern Traverse, in North Gully or on the North Ridge or summit. By 9.30pm they were located on the crags below the traverse and more rope was required to reach them.

“A second rescue party of four was despatched with longer ropes. Just after midnight the first cold and soaked student was raised up to safety and escorted from the mountain.

“Despite the atrocious conditions, a request was made for the Coastguard’s helicopter from Caernarfon. It was hoped that a forecast respite from the weather and the successful raising of the remaining three students could be coordinated.”

The helicopter crew managed to complete two airlifts of everyone from the North Ridge just below the North Tower. Mr Lloyd said: “This was very skilful flying. As the weather was so poor, all the rescue equipment was left on the hill and retrieved by team members on Sunday.”

After a warm up and tea and soup at the rescue team’s base, Mr Lloyd said the students were given a debrief and some advice so that they can continue to enjoy the mountains safely.

The rescues involved 12 volunteers from Ogwen Valley MRO.

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