The rescue involved a complex operation to lower the injured man over difficult terrain. Photo: OVMRO

The rescue involved a complex operation to lower the injured man over difficult terrain. Photo: OVMRO

An injured walker was lowered 500m in a stretcher in a complex rescue before being airlifted from a Snowdonia mountain.

The man, described as a well equipped and experienced hillwalker tumbled between 5m and 10m on the upper reaches of the North Gully on Tryfan shortly after noon on Thursday.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation, whose members went to the man’s aid, said he was with his wife and two young children as well as a mountaineering guide. The walker and his party managed to complete the North Gully, including the awkward climb at its top, but he realised that he would be unable to descend due to his pains.

After examination by the guide, and with the casualty himself being a medical professional, it was decided to alert mountain rescue and at 1pm the Ogwen Valley team was called out.

Team spokesman Chris Lloyd said: “The day was damp and still, with rain showers and 100 per cent low cloud cover. Assistance from the Coastguard’s helicopter was requested.

“By 2pm, the first of four lifts of four mountain rescue troops with rescue equipment were made. The low cloud prevented the aircraft from flying close to the casualty as the cloud was barely above the 900m summit.

“Creeping under the cloud, the helicopter crew winched team members into Bwlch Tryfan. From here, the heavily laden mountain rescue troops made their way over the greasy rocks and boulder fields to the summit and descent into the top of Western Gully.

“The mountain guide and a team member accompanied the casualty’s wife and their two young children safely down the Western Gully. After an examination of the casualty by a fellow medical professional and team member, the casualty was strapped into a stretcher.

“Five ‘stations’ were set up at about 100m spacings down this loose and greasy gully. The stretcher was lowered, carried and dragged down this steep gully by six troops. At each station the lower was stopped while the 100m ropes were reset at the new belay station.

“After nearly 500m of arduous descent the rescuers and the stretcher party came on to steep, wet grass. A break in the clouds revealed Cwm Bochlwyd but the Ogwen Valley was still full of cloud. The assistance of Rescue 926, the Coastguard’s helicopter, was requested once more.

Team members guided the helicopter in using a flare. Photo: OVMRO

Team members guided the helicopter in using a flare. Photo: OVMRO

“Flying up to Ogwen under the cloud, the captain found a window and climbed up to see the hand-held distress flare which pinpointed the rescue party.”

By 6.30pm, the injured man had been winched up and was en route to hospital in Bangor.

The rescuers continued down the wet grassy slopes to the A5 road and to their base for a late lunch and supper.

The rescue involved 16 Ogwen Valley MRO members on the mountain, with another four at the team’s base. Members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, who had been in the area for training, also waited at the Ogwen Valley base in case the injured man could not be airlifted from Tryfan.

Mr Lloyd said: “Thanks are given to the mountain guide, the superb flying by the Bristow crew of the rescue helicopter and the RAF MRT. Credit must be given to the casualty’s wife and two children for remaining calm in such circumstances.”

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