Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team members on Esgair Felen after rescuing two stuck scramblers. Photo: J Kiernan

Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team members on Esgair Felen after rescuing two stuck scramblers. Photo: J Kiernan

Volunteer rescuers whose patch includes the UK’s most visited mountain say they are reaching their limit after revealing they have been called out a record number of times this year.

Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team has passed the milestone of 300 emergency responses for the first time.

Many of these are to incidents on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), which has more than half a million visitors each year.

The team which, like other UK mountain rescue teams, is made up entirely of unpaid volunteers, said: “Although the figure of 300 callouts is a noteworthy milestone, an increase in the number of attendances is now placing huge pressure on the volunteers.

“With incidents frequently occurring during busy holiday periods, team members are increasingly being asked to attend several incidents a day, leading to team member fatigue and the risk of volunteer burn out, especially during busy periods.”

Llanberis MRT chair Dr Richard Griffiths said: “We are hugely lucky that our volunteers are willing to go out at any time of day to rescue fellow walkers, climbers, runners and mountain bikers whose day has gone wrong.

“Our average member attends around 40 callouts per year. The time impact on them and their families’ lives cannot be understated.

“This has been our busiest year yet, and as we get busier and busier there is a very real risk that the service becomes overloaded and we are not able to respond to those in need quickly.”

The team’s 300th incident was a callout in wintry conditions to a walker with a head injury on the Pyg Track on Yr Wyddfa, who was then taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd for further treatment. This was shortly followed by their 301st callout two days later to help a pair of walkers who had become stuck in full winter conditions near the top of Snowdon.

The rising number of callouts also increases the frequency of traumatic, complex and dangerous incidents attended by team members, with the associated impacts on the wellbeing of the team’s volunteers.

The team said, while all team members are passionate about volunteering their time to help people in the mountains and dedicate themselves to the training needed to do this safely, balancing this commitment with their personal lives is an increasingly difficult task.

“Our 56 operational team members have done over 8,000 hours of rescue work so far in 2023,” Dr Griffiths said. On top of this we have to attend regular team trainings, maintain equipment, raise the funds needed to run a charity and many other non-rescue roles too numerous to mention.

“As a group of volunteers we are nearing the limit of what we can do to support those in need in the mountains.”

Llanberis MRT said: “Promoted nationally and internationally as one of Wales’s foremost tourism destinations, Y Wyddfa, stands as the United Kingdom’s, and possibly the world’s, busiest mountain with over 500,000 visitors a year.

“This has led to Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team’s distinction as the most active mountain rescue team in the country. Since surpassing 100 incidents in 2008, we have experienced a remarkable 300 pr cent increase in callouts over the past 15 years, an increasingly unsustainable growth rate for a small charity run entirely by volunteers.”

Dr Griffiths added: “In the coming years we will be looking to continue our work with other stakeholders to reduce the number of mountain incidents on Yr Wyddfa and to build our capacity to respond to this increasing demand. In the meantime, we continue to encourage walkers and climbers to prepare adequately so that they enjoy their time in the mountains by following the key messages from Adventure Smart UK.”

The team first surpassed 100 callouts a year in 2008 and subsequently passed 200 callouts in 2016. This year is the first time that the team has been called out 300 times.

In 2023, it has deployed to 194 incidents (as of 301 callouts). The previous maximum was in 2019 where it deployed to 167 incidents. Its members deployed 158 times in both 2021 and 2022.

Since the beginning of February, Llanberis MRT has had a rescue every weekend except one. It was called out on both Saturday and Sunday on 25 of these weekends.

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