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Wales Online
John Jones

Walker with hypothermia saved in huge nine-hour rescue mission in Snowdonia

A walker in Snowdonia was saved in a huge rescue effort that lasted nine hours.

Mountain rescue teams were alerted to a group of four walkers in difficulty on Cadair Idris on Saturday (February 12) afternoon and a rescue operation involving more than 30 volunteers and a search and rescue helicopter was launched, North Wales Live reports.

South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue said the group had continued up the mountain after other members of their party had turned back due to poor visibility, strong winds, heavy rain and hail storms.

Read more: Man rescued from flood waters as heavy rain hits Wales

Near the summit plateau, one of the party started to succumb to hypothermia and was unable to continue. The walkers called for assistance, and call handlers began formulating a plan, but the group were then met by a member of the Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team, who happened to be out walking that day.

The rescue worker helped to protect the deteriorating man, who was slipping in and out of consciousness, while the other three walkers were directed back to the shelter at the summit where they would be out of the worst of the weather.

Their location was then pinpointed through phone-find technology, but due to the terrible weather conditions, the search and rescue helicopter could not reach the casualty site and could only transport a small "hasty (rescue) party" lower down on the south side of the mountain.

The hypothermic man was carried down the mountain on a stretcher as he slipped in and out of consciousness (South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue)

A second group of rescuers then made their way on foot up the Pony Path from Ty Nant, assessed the casualty and prepared him for a stretcher party following on shortly behind.

Having been given dry warm clothes, food and warm drinks, the other three walkers were collected from the summit hut and transported down the rest of the way by the Rescue 936 helicopter, which then returned to pick up the walker with hypothermia, who was in an increasingly critical condition.

After being winched onboard, the casualty was flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in Bangor for further assessment and treatment. All team members were safely accounted for and headed home at 1am, South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team said.

The walker was winched onboard the Rescue 936 helicopter and taken to hospital (South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue)

In total, 31 mountain rescue volunteers spent around 270 hours performing the rescue.

Team spokesperson Graham O'Hanlon said: "The mountains can be enjoyed in a wide variety of conditions with the right equipment skills and preparation, and with the flexibility to alter plans when conditions are not as expected.

"Hypothermia is not just a condition brought on by snow and ice, and this group was evidently not equipped for the well forecast conditions they encountered. The choices made that day came close to costing one person, and possibly all four, their lives."

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