Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team rescued a lost walker on Snowdon last night, in ferocious conditions. It is only by luck that the poorly equipped man survived, they say.
The 19-year-old had climbed Snowdon alone via the Llanberis Path, but thanks to poor visibility he got lost in descent, ending up crag-fast on the flank of the Crib y Ddysgl - mountaineering ground, in winter conditions. Dressed for the high street rather than a winter mountain in a storm, the team say that his speech was already slurred by the onself hypothermia by the time he telephoned for help.
Rescuers were called in fading light and foul weather. Even down Capel Curig wind speeds of 83mph were recorded last night.
'The conditions reported by the first party were so extreme that we had to seriously consider whether we could justify deploying more people to the area' said the coordinator responsible for the incident.
'On the one hand we had a young walker in jeans, plimsolls and a leather jacket rapidly succumbing to hypothermia, on the other a responsibility not to put team members' lives in such serious danger. There was a real possibility that we might have been forced to leave him there on the mountain.'
The initial search area was large, and included steep and technical terrain. With poor visibility on the hill, it was through 'sheer luck', say the team, that the last two members of the search heard the man as their group passed him by.
One of the first team members to reach the casualty said:
'I'm certain that if we hadn't found him when we did we would have been recovering his body the next morning.'
'Those of us at the front of the group had passed within 100 metres of him and were on our way to search further up the mountain. It was pure fluke that the wind subsided when it did. He was in a difficult to reach location and with conditions due to get worse a detailed search of that area would have been impossible. He is very lucky to be alive.'
Because of his precarious position at the top of a gully where a number of fatalities have previously occurred, the team used ropes to get him to safe ground. He was then helped down to team vehicles and driven to the base in Nant Peris for 'a bit of friendly advice.'
However Rob Johnson, the team's new Chair, was keen not to apportion blame:
'The team does not aim to criticise or seek to attribute blame on anyone that it rescues' he told us.
'We attend every rescue voluntarily, we fully accept and enjoy the risks involved and recognise that people make mistakes. Our role is simply to rescue those that need help and to spread the word on mountain safety so that others can avoid being in the same predicament! '
With 184 incidents in 2014, Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team is the busiest in the UK.