Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team say they are under growing pressure, as August 2016 smashed their previous record for monthly call-outs. They blame this squarely on an 'unsustainable' increase in ill-prepared people on the hills. As a result the team are calling on more support from local and national bodies to promote mountain safety in an effort to reduce avoidable incidents.
With Britain’s most popular mountain on their patch the team is the hardest-pressed in the country, attending around 180 call-outs a year. But it seems to be getting steadily worse, with the announcement that this August was their busiest month on record. The total of 43 call-outs beats their previous record of 34 in a month, which was set only last August.
Over the month the team calculate they spent approximately 1000 volunteer man-hours attending incidents in their area, including one where an RAF helicopter crash-landed on the summit of Yr Aran (see UKH news here). Most of the incidents, however, involved minor injuries suffered by walkers on the slopes of Snowdon, as team chairman Rob Johnson explains:
“We’ve attended a variety of incidents this summer but the most common have been lower leg injuries, people too tired to continue and people crag fast on Crib Goch."
"It has been a massive commitment from a small group of volunteers, each trying to hold down a full time job and of course have a life of their own over the summer months. 43 incidents in 31 days is not sustainable and serious consideration needs to be given to the future management of Snowdon and its visitors. Many of the incidents that we have attended over August were preventable with the right knowledge and equipment and this message needs to be put across at a national level."
The team point to Visit Wales’ recent Year of Adventure campaign, which has seen mountain adventures sold to visitors who are being encouraged to “Find their Epic” (see UKH news).
Unfortunately, they claim, an increasing number of these visitors are unprepared in terms of both knowledge and equipment and this is leading to more and more people requiring assistance on the mountain - a continuing trend which they say is proving unsustainable for a small team of volunteers whose funding depends on charitable donations.
Over the years the team has worked closely with regional and national organisations to try to reduce the number of incidents on Snowdon. However, pressure on the UK’s busiest mountain rescue team has increased significantly over the last 10 years with a 400% increase in the number of incidents reported.
To stem the flow it is imperative, say the team, that all agencies involved in the management and promotion of mountain tourism work together to promote mountain safety with the dual aim of targeting people before they arrive in Snowdonia and providing advice on the mountain itself through the national park warden service.
Phil Benbow Chairman of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, added:
“All of the Mountain Rescue teams in North Wales have had a busy summer, none more so than the Llanberis team, and I would fully support the Llanberis team in their call for better awareness of mountain safety in reducing the number of avoidable callouts for rescue teams. A bigger effort is needed nationally to educate and inform visitors of the simple steps that they can take to make their adventures memorable for all the right reasons and not rely on rescue teams to plug the gap in their lack of preparation.”