Finding Betsy: missing for 3 days on Cader Idris
November 18, 2020
Around midday on Sat 14th November, Betsy, a small pointer cross, slipped her harness and ran from her owners on the summit plateau of Cader Idris, midway between Pen y Gader and Mynydd Moel peaks. The owners searched extensively for Betsy but could find no trace, and reluctantly had to leave the mountain without her. A significant number of friends, family and well-wishers headed back up the mountain on Sunday, in some fairly challenging weather conditions, to continue the search, but to no avail. Late on Monday afternoon, a searcher reported hearing what he thought was a dog wimpering in an area of steep craggy ground to the north east of Llyn Cau. This was an area he thought he might have heard a dog barking on Sunday, and had returned the following day to investigate. With a specific target to explore, the owners requested mountain rescue assistance.
A call-handler from the Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team spoke directly to the informant and from his description, an area of interest was highlighted in the crags south of the summit ridge. With night rapidly falling, and rain falling even faster, a party of 3 Team volunteers headed up the Minffordd path to see if they could confirm the reported noise, but as suspected the weather was too bad to see/hear anything. As rescuers arrived in Cwm Cau they spotted the owners torches high on the crag in the dark, trying to investigate this new information. Waiting until the anxious searchers returned down, there was a discussion about Betsy, the area where she was lost and the places searched over the last few days. They were desperate to find the dog, and it was apparent that they had been drifting into some hazardous ground in their quest to locate her. It was their stated intention to resume the search at first light the following day, and Team co-ordinators felt that a mountain rescue presence on the hill might provide alternative options to them putting themselves at risk should the dog be spotted.
A party of 12 Team volunteers had made themselves available to take part in the search for Betsy at 08:30 on Tuesday 17th Nov. One party, consisting of several of the Team’s technical-rope rescue technicians set out to approach the area of interest from above, while a second party headed into Cwm Cau to scan the crags with binoculars, and then to approach the area from underneath. In the event, the very poor weather meant that visibility was too poor to view the crags from the other side of the valley, so the second hill party made their way to the foot of the crag. As they approached the valley floor a dog was heard howling on the wind, and attempt were made to quantify current position and compass bearing to the origin of the noise. As calculations were underway to get an approximate position for the source of the noise, news came through that one of the owners had located the dog on a rocky buttress in the identified area, but was unable to reach her. Team volunteers were able to move quickly into position and rigged a simple rope system to access the dog, who was cold and hungry but otherwise in surprisingly good condition given her 3 nights out in some appalling weather. While this was happening others rigged hand-lines down the steep rocky slope to provide a quick and safe exit route. Betsy was quickly reunited with her owners, and everyone made their way safely back down to the carpark. Everyone was down off the mountain by 13:00
Team member Graham O’Hanlon attended the search. “The Team has rescued more than 40 dogs over the years, and we try to help where we can, especially where there is a danger that owners may get into difficulty trying to sort things out themselves. Many of the Team have their own dogs and fully empathised with what the owners must have been going through over the last few days; all the volunteers had made themselves available in full knowledge that this was a search for a dog. Such incidents also provide us with excellent training for crag search and rescue.”