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Hypothermic Walkers on Cader Idris

February 14, 2022

At approximately 3:45 p.m. on Saturday 12th Feb,  call-handlers from Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team were made aware of a group of 4 walkers in difficulty close to the summit of Cader Idris.  

The party, originally part of a larger group, had set out from Minffordd earlier in the day. The poor weather conditions meant that some of the group turned back before reaching the summit. The others pressed-on despite poor visibility, strong winds, heavy rain and hail storms, and whilst traversing the summit plateau one of the party started to succumb to hypothermia and was unable to continue. At this point the group called for assistance

While the call-handlers were making initial investigations and formulating a plan, a team member, out walking for the day, had by chance stumbled into the group which speeded up the process greatly. Phone-find technology was used to pinpoint the location of the group, and the affected walker was reported to be slipping in and out of consciousness.

Immediate action by the lone Aberdyfi Team member, who was not carrying Team equipment but making do with his personal kit, helped protect the deteriorating male from the harsh weather on the summit as the rescue was initiated. The casualty’s three companions also began to deteriorate in the extremely poor conditions and the decision was made to direct the three back to the shelter at the summit where they would be out of the worst of the weather.

Given the time of day, location prevailing conditions and potential complications in managing an unresponsive hypothermic patient, requests for assistance were made to South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team and the H.M. Coastguard helicopter, Rescue936.

Local weather conditions meant that Rescue936 could not reach the casualty site, and instead transported a small hasty party part way up the south side of the mountain. A second hasty party backed up by two stretcher parties made their way on-foot up the Pony Path from Ty Nant.

Team members assessed the first casualty, getting him ready for the stretcher party following on shortly behind. Meanwhile, having been given dry warm clothes, food and warm drinks, the party of three were collected from the summit hut and reunited with the first casualty for the journey off the mountain. 

Moving faster than the stretcher, the summit hut-party emerged from the cloud-base first and this group was transported down the rest of the way by Rescue936. The helicopter returned to pick up the stretcher party, now stopped as the casualty was in an increasingly critical condition. Some skilful flying meant that the stretcher could be winched onboard and the casualty was flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd for further assessment and treatment.

All team members were safely accounted for and heading home at 1:00 a.m.

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

Our thanks again to South Sno​wdonia Search and Rescue Team and HM Coastguard Rescue936 and crew from Caernarfon.

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.”