In the news

Injured Climber on Bird Rock

August 30, 2022

Shortly after midday on Saturday 27th August, call-handlers from Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team were made aware of a climber injured in a fall on Bird Rock, near Tywyn.

The male climber, in his 20’s, fell whilst lead-climbing from a ledge on Craig yr Aderyn, or Bird Rock. He fell past his partner, a woman in her 20’s, for the length of the rope in play, but she managed to hold the fall from her belay position. The man sustained multiple cuts to his body during the tumble down steep ground, and also a significant head injury which resulted in a brief loss of consciousness. Although bleeding heavily, the pair worked together to return the man to the ledge. With the very weakest of phone signals, the woman managed to raise the alarm, although her message was cut off before full details could be passed on to the police call-handler.

An ex-mountain rescue team member, camping at a site nearby, heard their shouts for help and also managed to pass on brief details over a very poor line to the police.

Given the potentially serious nature of the incident, a request was immediately placed for helicopter assistance, and with the Bank Holiday meaning that many Team volunteers were elsewhere, we requested support from our neighbours at South Snowdonia Search & Rescue Team.

Coast Guard helicopter Rescue936 was quickly on scene, but with the climbers unsecured on a ledge there was concern that, if they attempted to winch the casualty, the aircraft’s powerful downwash could easily blow them off the crag.

Making use of the aircraft to upload equipment and Team personnel to the top of the face, our rope-rescue technicians set about rigging a system to raise the pair to the crag-top. This was a difficult process, with a couple of factors slowing efforts to reach the casualty. Firstly there was little in the way of natural anchors to secure the system, and it was difficult to find soil deep enough to make use of our steel anchor pins. Secondly, the position of the casualties could not be seen from the top of the crag, so the positioning was being directed by spotters some distance away at the foot of the crag. 

On the first attempt at lowering, the rescuer got within shouting distance, but could not reach the pair. However, this foray onto the face helped the rope-technicians re-rig  in the optimal position, and the pair were reached on the second attempt. 

Having further assessed the injured man whilst on the ledge, he was assisted up the face using a hauling system. The rescuer then returned down the crag to collect the woman. After further assessment at the crag-top, the pair were assisted to the nearby helicopter, and were down-lifted, along with Team volunteers and equipment.

The injured man was then flown to hospital for further assessment of his injuries.
Team spokesperson Graham O’Hanlon said “The man’s climbing partner did a remarkable job, first in holding his fall from a precarious belay position, but then also assisting the man back to a safer position, raising the alarm and stabilising his injuries.”

Everyone was safely off the hill by 6:40 p.m.

Assisting the injured man from the crag top
The rope system in operation