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Lost Walkers on Cader Idris

May 19, 2021

Shortly after 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday 18th May, call-handlers from Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team were made aware of a party of four lost on Cader Idris.

The party, a group of friends from the London area, had started out from Minffordd at around 4:30 p.m. to climb the mountain. Their hope was for a quick evening walk following the paths on the hillside and, using this strategy, they successfully reached the summit via the Minffordd path.

The party then took a recommendation from a passing walker to walk the circuit via Mynydd Moel back to the car-park.  However, being poorly equipped and with no means of navigation they missed the indistinct path on the summit plateau and quickly became lost. Having wandered unsuccessfully for a couple of hours they called for help. By this point the group members were cold, hungry, anxious, and one had twisted his ankle, making progress slow but still possible.

Using the PhoneFind protocol the lost walkers were located via their smartphones and the group was directed towards a fence line on Mynydd Moel which they could follow to descend. A hill party of three Team volunteers headed up the hill with torches and clothing to intercept the party and escort them safely off the hill. A second group of volunteers waited at the foot of the hill as a back-up. Everyone was safely off the hill by 12:30 a.m.

Team Volunteer Graham O’Hanlon attended the rescue. “Not all rescues centre on a single catastrophic event. This was a good example of how a number of small omissions in planning and equipping for a trip into the mountains can easily conspire to produce a serious situation requiring multiple man-hours of Rescue Team time to resolve. In this example, navigation was made worse by not having any resources to fall back on where paths became indistinct.

“Getting lost was made worse by having insufficient clothing, food and water for the unexpected extension of their time on the mountain. Lack of food and water, together with failing light, were likely contributory factors in one of the group injuring his ankle. Slow progress because of injury and failing light means the group gets colder, more fatigued and more prone to serious mishap.

“Using phone-torches means that batteries quickly go flat and communication with Rescue Services is lost…..and so it goes on.

“We would always encourage people to carry a map and compass, extra clothing and food above that they would expect to use on the trip and to check the weather before heading into the hills.”