Ogwen Valley team members prepare to rescue trapped climbers
Oh wow. What a fantastic three days since this blog on Saturday featured the work of the UK’s volunteer mountain rescue teams.
It has been tweeted, retweeted, appeared on other social media and has generated a wonderful reaction. I just hope it helps the Llanberis team to raise enough extra cash to pay for the essential repairs to their three vehicles. Why does anyone intentionally damage what are three essentially emergency service ambulances/rescue team transporters? Such mindless acts are beyond my level of understanding.
One of the tweets received was from the mountain rescuers. They thanked me for what they described as my ‘kind’ words. Well, ok the blog post was certainly not unkind but ‘kind’, no. The words used were carefully chosen, they were accurate and truthful. Such people are largely unsung heroes who face each challenge with courage and determination.
Of course, although the post only mentioned the two teams who operate nearest to my home, there are so many other teams around the country whose members are as equally dedicated, brave and committed to keeping alive anyone who runs into trouble on their ‘patch’.
Then there are similar volunteers who belong to cave rescue organisations. These people, all experienced and highly trained potholers, descend into the depths of the earth to find and rescue anyone who is having difficulty returning to the surface.
I have only tried exploring a cave system once – and that was as an adult leader with the Scouts while under the care of a professional guide. The cave was not difficult because the Scouts could be as young as 11 but trying to squeeze through narrow gaps while crawling snakelike on my stomach was not a pleasant experience. There may have been no fear showing externally but, oh boy, to get outside again was just heavenly. Never again, that was the private and silent vow made.
• Towards the end of last week, police were concerned over the safety of Stephen Longfellow, an experienced walker who was missing. They had found his car by Tryfan, one of Snowdonia’s most impressive mountains. It is a challenge to reach the summit, something I did years ago, but there are many places of danger on the mountain and in the surrounding area.
Tryfan is slap bang in the middle of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team’s patch and so their members were asked by the police to look for the missing man. Searches were mounted in the midst of other rescue call-outs.
Now, there is a difference between searching for someone who is known to be alive or who has not been Stephen Longfellow lost and maybe injured for long as against someone who has been missing for days. In the latter case, they hope to find and rescue whoever it is but they realise it may be a search and recover operation instead of a rescue.
This time, unfortunately, the Oggie team members had to recover a man’s lifeless body after they found it on Sunday. The body was then taken for formal identification. The team’s Chris Lloyd told the BBC that he believed the man had fallen “quite some distance”.
As you can see, not all search and rescue operations have joyous endings.