22 August 2023


I was just having a nice cup of tea with Charlotte when my phone it up with a one-word message: standby. In capitals. That changed my entire day abruptly!

Charlotte left, and I went to collect my kit. Almost immediately after that first message, another message had followed, which gave a bit more detail. This was a case of an overdue person, and the location was given as well. So this was not another dog rescue! And it was the venue from which we get called out for human rescue most often. Almost immediately afterwards it became clear this was a case of two people.

The thing about the mine that these men had gone into, and hadn’t come out of by the time they had told their contact persons they should be out, is that it is part of a famous through trip. Would we go in from what is generally used as the entrance, or the exit? Or both? So which side would be the one we were expected to gather at?

I pondered the situation a bit, and decided to drive to Capel Curig. Whichever side it would be, that was where I would have to go first! And I could await news there. And as soon as I got there and put the handbrake on, another message pinged into my inbox. We were told to go to the exit. So I gave my ETA and I was off!

When I got there they were already three other team members there. One of them quickly briefed me. The situation was that two blokes had gone in, aiming to do the through trip, but encountered an issue, and had turned back. One of them was stuck at the bottom of a pitch and couldn't come out. And that's why we were here. Except that we were now parked up at the wrong entrance. This information hadn’t been available when we were told where to gather!

Long story short: we could get a ride in a Landrover some part of the way, walked up the hill to the exit, and then walked over the surface to the more western entrance. It was actually quite a beautiful walk! Another contingent had been redirected to the entrance, and would come from there, with the help of Mountain Rescue. They would bring the kit.

Where we started walking when our ride ended

When we got to the scene we found the person who was already out. And we quickly established voice contact with the person who was still in. And we had our riggers already decide how to haul him out, and had members of our medical team assess the casualty from a distance, when the second contingent arrived, and we could start for real. Now we had ropes and anchors and a drill and pulleys and everything you might need!

It wasn't a complicated rig, so in not much time we had him out. And by that time, two vehicles had managed to drive up to the entrance. One was of one of our team members, and another one was associated with the two blokes. So we happily handed them over! Success!

Hauling the casualty out. Pic: NWCRO

We make sure all the people and all the kit were accounted for, and started our way back down again. On the way up our party had split up into groups; a fast avant-garde and the rest. (I managed to be in the avant-garde with the twentysomethings!) But now it was dark and misty, and we decided to stay together. And without issues we got back to where our vehicles were parked.

Everyone was keen to either get home or to some establishment where victualling was provided, so we didn't linger. We will do a debrief later! But at the first glance, this looks like a successful call-out: we got the casualty out in fine shape, there was nothing that obviously went wrong along the way, and we were ready to leave the scene by 11 pm. And that is a lot more comfortable than the last time I was involved in a rescue that involved people: then we were called out of bed at 2 am, and we weren’t ready to drive home again until 7:15 or so. That was in the same venue, by the way! And I had been completely shattered after that. And this time it was past my bedtime when I got home, but I decided to just stick with my original plans for the day after…

ps This is what appeared in the media about it


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