39 in 2004
Wastwater Screes

Whitehaven Police paged the team to respond to an incident at Wastwater lake. A diving group had been concerned over the distressed barking of a dog on the far side of the lake. This continued for over half an hour and was then followed by shouts for help. The cries were coming from high up the gulleys directly opposite Cross walls, the road junction at the mid point of the lake. One of the divers, who was an accomplished swimmer, swam across the lake in his dry suit and proceeded to climb the Screes in an effort to locate the source of this distress. He climbed half way up the Screes before disappearing out of sight behind the gulley sides. The police were already on scene when the team arrived.The advance group set off from the Pump house at the west end of the lake whilst the boat team launched the boat and ferried team members and equipment across the lake. The advance group got to the diver after a grueling 45 minute scramble. No other persons or animals located and it was thought that perhaps the person might have climbed out onto the top and then descended by the walkers paths along the ridge top. As descent was not a safe option, the top group along with the diver, climbed to remaining 300 m to the top and carried on searching the various gulley tops. Nothing was seen or heard.The local farmers were contacted and it was confirmed that one of the farmers had in fact been out on the Screes earlier that day and “there were a lot of barking and shouting”. The incident was stood down at around 1700 hrs as a well intentioned false alarm. The diver was taken back by boat to retrace his steps up the Screes and retrieve his flippers and dry suit which were reasonably well hidden on the Screes ( Tim and Ian did try hard to find them but with no luck). The climb by the diver was a remarkable achievement considering the swim across the lake and the 500m ascent of some extremely steep, slippery and loose mountain side. He was dressed in a thermal, quilted jumpsuit with relatively lightweight rubber diving boots and the temperature that afternoon would be up in the 20’s and the Screes were bathed in sunshine.The team practice that evening was postponed so that team members could catch up on things abandoned for the rescue such as lunch and work.

Incident started at 13:11 and ended at 17:00 making 3.8 hrs in total.