80 in 2023
East Buttress, Scafell
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Other Agencies
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A late evening call came on Wednesday night when Cumbria Police alerted us to a lone walker who was cragfast. This was initially reported to be on Broad Stand, but on checking the coordinates from the police call, was confirmed to be slightly further South to our ‘normal’ crag job on the East Buttress of Scafell.
Care was taken to understand the exact nature of his predicament as deploying rescue teams immediately in the dark in a crag environment without sleep carries its own risks. On balance, it was decided to deploy as he was on a small ledge with a significant drop beneath, safe in the short term but not to leave for many more hours.
Coastguard helicopter support was requested quickly, as a ‘pick off’ winch by them might have been possible. However cloud had descended in the area and, after several attempts, Rescue 199 from Prestwick returned home for fuel, and the teams made their way up the hill for a rope rescue. Extra support was then requested and given by Duddon and Furness MRT.
Having ascended Scafell, it took some time for the Wasdale team to establish the best and safest access route, from close to the summit. This involved a diagonal lower of the rescuer. This also meant the casualty was less at risk from rockfall from the rescuer and belay party. Rope protection was used to descend to the point where they could establish belay anchors for the lower.
However, at about 3am the clouds lifted sufficiently to attempt another helicopter rescue, and this time Rescue 936 from Caernarfon lifted to support. However, when it arrived, the winch rescue was also assessed to be very risky, so plan A became the rope rescue. The Wasdale team was now in position and a rescuer descended to the cragfast person. The team members below at Mickledore needed to guide the rescuer to the correct location as this was not visible from above. Once on the scene the walker was successfully secured with a harness and attached to the rope for a protected down-climb to safety below. Most of the team members then followed and abseiled down with the excess equipment.
The teams and walker were very grateful for the support from the crew of R936 who gave lifts back down to the valley after a long night. The remaining two (unlucky!) Wasdale team members de-rigged and descended by foot back to the valley, as again the helicopter was low on fuel and had to depart. Hearty breakfasts back at base for all were gratefully received after an ‘all-nighter’ and the vehicles were then restocked for the next callout.
Many thanks to the crew of Rescue 199 and 936 and Duddon and Furness MRT once again. We’re also sorry if local residents were disturbed by the helicopter activity. A tricky job with great teamwork, and an excellent outcome.

Incident started at 23:14 and ended at 08:18 making 9.1 hrs in total. There were 12 Wasdale team members involved and the incident occured at NY209067. Total rescuer hours: 109