- 21 in 2002
- Callout —
- Unknown Location
Call from the police to rescue a fallen walker on Scafell. The man in his late 50’s had been attempting the 4 x 3000 challenge and rather than take the Lord’s Rake route from Mickledore to the summit of Scafell he joined another two walkers who were ascending via Broad Stand (see accident Black Spot above). He managed to get up the rock step by using a rope that had been placed there for event runners and walkers. He slipped at the top of Mickledore chimney and fell into the gulley and carried on tumble falling 50 metres down the steep gulley, coming to rest just above the chock stone.
He was conscious but had received several injuries to head and lower limbs. Fortunately a group of mountain rescuers from Trough of Bowland and a member of Langdale Ambleside MRT was in the area and made him safe and provided shelter (he was dressed in shorts and trainers). The weather was poor with cloud base at 500 metres and visibility on the crags down to 30 metres. Temperature was 7 degrees centigrade and fortunately the accident site was sheltered from the strengthening winds.
Due to the nature of his injuries, and the time of the call when many team members are difficult to find, an RAF Rescue Helicopter was scrambled from Boulmer in the North East. The helicopter lifted team members as high as it could and returned to Wasdale Head (after refueling at Carlisle), shut down and waited ready to evacuate the casualty.
It was technically a very demanding rescue in an extremely hazardous location with slippery rock and steep slabs. The evacuation route took a number of hours and involved a pendulum’s horizontal stretcher lower followed by vertical stretcher lower over the 10 meter rock wall above Mickledore and down the scree to Hollowstones (around 2 hours lowering using the 200 metre rope). RAF Stafford mountain Rescue Team provided strong support throughout the lower.
Finally the helicopter came in to land on the shoulder of Brown Tongue so the casualty could be airlifted quickly to West Cumberland Hospital. This in itself was a remarkable bit of flying by the helicopter pilot as he slowly worked his way up the fell (through the cloud) at a height of 6 metres to a suitable pick up point. The team were off the hill and back at base by 1930 hrs and then tidied up. resorted all the crag gear, put the ropes up to dry – all ready for the next rescue which we all hoped would not be for some time. Fortunately we did not have to rescue / search for any of the 200 to 300 ‘three peakers’ who we passed in separate groups of 3 to 20 going up Scafell Pike (many in shorts and trainers with no gear), as we came down from our rescue. Many thanks to the RAF for all their help, also to the Trough lads (we have their kit – give me a call 01946 62176)
[P.S. – the walker I spoke to who took the photo of the helicopter evacuation , kindly offered to send the team a copy of the photos for this report – please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or hard copy 8 Foxhouses Road, Whitehaven, Cumbria CA28 8AF]
Postscript – see following extract from an email sent to the team which gives a little insight into conditions on the tops and it’s impact on the 4 x 3000s……
I was doing the safety sweep from Seathwaite to Steel End (although ended up continuing to Keswick via Helvellyn) for the Ramblers Association event on Saturday. Conditions were pretty bad on the Scafells when we set out from Seathwaite at 9.30 am and quite a few people in the event were unable to locate Lords Rake. When we got to the checkpoint on Scafell it was like a version of the Marie Celeste mystery. There was no event checkpoint (the marshall had been unable to find his way to the summit. Also the marshall for Scafell Pike failed to reach that checkpoint) and the Bowland teams bivvy area contained all their kit including the remains of their breakfast cooking.
We collected all the competitors tags which had been dumped in a heap to pass on to the race organiser. Then we bundled up the kit and weighted it down with more stones. After that we waited for half and hour to see if we had passed any stragglers on the way up, and not seen them in the mist. We had earlier heard the helicopter trying to get in. Four of your team members came by, one of whom was panting pretty impressively, and one who invited us to your evening fund raising party at the Screes. (Sorry we couldn’t make it!) Glad to hear you were able to safely evacuate the casualty after what seems like an epic.
Out of 170ish starters for the event about 50 finished. The last 4 coming into Keswick School about 11.30 pm, after setting out at 2 am.
Incident started at 11:00.