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Equipment warning follows mountain rescue

Posted 21 January 2013
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Equipment warning follows mountain rescue
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The end of last week brought a severe weather warning for south Wales, with plenty of snow forecast.

With many roads being bad enough, some might have thought twice about considering an outing to the hills at all.

Instead, not only did some decide to brave the wintry conditions in the Brecon Beacons, but they did so without being fully equipped.

The results were bad and could have been far worse. Brecon Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) was called out twice to rescue injured walkers on Corn Du, the table-topped summit just along the ridge from Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in southern Britain at 2,907 ft.

Corn Du itself is 2,864 ft above sea level and on Saturday (January 19th) the team joined two others in helping rescue an injured 34-year-old woman. The following day, they were out on the mountainside again to assist a 28-year-old man who had slipped and broken two bones in his lower leg.

Of course, accidents can happen in any weather and even occur when people are well equipped. However, Mark Jones, the deputy team leader at Brecon MRT, noted that people are often guilty of heading up to the hills while badly equipped for winter conditions.

He said: "We would call on anyone heading out into the mountains during this cold snap to be properly equipped with crampons, ice-axe or walking poles, warm weather gear, map, compass and torch. If you are unused to high-level walking it may be better to stick to the lower slopes."

It is not just the right footwear and Ordnance Survey maps people may benefit from either, but also thermal clothing, as Mr Jones noted that carrying extra clothes can be very handy if an accident does occur, since anyone lying injured on the slopes awaiting rescue may suffer hypothermia without the benefit of extra layers to keep them warm.

Mr Jones's view that those who are inexperienced on high ground should stay off the hills in winter was echoed by Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team deputy team leader Steve Owers.

He was quoted by the Northern Echo as suggesting those walking in the Yorkshire Dales who tend to stick to the valleys should not "suddenly think about going up into the high Pennines or Yorkshire Dales because it looks nice".