[A] member of Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team has been seriously injured after a fall above Haweswater.
Penrith Mountain Rescue Team were called at 15:20hrs yesterday to assist an injured climber in the Blea Water Crag area above Haweswater.
The team were immediately deployed, along with colleagues from Kirkby Stephen MRT. Due to the possible severity of the climber’s injuries, both the Great North and Coastguard Rescue Helicopters were deployed.
The area is very steep and craggy with complex ledges and gullies and is currently in full winter conditions – two very experienced mountaineers were climbing, when one of them fell approximately 8m sustaining multiple injuries. The other climber was able to immediately provide first aid and shelter for him, which undoubtedly was of great benefit.
Unfortunately, due to the conditions, the GNAAS helicopter was unable to get close enough to assist the climber and was forced to return to its base. Whilst team members made their way on foot to the scene, the Coastguard helicopter made repeated attempts to get close to the casualty location but were unable to do so due to the very difficult flying conditions and returned to their base to refuel and be available for possible evacuation at a later point.
Once on scene, the team doctor dealt with the casualty, ensuring he had pain relief and injuries were stabilised whilst team members rigged a series of technical rope systems to lower the casualty to the Blea Water tarn through the crags. Due to the likelihood of a very long carry out Patterdale MRT were also requested to provide assistance in the evacuation.
At 23:45 (some 8 hours after the call) the Coastguard helicopter retuned to the area and was able to affect a winch lift of the stretcher whilst the teams were descending the Blea Water path and the casualty was taken to the Major Trauma Centre at Newcastle, where he was assessed and treated for multiple non life threatening injuries.
Kaz Frith, Penrith MRT Team Leader said: “Our teams executed a very technical rescue in extremely difficult conditions – it was unfortunate that the bad flying conditions for the helicopter crews meant that we were unable to get to, and evacuate, the casualty earlier, but we are always aware that unlike in a TV drama, we can’t solely rely on their help. Our thanks to everyone involved in the rescue and many best wishes to the casualty for a speedy recovery. We would also stress that the incident was not caused by inappropriately skilled or equipped people – these things sometimes happen and we are only glad to assist.”
Mike Blakey, Patterdale MRT Team Leader said: “Firstly, on behalf of the entire team I want to wish our team member a very speedy recovery from his injuries. I’ve already seen the pictures of him up and about in hospital demonstrating his true spirit. I would also like to pass on our thoughts to his family who are keeping us posted by facebook and text messages!
“I would like to formally thank Penrith MRT for leading and coordinating a difficult rescue. Our thanks also go to the Great North Air Ambulance and Coastguard helicopter crew who tried their very best to assist in what were very difficult flying conditions. We are grateful to the Coastguard for flying him to the major trauma centre at Newcastle.
“I would also like to formally ask that people do not criticise these climbers as I have already seen on facebook following the press release issued by our friends at Penrith MRT. These two very experienced mountaineers, who usually give up their time for free as rescue team volunteers, happened to be involved in an accident doing what they love. Rescue teams would not be able to put themselves out to help others if they didn’t enjoy the mountains or keep their personal skills high.”
Dr Dan Leach, from the Penrith BEEP Fund said: “The 37-year-old male sustained major injuries, which were treated on scene.
“Following a 9.5 hour extrication he was air lifted to the RVI in Newcastle for further treatment.”
At one point there were 40 volunteers involved in the evacuation of the casualty – a testament to the excellent inter working of Lake District Mountain Rescue Teams.