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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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13-hour Cumbria rescue mission on exposed crag

Three fell walkers who became stranded after nightfall on a Lake District crag in bad weather owe their lives to mountain rescuers.

The walkers, all in their 20s, had lost their way in low mist and driving rain as they walked on Lingmell Crags in Wasdale.

They had to spend the night huddled on an exposed ledge.

The walkers’ 999 call triggered a challenging 13-hour rescue operation involving two mountain rescue teams, who used ropes to lift the men – whose escape route was blocked by a series of steep drops – 360ft to the top of the crag and safety.

The men used a mobile phone to raise the alarm just after midnight on Sunday, prompting a turn-out by the Wasdale and the Duddon and Furness mountain rescue teams.

The walkers had set off up Lingmell Crag at 7.30pm, and were well-equipped with maps, compasses and torches.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Wasdale rescue team, said: “They became disorientated while ascending the craggy area in the low cloud, and found themselves on extremely steep and dangerous ground. They were located in a very exposed location, high on the Lingmell Crags near Straight Gill,”

Mr Warren continued. “Two team members undertook a serious climb to get to their location and make them safe, while more members were called to assist.

“Due to the conditions, the precariousness of their stance, it was decided to wait until first light before evacuating them up the crag.”

The rescuers used a technical haul system, involving 400m of rope, from the summit of Lingmell, lowering a team member 360ft to the stranded walkers before lifting each in turn.

The incident was not closed until 1.30pm yesterday, some 18 hours after the men had first set off.

Mike Gullen, 27, team leader for the rescue, said: “There was low cloud, wind, and strong rain. It was a shocking place to be stranded. They certainly needed to be rescued.

“They would not have got off that crag without help. They are lucky to be alive.

“They were very thankful and appreciative, though it’s important to say they did have the right gear. But if you get into difficulty you have to stay in control of your situation.”

The rescue involved eleven from the Wasdale team, eight from the Duddon and Furness team and two search dogs. It was the fifth call-out of the weekend for the Wasdale team.

eparsons@cngroup.co.uk

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