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Snow causes havoc in 13-hour rescues; Eight climbers rescued as winter takes a hold.

Byline: ALEX HICKEY

A MOUNTAIN rescue team spent more than 13 hours going to the aid of walkers and climbers after many were caught out by the early winter snow.

The Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team and RAF Valley's 22 Squadron had one of their busiest days of the year on Saturday rescuing eight people from Tryfan and surrounding peaks.

At times they had to battle through squally winds, wintry showers, snow and even lightning strikes to help the eight off the Snowdonia peaks, including one woman who suffered a broken ankle.

The first call out took place just after midday on Saturday but the last of the mountain volunteers didn't make it back to base until 1am on Sunday.

Ogwen Valley team leader Chris Lloyd said the most "spectacular" rescue of the day was the final one when an RAF Sea King helicopter somehow managed to winch four Liverpool University students off the snow covered east face of Tryfan despite strong winds.

Mr Lloyd said: "The RAF did some spectacular flying in the snow to hold their hover off the east face of Tryfan to winch off four climbers."

The climbers, all male students in their 20s from Liverpool, set off up Tryfan late on Saturday afternoon.

"They were all well-equipped but got into difficulties on their descent, exacerbated Chris by the fresh snow on the mountain. They called the base at about 5pm for advice and it was suggested that they should try to abseil down which they did but the lost their confidence.

"We advised them to stay were they were and two of our team set off in failing light, squally showers and snow to help them."

The RAF helicopter was at that point taking another casualty to hospital.

Lloyd But around 9.30pm the RAF team came to help with the rescue, but because of the poor weather, including snow showers and lightning the crew decided to go back to their base on Anglesey to refuel, "much to the disappointment" of the students, Mr Lloyd added But in less than an hour they came back to resume their rescue, winching the students to safety in dramatic circumstances.

"The flying really was spectacular but because of the weather, they (the RAF) couldn't come back to winch off our two volunteers who have to make their own way back to base. They arrived back just after 1am," he added.

The Ogwen Valley team took part in another three rescues; helping a woman with back pain off Cwm Bochlwyd; two men from Essex off Devil's Kitchen after they lost their path and another Liverpool student who broke her ankle on a descent of Carnedd y Ffiliast.

alexhickey@dailypost.co.uk

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2012
Words:456
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