This was a united effort involving 4 Mountain Rescue Teams, Coniston, Duddon & Furness, Langdale & Ambleside and Kendal as well as a RAF Helicopter.
The Team was initially called out to the aid of two females suffering from suspected hypothermia. They were in a party of 5 walkers who were trying to make their way off the Coniston Old Man ridge via Levers Hawse, above Levers Water. Conditions were very bad following Friday’s and Saturday’s heavy snow, resulting in deep snow and high drifts, and an approximate wind speed of 35mph. This together with the wind chill factor would have meant that the air temperature could have been as low as -15 degrees C. Although chains were put on our landrovers, they struggled to get as far as usual up Coppermines Valley.
As the call out progressed a third casualty was then identified together with two other people just before the northern end of Levers Water on the West side of the lake. Since there could now be a possibility of having to stretcher two casualties and hopefully walk the third out, a second request for attendance was therefore initiated. Once it was identified that conditions were extremely difficult especially due to the high snow drifts, Duddon & Furness Mountain Rescue Team were also called to assist. The lead team reported that one of the initial casualties was seriously hypothermic. The decision was made to call for the RAF Helicopter which could evacuate the ladies much quicker and safer. We also requested the assistance of Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team, together with the Autopulse portable CPR device. Thankfully it wasn’t required and all three were airlifted to hospital by RAF Boulmer. Had the RAF been unable to winch the casualties to safety, carrying 3 stretchers in up to waist deep snow would have required a lot of man power and determination. Eventually we had 22 members of Coniston Team and personnel from 3 other teams (including Kendal Mountain rescue Team) all deployed in one way or another.
Seven members of the original walking party of 15,who did not require medical assistance, were given a lift back down to the base where they were able to get warm through drinks and food. The teams made their way off the fell and back to the base. Hot drinks and choccie were supplied, although I think most people were looking forward more to descending on the pub.
This was a strenuous call out which could have had even more serious consequences. So if you are thinking of going up in the fells at the moment, please be aware that it can be treacherous in places and perhaps re-consider your walk if necessary.
The incident took 5 ¼ hours but I am pleased to say that at the time of writing all the ladies were doing well.