It started off as a nice day today. Last night Lynfa, one of the girls from the team had come down and we went out to the local for a few drinks and a game of pool. I didn’t get up until about 1100 and we spent the day having a laugh and pottering around the house. Wales lost to the All Blacks, which was not entirely unsurprising since (IIRC) we haven’t won against them for over 50 years. During the day the weather deteriorated quite badly until this evening it was pouring with rain and blowing a gale.

Being November the 5th, I’d arranged to go over to Rich’s tonight to see his fireworks and generally get together and meet everyone. So I drove Lynfa up to Merthyr and was just going to drop her off before heading off to Rich’s. The drive over the mountain was interesting, with large amounts of surface water causing problems, high winds and poor visibility weren’t helping much either. We’d just got off the A470 and started heading into town when


Bugger. I swung the car around and headed up the dual carriageway to base. We were the first to arrive and I jumped out and stripped off behind the car, changing into my gear. If I didn’t know it already, I can bloody well say that it was damn cold at this point. We got everything moving and pretty soon people were getting ready to leave. The first response Landrover left, but since I’d been asked to wait until Alpha left, I hung on and got my kit ready. Alpha was soon under way, sirens and lights going as we sped down the heads of the valleys road. I was sat in the back, pretty much just watching the scenery, though I did have a chance to call Nath as we’d been discussing fireworks by text. Talking on the phone, however, is not easy with a two-tone air horn and sirens blaring not ten feet away. TomTom was fantastic, and I was very glad I’d brought it, since during our run the RV changed and with only a grid reference to work from, we’d have taken some time to work it out. With OS GPS Converter taking the grid references and converting it to a TomTom waypoint, we were laughing.

We soon arrived at the RV to find ourselves on the mountain above the Dan Yr Ogof showcaves. Scant and confused information came in and somewhere above us in the murky night flew Rescue 169, our friends from Chivenor again. Hopefully they had the FLIR running….and indeed soon enough came some information on the location of the casualty. 4 people, one unconscious on the hill, some 5km from control. Our party grabbed medical equipment and started the long trek in the driving rain up to the casualties. Within a very short time we were told to hold our position and with several radios we were able to monitor the goings on further up the mountain. The news came through – 169 had picked them up and we could head back to control. We were thoroughly soaked by this point and were glad not to have to walk the 5km through boggy, soaking ground in quite a rough area.

Back at the RV, what looked like some 30 people were gathering in the rain drinking tea and trying desperately to stay warm. Not long to wait and two casualties arrived and were duly brought warm cups of team – Rescue169 had taken the other two back to Chivenor with them – a godsend on a night like this, we were really glad not to have had to carry them off. The lads of Rescue 169 did a fantastic job in such atrocious weather. Several comments were made on the weather, with everyone enjoying the challenges. It’s truly this kind of weather, dark, cold with driving, torrential rain and high winds, the kind of weather that soaks you to the skin in under 30 mins of being out in it – it’s this kind of weather that reminds you of why we do this. Not one of us would have rather been anywhere else tonight, and I’m certain that those 4 people were glad we were there. I certainly wouldn’t have like to spend the night out in that weather, and it’s possible with the temperatures that they may not have survived a night on the hill.

The debrief brought a little more information in that they’d originally been part of a larger party that was split. There was little more to find out and besides, everybody was tired, cold and drenched, so we hurriedly packed up and headed back in a quiet vehicle, everybody contemplating their own private heaven – mine was a hot bath and a cup of Horlicks when I got home.

So much for Guy Fawkes’ night this year. Maybe next year.

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