Indeed, I have been negligent of late in not updating my blog. I’ve missed callouts, events and various other joys. In my defence I have been very tired and stressed out at work and at home.

However, last night we had a callout which I can’t avoid blogging.

I was sat in the Yard in Cardiff, where a number of my work colleagues were gathered to say goodbye to the PA here at work. Halfway through my pint, the pager goes off. I make my apologies and head out jogging towards the car. It’s already cold, even though it’s only 1830 and my hands are almost numb when I get to the car. I fire her up and give her a minute to warm up while I grab my hi-viz jacket and put my “MOUNTAIN RESCUE ON EMERGENCY CALL” signs up, front and back. With the heater on full and blowing cold air, I jump in and start making my way out of Cardiff. Traffic is light, and I’m almost at Gabalfa before the messages comes through – “999 – immediate response to base”.

I make my way through the traffic and it opens up on the A470. I make good time and as I’m reaching Caerphilly it’s starting to snow. Conditions are considerably worse as I hit Merthyr. I carefully drive down the back lane to base to find the vehicle bay empty and open, with a few semi-naked members rapidly getting kitted up. I jump out. “What have we got?” I’m already stripping off in the garage, with a biting wind swirling around. “2 people benighted in the Neuadd.”

Nightmare scenario. The Neuadd Valley is a particularly well-known area for us. A glacial bowl leads south from Pen y Fan and Corn Du down to a reservoir. From there, a single track leads south to Pontsticill village. There is an old Roman road that’s passable by a vehicle if you know what you’re doing. The whole valley is in shadow from our radio transmitters and from mobile phone transmitters, resulting in a communications black spot for us. Alpha, the control vehicle is already at the lower reservoir with the mast at full extension and maintaining comms with base. The road is treacherous, and I’m asked to drive people up in my Land rover. I quickly empty the car and we’re off again, driving carefully in the snow. When I reach Alpha, there’s 3-4 inches of snow on the road and the wind is howling. We’re all very aware that if we don’t get these two people off the mountain and quickly, they’ll die of hypothermia.

We start our search, some 20 people making their way up the Neuadd Valley. I’m on Gwaun Perfedd, the east side of the valley, and it’s tough going. The tussock-y ground is covered in snow, and between the ground and the snow, I’m frequently sinking up to my knees. It takes us an hour and a half to find the casualties (roughly here) – one male, one female who are signalling to us using the flash on their camera. They’re cold, the two of them, and we get some warm, dry clothes and chocolate out and get them wrapped up in a bothy bag. The easiest route out is to cut across to the old Roman road, just over a kilometre east of us. We head off with the two casualties, and they’re soon warming up and chatting to us all. We keep them talking, both out of interest and also to make sure that they’re not going into hypothermia – one of the classic symptoms of hypothermia is confusion.

A message comes over the radio – apparently the chap’s girlfriend has called police to report him missing. They’ve kindly informed her that he’s currently being rescued by us. He’s a little worried at this point, but I just put it down to being embarrassed about the cock-up they’d made. They thought that they were heading towards Brecon when they stopped moving – but they were going in the opposite direction.

As we walk them off gradually, more information flows back and forth between base, Alpha and the party leader. Towards the bottom of the track, a Land rover is waiting for us, having failed to make it further up the track because of the snow and ice. I look down at our footprints in the snow, wondering what tomorrow’s walkers will think of this herd that tramped through here. The casualties are loaded onto the Land rover and the rest of us walk back to Alpha. It’s been four hours since we set out.

Coffee, tea and hot chocolate is served from the back of Alpha and a group of us head back in my car to base where the police have kindly provided pie and chips for us. And that’s where the full story is revealed…

The guy we rescued was supposed to be at work that day but had taken the day off. The ‘girlfriend’ was actually his fiancé, and she was rather surprised to hear that he’d taken the day off. She was more angry than surprised when the police informed her who he was with apparently. This would be because the woman we rescued with him was his mistress, and they’d been out (with a disposable barbecue no less) celebrating her divorce from her husband. His fiancé was understandably upset. I have to admit, I don’t think I’d like to be him when I got home.

That’s what I call being discovered in style.

2 Responses to “Negligence and stupidity in style”

  1. katchuri says:

    That’s the best finding out I’ve ever heard.

  2. apel says:

    LOL So the moral of the story is to celebrate your divorce in a pub instead. 🙂