Given the weather over the last few days[1], you’d expect to see walkers on the Beacons with waterproofs, hot flasks, etc.

So why were we called last night to a pair without waterproofs?

The pager went off at 1848 – just as Mal and I were getting ready to head off to fix his car (he replaced the head gasket on the weekend, but broke something). We jumped in mine and headed up the A470, getting details as we went. Two walkers reported lost somewhere around Pen Y Fan – this one went out as an Area Search. They were reported to be lost, cold and without waterproofs. Drizzle fell making the cold night even more frigid as we headed up past base and into the Neuadd Valley.

As we arrived, we heard over the radio several teams busy looking for them. We didn’t manage to get on the hill – as we were getting ready, one of the search parties found them in the saddle near to Pen Y Fan. Both were taken off the hill, though one was ill enough to be stretchered I believe.

Saturday’s incident was similar in nature – two people out for a walk, and one had become cold and stopped, refusing to move. Sounds bizarre until you realise that one of the symptoms of hypothermia is a change in consciousness and personality – normall quiet people can be irrational and belligerent. In weather that prompted some team members to start pulling out winter crampons, the casualty was found almost unconscious.

Mumsey teases us about the mountains in Canada being bigger and colder and more dangerous – and without a shadow of a doubt. The highest peak in the Beacons is about 680m, and there is a main road that runs within about 45 minutes brisk walk of the peak. We don’t see glaciers, snow and ice the way they do. But I think that perhaps is one of the greatest problems with the Beacons. They’re so friendly and gentle that people forget that no matter where you are, hypothermia is a killer. I have no doubt that both of these callouts would have resulted in deaths had we not been at hand to bring these people off the mountain.

In other news, the recent callout in Bridgend has resulted in a very nice letter from the wife who was quoted in the press as saying “I wish I could give them £50,000”. What she did give though was a £100 donation to the team and a letter expressing her gratitude and thanks. It’s up on the board for all team members to read and Mal and I both agree – that’s what really makes this job worth it.

[1] It’s been wet. And cold. Very cold. And lots of patchy rain. And cold.

2 Responses to “The need for waterproof clothing in November”

  1. Bronchitikat says:

    “So why were we called last night to a pair without waterproofs?”

    Errr . . . Cos their eejits, who don’t realise that those ‘cuddly little’ Beacons can kill you just as effectively as the Rockies?

    But mainly cos their eejits. Heck, I take waterproofs (top at least) with me when I’m out in Portsmouth. I wouldn’t get hypothermia on a 10-15 min cycle ride, but I don’t appreciate getting soaked either!

  2. Elaine says:

    It’s -20°C where I’m at right now, with precipitation in ‘flake’ form forecast overnight and most of tomorrow. And I’m not even in the mountains.

    However: The snow on the tops of the Rockies was spectacular when viewed whilst flying over them this afternoon. (*The broom will need an overhaul soon though.)

    PS: I do have my snow boots and my gloves and my insulated full length leather jacket with a fox lined hood plus my hat* And I shall still, no doubt, be cold.

    But it’s a dry cold, you know?

    *The hat is black, but not pointed.