A hiking party of seven students from Manchester Metropolitan University had to be rescued from the Cambrian Mountains, after their trip fell into difficulty due to becoming separated.
After covering a distance of 9.3 miles, two of the students became too tired to continue and had to be rescued. Then four others strayed 10 miles as their group leader went to find help.
The whole search lasted 9 hours, and involved around 50 mountain rescuers.
Dave Coombs, incident manager at Brecon Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), said, ‘the weather conditions were atrocious, with gales, sleet and driving rain and too severe for search and rescue helicopters to assist.
“The first two casualties were located using a mobile phone app. One of the two casualties was suffering from hypothermia and needed to be carried by stretcher to waiting vehicles.
“She was treated by the Brecon MRT doctor who said that if she had been on the hillside for another hour, the outcome may have been different. The other casualty was cold but able to walk off with assistance.”
As the first two were rescued, the team leader of the party was found by rescuers in a forest 6km away. Four of the students remained unaccounted for. Graham O’Hanlon, of the Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team, explained what happened next.
“Other search parties started sweeping this area while the stretcher party was busy with the evacuations. The poor weather conditions meant that helicopter assistance was not available.
“We only had sketchy information on their location and the phone signal in the area was poor, making contact with them virtually impossible. Also they had no torches, whistles or map and compass and were unfamiliar with the terrain.”
“The missing women, two from Spain, and one from Germany and Canada were found at 1:30am by an Aberdyfi search party. They were cold but otherwise in good spirits. They were given warm clothes, walked off the mountain and then reunited with the rest of their group by 3am.
“This is another reminder that people should make sure they are properly equipped and skilled before heading for the mountains.
“If the vagaries of phone coverage had meant SARLOC could not be deployed, then we would have started our search in completely the wrong place, and it is unlikely we would have reached the casualties before the effects of poor weather overtook them,”
Although the expedition was not an official MMU outing, The Mancunion managed to obtain a comment from the university
A spokesman for Manchester Metropolitan University said, “We would like to thank the mountain rescue teams for all of their hard work and efforts in locating the students and bringing them back safely on Saturday evening. We’re pleased they are safe and well
“We have been in contact with the mountain rescue teams to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all that they did.”