Originally published in the Daily Post
THE number of people being rescued off North Wales peaks is on the rise.
According to data published by the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team going back to 1961, the region has seen a steep increase in walkers requiring help.
The figures show that in 2008 the team received 76 callouts. By 2009, that had shot up to 133. In 2010, the number climbed again to 143, placing severe pressure on the team’s resources.
Team member Chris Lloyd said: “It’s because more people are enjoying the hills of North Wales. Places like the Lake District have not seen such an increase.”
That number has also seen a rise in people classed as uninjured – they could be lost and needing assistance or just too exhausted and unable carry on.
Mr Lloyd said he doesn’t think the rise of mobile phone usage was responsible for the surge.
He warned: “It may be linked to people on the mountains with less experience. Their first resort is to call 999.
“It is causing problems for us. We are all volunteers, and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
He added: “Mountain walkers should go back to the point they last knew, and work from there. They then know the path is a dead end, so take another.”
“We had a call last year from two women who were high up on the mountains.
“It was late on a Saturday evening, about 10pm. They said they were tired and could we come and get them. We do make personal sacrifices for this.
“We’re not saying don’t call us. Planning ahead is key.”
The advice is to have a GPS, torch for each person, a mobile phone and spare food and drink.
Chris added: “Take spare batteries for everything. Some people have a torch with the same batteries for six years, then when they go to use it, they’re flat.”
“For food, always take something extra. High carbs are good. We find mountain climbers like jelly babies to help them get the last hike to the top done.”
The money needed to run the vital service for a year is gathered mainly through donations and fundraising. Chris explained: “It costs around £65,000 to run the team for a year.
“We get £13,000 split between 12 mountain rescue teams from the Welsh Assembly Government.”
The Ogwen Valley team receives help and support from emergency services.
They have help from North Wales Police for radio communication, and medical consumables are supplied by North Wales Ambulance Trust.