For several years the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, has been the busiest single mountain rescue team in the UK. Usually having around 100 rescues a year. However this year it is still June and the team has responded to 78 call outs. That is three a week. My friend is a fireman and he doesn’t leave the station that many times a week! So what has gone wrong?
There are various thoughts on what is the cause of the rise in the number of accidents, one is that a deepening recession has lead more and more people to holiday at home. Which whilst fantastic for the local economy, that is totally dependent on tourism, meaning that the area seems to be more recession proof than say London or other banking or manufacturing based economies. So one potential cause is an increase in the absolute number of people walking up Snowdon.
However even if that is the case the figures have been increasing steadily anyway. Many people within the Mountain rescue community attribute this to the use of mobile phones, where many years ago the rescues were often more search based, as people were reported late back, rather than phoning through to the police from the side of a hill to shout “I am a celebrity get me out of here”. As such they get a lot of call outs that are describe as CDD (Welsh for Kick up the Arse), basically people who really needed someone to hold there hand on the way down.
Similarly a lot more people with minor injuries who in the past might have gotten themselves off the hill now phone for what in a Car would be call AA Roadside assistance. However in the mountains you don’t have to pay for insurance cover so instead the rescue teams get called out and hundreds of hours of voluntary service are donated by the member to assist those in trouble.
Some people might blame the weather, however other than this winter when we had a spate of fatalities because the weather had been so cold for so long, meaning that the for the first time in several years we had real winter conditions. Which could arguably have meant that the people heading up Snowdon just really weren’t prepare and ready for the conditions they found.
Whatever the reasons behind the busiest team have just gotten a whole lot busier!