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A Sobering Day in Ogwen Valley

Thick stormy skies billow over the Ogwen Valley, Pen Yr Ole Wen and Tryfan, Snowdonia.

Walking in the hills and climbing mountains always carries a certain amount of risk, it can be incredibly rewarding, but being prepared and knowing your limits is the best way to stay safe. With this always on my mind and despite having a wonderful day in the hills on Saturday, I am left with a melancholy feeling, as another mountaineer did not make it home on Saturday.

We started the day as I always do with my mountain workshops; discussing the weather, our own objectives and safety procedures. We decided the best route for the day was to climb Y Garn as the route is clear and easy to follow even if the cloud comes in. Despite this we were very aware of the wind, it was a blustery day and we discussed multiple times whether we were happy to continue.

We reached the peak about 2 1/2 hours after starting and enjoyed a bite to eat whilst sheltering from the wind, we chatted a few times about the other routes in the area and our choice of descent route, in the end, deciding that despite the weather starting to clear we were not 100% confident the Devils Kitchen would be the right way down. After taking a few shots around the ridge, we started to make our way down, it was at this point we saw something you never want to see in the mountains; the Mountain rescue helicopter heading across to the slopes of Y Gribin, a ridge that leads up Glyder Fawr.

Of course, we didn’t know at the time, but we were very saddened to hear that, despite the efforts of the mountain rescue team, and the fact that the casualty was an experienced mountaineer and guide, they, unfortunately, passed away from their injuries. It is a very stark reminder of the dangers of the mountains and one that reminds me of the importance of mountain safety every time you head out.

My thoughts are, of course, with the family of the climber who lost their life over the weekend, and I send my thanks to the brave volunteers from all the mountain rescue teams across the country for keeping us safe when things go wrong. I really do hope you know how important your work is and how valued you are.

It feels strange following the events of Saturday to be sharing photographs, but I feel that if it were me, I’d want others who enjoy the mountains to remember the beauty of these places despite their inherent dangers. And remember, if you are ever in the mountains and unsure whether to continue or head back down, the mountain will be there tomorrow, it’s never wrong to head back or take the easier route when you’re unsure.

If you would like to donate to the mountain rescue team in Ogwen Valley, please click here.

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