Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021


NOVEMBER: THE THREE-DAY SEARCH FOR BETSY ENDS WITH RELIEVED SMILES ALL ROUND Betsy, a small pointer cross, slipped her harness around midday on Saturday 14 November and ran from her owners on the summit plateau of Cader Idris, midway between Pen y Gader and Mynydd Moel peaks. Her worried owners searched extensively for Betsy but could find no trace, and reluctantly left the mountain without her.

Top: Team members with Betsy © Aberdyfi MRT.

A significant number of friends, family and well-wishers headed back up the mountain on Sunday, in some fairly challenging weather conditions, to continue the search, but to no avail. Late on Monday afternoon, a searcher reported hearing what he thought was a dog whimpering in an area of steep craggy ground to the north east of Llyn Cau. This was an area he thought he might have heard a dog barking on Sunday, and had returned the following day to investigate. With a specific target to explore, the owners requested mountain rescue assistance. Finding Betsy #1 Monday 16 November: A call-handler from Aberdyfi team spoke directly to the informant and, from his description, an area of interest was highlighted in the crags south of the summit ridge. With night rapidly falling, and rain falling even faster, a party of three team members headed up the Minffordd path to see if they could confirm the reported noise but, as suspected the weather was too bad to see or hear anything. As rescuers arrived in Cwm Cau they spotted the owners’

torches high on the crag in the dark, trying to investigate this new information. Waiting until the anxious searchers returned down, there was a discussion about Betsy, the area where she was lost and the places searched over the last few days. They were desperate to find her, and it was apparent they’d been drifting into some hazardous ground in their quest. It was their stated intention to resume the search at first light the following day, and team coordinators felt that a mountain rescue presence on the hill might provide alternative options to them putting themselves at risk should the dog be spotted. Finding Betsy #2 Tuesday 17 November: A party of twelve team members had made themselves available to take part in the search for Betsy at 8.30am. One party, consisting of several of the team’s technical rope rescue technicians set out to approach the area of interest from above, while a second party headed into Cwm Cau to scan the crags with binoculars, and then to approach the area from underneath. In the

event, the very poor weather meant that visibility was too poor to view the crags from the other side of the valley, so the second hill party made their way to the foot of the crag. As they approached the valley floor, a dog was heard howling on the wind, and attempts were made to quantify current position and compass bearing to the origin of the noise. As calculations were underway to get an approximate position for the source of the noise, news came through that one of the owners had located the dog on a rocky buttress in the identified area, but was unable to reach her. Team members were able to move quickly into position and rigged a simple rope system to access Betsy who was cold and hungry but otherwise in surprisingly good condition given her three nights out in some appalling weather. While this was happening others rigged handlines down the steep rocky slope to provide a quick and safe exit route. Betsy was quickly reunited with her owners, and everyone made their way safely back down to the car park. Everyone was safely off the mountain by 1.00pm.

DECEMBER: FRENCH RESCUE HELICOPTER CRASHES IN ALPS The aircraft, owned by a private company, was carrying out a rescue when it went down near the town of Bonvillard in the Savoie area. The cause of the crash was unclear, but officials said it could have been due to poor weather.

The alarm was raised by the pilot who managed to escape the helicopter and was found seriously injured. The Eurocopter EC135 belonged to Service Aérien Français, a private company that conducts search and rescue missions and other air services across France. It was carrying an air rescue crew on a training mission when it fell from an altitude of 1,800 metres (5,900ft). French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to offer ‘support from the nation to the families, friends and colleagues of these French heroes’. The crew consisted of two pilots – one in training – two winch operators and two mountain rescue workers. Three helicopters, sent as part of a rescue team of over 40 people, were unable to reach the site due to fog and the pilot was recovered by rescuers who approached on foot.



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