Column: Wintry perils befall visitors to the Dales

The Cave Rescue Organisation in action.

The Cave Rescue Organisation in action.

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Based in Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales, a team of skilled volunteers known as the Cave Rescue Organisation act as an emergency service for walkers, climbers and cavers. Here, team member Peter Maxwell tells of recent dramas.

Our team members are never off duty as recent incidents demonstrate.

A member of the team out for a walk on Ingleborough came across another walker who had fallen and sustained an ankle injury near the summit. He was able to make the casualty comfortable with his own equipment until a helicopter arrived to fly him down to a road ambulance.

Later that day, an ex-team member came a walker with a dislocated knee on Pen-y-ghent and assisted the casualty and his party until a CRO Land Rover could reach them.

An injured Three Peaks walker needed to be rescued on Pen-y-ghent early one morning in a blizzard. Our waterproof sleeping bag and specialist rescue stretcher with skids on meant that, having given pain relief and splinted her injured leg, we could move the lady quickly to our waiting vehicle.

The river Doe - which with the Twiss makes Ingleton’s famous Waterfalls Trail - was the scene of a remarkable survival story recently. 999 operators were inundated with calls about a walker who was being swept down the icy river, over waterfalls and through gorges. Having travelled about 1km downstream, he was eventually pulled onto the bank by a passer-by. Our team was quickly on the scene and carried the man to a waiting helicopter. He was fortunate to come through his ordeal alive.

In January, three of our team took part in the 108-mile Spine Challenger ultra-marathon to raise funds. The route follows the Pennine Way from Edale to Hawes.

Tackling blizzards, low cloud, freezing temperatures and high wind, Graham Hughes and Heather Eastwood travelled nearly 50 miles, night and day, before being forced to retire. Andy Jackson made it to the finish and, travelling non-stop, arrived in Hawes to claim second place overall in a time of 34 hours 41 minutes.

The Pennine Bridleway crosses our area and its challenging riding and stunning views attract mountain bikers. Occasionally, accidents occur and a fall took us to the aid of a rider. She was treated for a fractured collar bone before being taken off the hill in a team Land Rover.

Wintery conditions on Pen-y-ghent produced an unexpected house guest for team member Andy Plimmer. A couple out for a walk with their dog found themselves benighted on steep, icy ground in the bitter cold near the summit and, having slipped, they called for help.

Our team members guided them to a spot which could be reached by helicopter and they were flown to hospital while their golden retriever was escorted to a team vehicle. The couple couldn’t return for the dog until the next day so she spent a comfortable night at Andy’s house before being reunited with her owners.

Our trainee search dogs have come through major tests recently. Andy Colau’s Kez, who began basic training last year, was approved to enter the formal search dog training programme, while Bill Batson’s Angus took on the three-day final assessment in Lakeland winter conditions which is designed to test every aspect of the dog’s suitability to join the list of search and rescue dogs available to respond to emergencies. Angus passed with flying colours and will now join Bill’s other search dog, Glen, on the call-out list.

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