My First Mountain Rescue  

 For those readers who have no knowledge of mountain rescue, it’s purpose or indeed the location of where this true story took place, I have included a little background information to help. 

The Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team is one of 13 voluntary rescue teams covering the mountain ranges located in the north west of England.  This very popular tourist area is called the Lake District and attracts walkers and climbers from across the world.  As with all outdoor activities, danger lurks around every corner and it is therefore wise to be well prepared before venturing out onto the mountains.  Even so, accidents can happen to anyone of us as explained in the following story.

                                                    Richard Warren - Team Secretary, 20 March 2000    


This is a true account of one of our probationary team member’s first call-outs with the team on what proved to be a very busy day during late spring, 1997……………….  At 4.30 am on a wet Sunday morning in May 1997 I was asleep in my ground floor flat in Eskdale Green when a knock on my window woke me up. There was a major rescue in progress on Scafell Pike, I was asked if I could attend having just been accepted as a fell going member of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team.


The previous evening I had had a phone call informing me that I was now on the full call out list, but I had not as yet received my pager.  I packed my rucksack as quick as I could and drove off to Millforge where Julian Carradice, who was manning the base, told me that whisky bravo had just left. A quick radio call was made to bravo and I ran and caught them up.  As this my was first official rescue Nick West informed me that I had been volunteered to carry the 200 metres of backing rope up to Scafell.


The information that we had about the incident was that a group six teenagers were in difficulty whilst doing the three peaks challenge, a common occurrence in the spring of 1997.


As we left Brackenclose at 5.15 am it was getting light Paul McCracken and myself took terms in carrying the 200 metres of rope up towards Lingmell Col and then on to Scafell Pike.  We descended towards Mickledore and then found the casualty site. Three of the casualties were able to walk down but the others were suffering from hypothermia had to be carried.  Due to the large numbers of people involved the decision was taken to ask the Millom rescue team for extra support. I spent 2-3 hrs in the survival tent with two casualties and two members of the team. Martin Willey appeared and offered cheese sandwiches contaminated with engine oil and cold coffee. No body was interested.


When more team members arrived the three casualties were stretchered off down to Brackenclose.

It was now 11 am Howard Christie very kindly invited everyone back to the Wasdale Head hotel for breakfast. We later drove back to Millforge and just as everyone was prepared to stand down. I was due to be working that day taking a group from Outward Bound Eskdale on the climbers traverse path on Napes to thread the needle I felt that I could not let the group down so I phoned in saying I would be back shortly but then…


Bill Pattison received a call that there was another incident a suspected heart attack on Slight Side. The advance party took off immediately to Brackenclose we arrived soon afterwards in Whiskey Bravo with the back up group, caring the 200 metres of backing rope (again) stretcher etc. By this time the weather was foul and the journey up via Green How to Slight Side was exhausting considering how long most of us had been on the hill.


We could hear on the radio that a helicopter was requested for assistance on the scene. Shortly afterwards we heard the helicopter but due to very poor visibility and strong winds it could not locate the casualty site. When I was walking up the shoulder of Scafell we could hear and smell the burnt fumes of the helicopter. We then heard on the radio "foxtrot" the casualty was dead. There was no longer the need to hurry up the hill so we walked as quickly as we could, regrouping on the summit of Scafell and then descended towards the casualty site. All we where required to do was sledge the casualty off the hill.

Bill Pattison turned to me and said,  "its not always as bad as this Andy, sometimes it is worse"


Written by one of our team members, Andrew Chapman for the 1999/2000 edition of our yearbook, published March 1999.


[If you would like to learn more about British Mountain Rescue or make a small donation to the team (we are a legally registered UK charity) then please contact me – see details below.  Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a copy of our 1999/2000 Yearbook at a cost of £3.00 (includes postage and packing).  This 78-page paperback includes many more stories, details of the Team’s activities and a complete listing of all our rescues over a two-year period. For more information call me, Richard Warren, Secretary Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team on Tel. +44 (0) 1946 62176 or by E Mail:]