Alan’s Diary – Callout 10.1.10
After the craziest week I have ever seen in Mountain Rescue, the jobs were still coming thick and fast. So far this week the team had been out to 30 jobs, to drag Ambulances out of snow drifts, recover patients the Ambulance service couldn’t get to and ferry a constant stream of injured sledgers to hospital. Between us, we had crewed our 4x4Land Rovers 24 hours a day for the last few days. The patience of our generous employers and understanding families was starting to wear a little thin. I now had all my gear lined up by the front door, ready for me to grab it and run out to the next callout. Sure enough, the next one arrived at 5:30 on Sunday evening. I jumped in the car and headed to base.
The callout had come from a couple of walkers who had become lost somewhere on the top of Kinder. They phoned in saying that they were near a trig point, which they thought would be the Sandy Heys trig. We dispatched four sections up the usual decent routes, but it didn’t turn out to be the usual journey up. I went to navigate for search dog Ian on a route around Swinesback near the top of Kinder. However, the biggest problem we were going to have, was getting there. In normal conditions we could drive the Land Rover up the Coldwell Clough track, right up to Edale Cross and deploy from there. Today, we couldn’t get within half a mile of the bottom of the track. It was going to take a lot longer than usual to even get to the start of the track. We set off on foot through the snow. When we reached the bottom of Coldwell Clough it was clear this was going to be a slow, tough route. The snow was knee deep right from the start. The wind was howling and it was blowing the snow in to huge drifts, so not only was it difficult to see, but every other step had us plunging up to our thighs in deep snow. It was slow going.
Our other teams were having just as difficult a time. One team was heading up Kinder Low end, making full use of ice axes and crampons. We just kept plodding up the snowy track. Eventually after an hour of breaking a trail through the snow, we reached Moor Gate, half way to the start point of our search, to find a six foot snow drift blocking the track. I was just about to start bashing a way through this drift, when a call came through on the radio to say that the missing people had met up with some other walkers and started to descend. On their way down, they had run in to a Buxton team section, who had begun to escort them off the hill. This meant we could turn round and follow our tracks back down to base.
We arrived back in base to a welcome warm drink. Each time the door opened, another group of snow covered team members would come in, recounting tales of their winter exploits on Kinder. I think this will grow in to one of those famous “do you remember that wintery callout” tales, which will be recounted in the pub for many years to come.