Extreme weather conditions combined with very high water levels in rivers in the Wicklow mountains contributed to 16 people requiring rescue yesterday,. Despite completing a strenuous training exercise earlier on Sunday, Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue and the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue responded to two separate incidents during the day, with the last rescue continuing through the night until 7am this morning.
The first rescue involved a family group of 5 who had started a walk near Djouce Mountain and had been surprised by the high winds and driving rain. At about 1.30pm, as they sought shelter behind a wall, mountain rescue volunteers who had been out walking in the area spotted them. They approached the group and quickly established that they needed help in order to ensure their safety. They were quickly assessed by a mountain rescue medic and provided with warm clothes and food. They were then escorted a short distance across a river to a forest track where Mountain Rescue 4×4 vehicles were able to transport them back to their cars.
The second incident involved an experienced group from a Dublin based hiking club. The 11 people in the group had started their walk from the car park above Glenmacnass waterfall at 11am that morning. When they were about to finish their hike that evening they realised that the river between them and their cars had swollen and they would not be able to cross it safely. The group decided to move upstream in order to find a safer place to cross but remained stranded on the wrong side of the river. At approximately 7.30pm, they found themselves under a small cliff beside the fast-flowing river with no hope of crossing or moving further upstream. At this point they decided to call mountain rescue and ask for assistance.
A full callout was initiated at 8pm and over 40 members of Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue and the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue quickly responded to a remote location just south of the Sally Gap. The volunteers made their way to the group in horrendous weather conditions across rough, steep ground, crossing three fast-flowing rivers along the way. Radio communications in the area proved to be difficult due to the steep terrain and a relay station was established at a high point in order to ensure complete coverage. Once the group was reached, mountain rescue medics assessed the condition of each member of the party and treated minor injuries. Torrential rain, howling winds, hailstones and plummeting temperatures ensured that keeping the group and the mountain rescue volunteers warm and dry was a priority. Equipment such as group shelters, specialised, lightweight heatpacks and technical bivy bags proved invaluable and all members of the group were given hot drinks and food. At this point the situation remained extremely serious and assistance was requested from three neighbouring mountain rescue teams in case conditions deteriorated further.
Spirits in the group remained high despite the weather conditions and the news that an overnight stay at their current location was likely to be necessary. The Met Office in Dublin Airport were assisting the planning of the evacuation of the group by providing us with weather updates throughout the night. A break in the weather around 4.30am allowed rescue personnel to start moving the stranded group to safety. The evacuation involved providing roped security measures on three rivers and leading the group across the rough and treacherous terrain to safety. Each member of the group was assigned a mountain rescue team member to support them on the evacuation whilst other team members navigated, rigged the ropes on the rivers or carried out equipment which had been used during the night.
At approximately 6.30am, the last member of the group reached a waiting mountain rescue 4×4 and was driven down a track to rescue base. All members of the group were assessed by a waiting HSE ambulance crew as a precaution – none required further treatment and were able to drive home, a little later than expected. Team members packed up all the wet gear and were able to leave the scene at roughly 7.30am after a long and difficult night in the mountains.
Mountain Rescue would like to thank all of the participants in the two rescues:
– Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue
– Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue
– Mourne Mountain Rescue
– South Eastern Mountain Rescue
– North Western Mountain Rescue
– An Garda Síochana
– HSE ambulance crews and staff
– Dublin Airport Met office
– Defence Force’s Aer Corps
– The Wicklow Heather in Laragh for cooking breakfast this morning!