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Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team
Mountain Rescue for Scafell Pike
People who get into trouble walking up Scafell Pike will be assisted by the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team. The team is made up totally of volunteer members who give their time for free simply to help those in need. Their funding comes from charitable donations so please give generously via their Just Giving page. (link at bottom of page)
Mountain Walk asked the team some questions
Can you provide some basic information about the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team?
The team was founded about 50 years ago and started life as the Wyndham Search Team. It has 40 team members and attends about 80 rescues per year. They also receive about 40 incidents from the police which are dealt with over the phone by talking people down Scafell Pike. About a third of the rescues are medical and injury related, a quarter are people who are reporting themselves as lost, and a further quarter being reported as overdue by friends or relatives.
Could these rescues be prevented if walkers were better prepared?
Obviously not making navigational errors would reduce the number of lost and overdue incidents, so taking a map and compass and knowing how to use them would help. There are also several rescues a year due to groups not being able to see after it gets dark. Carrying a good torch per person would help reduce these.
What would be your advice to anyone who wants to climb Scafell Pike?
Make sure you make the climb whether the weather forecast and conditions suit your ability. Make sure you keep enough energy in reserve for getting down. Do not set a date and then insist on climbing Scafell Pike on that day when the weather conditions turn out to be atrocious.
What is the minimum equipment they should have?
Waterproofs, warm clothes including hat and gloves, boots, map and compass, torch (with fresh batteries) and food and drink.
What times of year are best for a novice walker to attempt Scafell Pike?
When the summit temperature is well above freezing, with settled clear weather and low winds.
What should people try and avoid?
The dark - so avoid November to February
Ice/Snow - so avoid winter
Strong winds and low cloud - possible all year round but less likely in the summer.
Mountain Walk advises people to check the forecast before their walk. What sort of forecast weather should they absolutely avoid walking in?
Everybody is different. One person's challenge is another's nightmare. However, checking a forecast that includes summit wind speeds and temperatures should give an idea of whether it is a good idea for novices to venture into the mountains (MWIS (Mountain Weather Information Service) Or the Met Office Mountain Forecast). The wind can cause problems when it is on your back heading out, but then you have to battle against it on your return. Winds of over 40 mph can cause problems, and snow and ice, without the proper equipment and the knowledge how to use it, have the potential to cause serious incidents.
Do you get sufficient funding? Or what could you do if you had more funding?
We rely on donations and fundraising to support the running costs of the team, and are very grateful for the generous donations we receive. Time spend fundraising adds to the considerable workload of rescues and training. Donations can be given by visiting the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team Just Giving page. Please donate what you can - you never know when you might need their help!
Do you think Scafell Pike is a suitable walk for dogs?
Some dogs do have tough enough paws to cope, but it is not suitable for others (especially those not used to climbing mountains). I would agree that it is only suitable for dogs that have succcessfully climbed other rocky fells. We have recently had two different dog rescues off the Wasdale Screes Path.
What has been your most memorable rescue?
I have only been in the team three years, but last summer we had a day with two serious incidents on Scafell. One walker fell off Broad Strand, and whilst en route to this another climber fell on Rakes Progress. We were assisted by an air ambulance and an RAF Sea King helicopter in evacuating both casualties?
Is there any other advice you'd like to give a novice walker thinking of climbing Scafell Pike?
Make sure you leave details of your route and expected time of return whether walking alone or in a group. The details you should leave include:
Any possible alternatives
Expected time of return
Mobile number of any phones being carried in the group
Expected car parking location
Vehicle description and registration number
Equipment being carried
Age and medical conditions of members of the group.
This information would be very helpful in deciding the most appropriate response if the group is reported overdue to the team.
Mountain Walk have produced a form for you to complete will these details which you can leave with a friend/relative or at your hotel etc. Click here for the Walk and Walkers Details Form