By Michelle Crean

Rescue volunteers are warning the public to stay away from the mountains due to current icy and dangerous conditions – after nine people had to be rescued yesterday (Tuesday).

Kerry Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) volunteers, tasked at 1pm to assist a male walker who had become crag fast in icy conditions on the Devil’s Ladder Carrauntoohil, found themselves in the midst of an even bigger rescue operation – as three other groups sought help to descend the mountain.

“While a number of team members on the hill made their way to the casualty’s location, another party of three got into difficulty in the same location,” Colm Burke PRO with KMRT said.

“Team members roped the casualties and lowered them to easier ground. A further two parties were subsequently lowered from the same location amounting to a total of nine persons in all requiring assistance.”

SAFETY

“The team would like to remind people that current conditions in the Reeks are very serious and any route, including traditional walking routes, should only be attempted by those with prior winter mountaineering experience and the appropriate winter climbing equipment including axes and crampons. As we are unfortunately in the early throes of another Level 5 lockdown with cases of COVID-19 at record levels, Kerry Mountain Rescue Team would like to reiterate our previous lockdown stance in relation to the virus. This is a necessary reminder in order to protect our members and their families as well as the casualties themselves.”

He added that if you call 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue, they will do what they can, however…

– If you are uninjured, lost or benighted, you will be asked to consider waiting until morning, and/or better visibility to extricate yourself.
– If you are injured but able to walk comfortably you will be asked to consider extricating yourself from the mountain.
– If you are seriously injured, and/or not physically able to get yourself off the hill, we will attend with the absolute minimum of team members needed to complete the task. Because of this, the evacuation will be less straightforward and the overall time to transport you to medical attention will be much longer.

“Helicopter support will only be requested if a time critical injury is sustained, but this is not a guarantee of availability as helicopter operations in the mountains are complex and limited by weather, light conditions etc.”

Kerry Mountain Rescue are asking all hill-goers to be considerate of the resources of the Emergency Services at this time by avoiding high mountain terrain such as the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, sticking to lowland paths and walkways while strictly observing social distancing principles and the 5km travel restrictions recently re-imposed by the Government.

“Given the current wintry conditions on the hills in Kerry, and recent observations by team members of extremely ill-equipped parties, we would also like to remind people who are considering venturing into the hills at this time to ensure they are properly equipped (including ice axe and crampons), have sufficient winter mountaineering experience and are complying with Government guidance on travel restrictions.”