Mountain heroes save man's life

A TEAM of Suffolk mountaineers have been credited with saving a man's life after they discovered him freezing to death on an exposed ridge.

Will Clarke

A TEAM of Suffolk mountaineers have been credited with saving a man's life after they discovered him freezing to death on an exposed ridge.

Alan Coldwell, Chris Gould and Jerry Myles, civilian firefighters at RAF Mildenhall, and their guide, Dave Wainwright, from the base's outdoor recreation squadron, were on the final leg of a Three Peaks Challenge - climbing Ben Nevis, in Scotland, England's Scaffell Pik and finally Mt Snowdon, in Wales, in 24 hours - when they found a figure covered in snow.

He was alone, unconscious, and suffering from hypothermia and frostbite having spent the night on the mountain in only a shirt and trainers.

The group only stumbled across the man huddled near the Snowdon mountain top visitor centre after they changed their route to escape a blizzard.

Mr Coldwell said: “We came up onto the ridge, but we were just getting blown all over the place. It was icy, and we could only just stay on our feet. Dave told us it was best if we went down the ridge - we would at least be sheltered from the wind.”

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Mr Wainwright said: “It was when we were almost at the summit, that we spotted something in the doorway of the visitors centre. At first we thought it was just rubbish, or a pile of clothes someone had left there.

“But as we got closer, we could see it was someone wearing a hat, and saw the guy sitting there, just huddled up in the corner, trying to keep warm - he had obviously been out there a long time.”

The four men used their training, equipment and supplies to keep the lost 40-year-old walker from Manchester alive, safe and warm.

Mr Coldwell said: “By then we were just trying to keep the guy awake; he kept dropping back into unconsciousness, which is pretty dangerous when you've got hypothermia.

“We were talking to him just to keep him awake and we gave him bits of chocolate and sips of water to sustain him until rescue arrived.”

Ian Henderson, of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue team, said: “He is a very lucky man - it was thanks to the spectacular work of those who found him that he is still alive.

“It is unbelievable that he spent a night on Snowdon, below freezing and in 60mph winds, dressed in trainers and everyday clothes.”

The man recovered in hospital after he was taken off the mountain by helicopter.