Res­cue was one of the most dif­fi­cult

Bray People - - News -

FRESH de­tails have emerged over the dra­matic moun­tain res­cue of two men lost on Lugnaquilla Moun­tain in treach­er­ous weather con­di­tions.

There were se­ri­ous con­cerns that the pair would end up suc­cumb­ing to the freez­ing weather af­ter spending close to 21 hours on the moun­tain, and at least 16 of them lost, writes Myles Buchanan.

34-year-old Pat Doyle of Wick­low and Meath man Keith McDon­nell started their de­scent from the top of Lugnaquilla on Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 9, at 4 p.m. when strong winds caused them to lose their map as it blew away.

With freez­ing fog re­duc­ing vis­i­bil­ity, they tried to find a fa­mil­iar route to de­scend.

By 8.30 p.m. they re­alised their ef­forts to de­scend were prov­ing fruit­less and con­tacted Wick­low res­cue ser­vices.

Find­ing the men was made in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult as vis­i­bil­ity was as low as five me­tres at times due to the freez­ing fog. They stayed in con­tact with moun­tain res­cue per­son­nel at 30 to 40 minute in­ter­vals.

Once it be­came clear that the res­cue teams weren’t go­ing to reach the men be­fore day­light they were ad­vised to ‘dig in’ to the snow for the night to try and pro­tect them­selves from mi­nus 3 tem­per­a­tures. Hy­pother­mia and ex­po­sure were two ma­jor con­cerns.

At this stage other moun­tain res­cue teams from around the coun­try were called for as­sis­tance. The Search and Res­cue Dogs As­so­ci­a­tion was also called into action.

As soon as some day­light ap­peared, res­cue teams from Mayo, Kerry, Leitrim, Sligo and North­ern Ire­land were joined by the Og­wyn Val­ley Moun­tain Res­cue team from Wales, who were flown over in RAF Sea King he­li­copters.

Mem­bers of the Army Ranger Wing, tak­ing part in a train­ing ex­er­cise, were also de­ployed to help with the search.

White out con­di­tions in some places made it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to tell land from sky or the gra­di­ent of the ter­rain.

With the clock tick­ing down and con­cerns over the safety of the two men grow­ing by the minute five he­li­copters were also used in the res­cue mis­sion. They were fi­nally lo­cated at 12.30 p.m. by army rangers.

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