Tea Break at Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Base Camp

The beautifully wild Ogwen Valley

Almost hidden in the tranquil wilds of Snowdonia’s Ogwen Valley is the home base of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation. Tucked beneath the Carneddau mountains to the north and facing the mighty Glyders to the south the base is overlooked by that gnarly, much beloved peak of Tryfan, but this is also a place where the team spend many hours on callouts to aid people in difficulties on this challenging mountain.

 Tryfan – one of Britain most loved mountains but a site of many Mountain Rescue callouts

I originally connected with OVMRO when planning my 500 mile #3PeaksRun in 2017 hoping to fundraise for them. One of the most memorable comments that has stayed with me from when we discussed the nature of what might appear on social media during the challenge was when a spokesperson stated “ we don’t do politics, we just save lives” and I feel this really describes all the Mountain Rescue family in their objective and non-judgmental approach. They do, however, encourage and advise us all to be prepared and to learn the appropriate skills to help keep ourselves safe on our outdoors adventures.

  Meeting some of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation team at their base

It was very special to finally meet them in person and after one of the best cups of tea I have ever had, probably partly due to the fact I had just finished running around the 12 summits of the Glyderau, I was treated to a tour of the base with Jed Stone, Chris Lloyd and othet team members. A very well oiled machine, the team have invested much time, effort and funds into creating this excellent base of operations, with fastidiously well cared for and organised gear rooms, an education area in the loft, a modern control room, showers for team members to freshen up between a long callout in the hills and then going back to their day jobs, and the all important brew room with warm communal area, invaluable for the team, visitors and importantly at times for those who have been rescued to re-warm or await further help or worried loved ones awaiting news of an ongoing rescue operation.

 Ogwen Valley is a stunning area for some excellent low level walking too

Looking around I was very impressed with how well organised the base was, which I think appealed to my own slightly obsessive tidiness gene but also makes you realise that there is also a lot of work involved cleaning and drying equipment and constantly maintaining and preparing it so it is always ready to go when the next call comes in which could be at any moment.

 Long serving Mountain Rescue team member Chris Lloyd demonstrating some of the teams vital equipment

 

 Stretchering a casualty off the hills is a huge undertaking. Photo courtesy of OVMRO.

After feeling a bit tetchy with the weight of the backpack I carry with me on my runs into the mountains I soon learned that I really have nothing to complain about when I hauled one of the backpacks that the rescue team members carry out on a callout. WOW! Heavy enough just standing in the base, imagine hefting it up a mountain and in double quick time when on a rescue! One bit of kit that I would like to add to my pack (just in cases!) was a vacuum splint. Contrary to how I thought these worked – by inflating around the patient to hold them still, which could actually be disastrous in the event of it cutting off circulation – these great bits of medical kit are positioned around the limb and then the air is sucked out of them, moulding perfectly to the limb and feeling almost solid – very impressive. As broken or sprained limbs are often a result of an accident in the hills these splints are incredibly useful, being lightweight to carry, quick and easy to apply and very effective.

 Jed and Chris immobilizing me in the vacuum splint!

Before I knew it was time for everyone to head home for some well deserved rest but not before I was regaled with some fantastic stories from Chris, who, as a full member of the team since 1977, certainly had a lot of tales to tell including the time recently when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also stopped off for a cup of tea, landing by helicopter just behind the base. Apparently, according to Kate , HRH Prince William makes an excellent brew, but is a bit rubbish at the washing up!

 The Wall of names of the volunteer team members over the history of the organisation.

With no shortage of popular peaks within their jurisdiction you would think the team had more than enough mountain callouts to keep them busy, and they do, but the work does not stop there. The team is also involved in very many situations to assist the emergency services who may struggle to reach casualties. With their diverse range of training and skills Mountain Rescue Teams are often called upon for their help in floods, heavy winter weather, accidents in fast moving water, and any situation in remote or hard to reach locations. They now even train in evidence collection in order to accurately record details of an incident to pass over to the police, who are unable to reach the scene.

You can learn more about the fantastic work of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation on their website at OVMRO and Mountain Rescue England & Wales at https://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk . I am #RunningtheSummits – climbing 1000 Mountains of The British Isles in 365 days to raise awareness and funds to support the life saving work of these amazing volunteer teams. Please support them if you can at

https://virginmoneygiving.com/runningthesummits .

A Mountainous THANK YOU! 💕😊

Follow the challenge online at Running the Summits on Facebook!

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