Members of Mayo Mountain Rescue were called to Mwellrea yesterday after two walkers got into trouble.
A report on the organization’s Facebook page noted: “Two walkers descending from the summit had strayed into steep terrain.
“After rolling down some exposed sections, they felt it would be safer to keep going down rather than trying to go back up.
“Unfortunately, due to the poor visibility, they couldn’t see that only steeper and more dangerous terrain was below them.
“They continued to descend, passing very exposed and difficult sections. They knew it was impossible to come back from where they had come, but then found that it was just as impossible to continue descending.
“At 2:45 pm, the day before was replaced by a full team call.
“Using the walkers’ phone’s GPS, the team was able to get a good position on their location and a rescue plan was developed.
“At 3:45 pm the team assembled on a runway just above Silver Strand on the west side of Mweelrea (there were traffic delays at Westport).
“At 4:00 pm, a first intervention team of five people was deployed with a small amount of equipment and in order to locate the missing walkers and assess the situation.
“By 5:30 p.m. this group had reached the approximate location and could hear screams and whistles from both, but again, due to poor visibility and the very steep nature of the search area, it took another two hours to reach them.
“This was ultimately achieved by lowering the rescuers past the various dangerous sections that the two walkers had descended.
“Meanwhile, several other teams were on their way with all the equipment required for a full technical rescue.
“Due to the risk of dislodging the many boulders and boulders immediately above the walkers, the number of rescuers working in this area has been kept to a minimum.
“Both walkers were well equipped with warm clothing, food and drink, so when the first rescuer joined them they were in a good mood and ready to begin their transition from walker to climber with confidence.
“The helmets and harnesses fell off with the next rescuer and then the slow process of getting everyone back to safety began.
“There were five ‘lengths’ or lengths of rope in total. A safety line had to be provided for each walker and then for each rescuer to make it possible to climb the exposed and dangerous sections in complete safety.
“They made their way, one by one. Everyone was waiting their turn, nestled out of the ‘line of fire’ just in case any large boulders or boulders were dislodged from above.
“It was a slow and orderly process, but by 9:30 pm everyone was back on safe ground and the long walk to the track above Silver Strand began.
“As they descended from the mountain, the sun appeared under the thick cloud cover before falling gracefully into the ocean beside the Isle of Clare – a spectacular sunset.
“It was a happy group that returned to the road where our Incident Command Team was managing operations, but they were even happier to be greeted with a huge pot of stew, potatoes, sandwiches and of tea and even delicious vegetarian options – all provided by a local family who know too well that such a happy outcome is not guaranteed.
“The team was disbanded at 10:30 p.m., and after a short debriefing to capture any lessons that could be learned, the operation was closed and everyone went home.”