FOUR arms of the emergency services took part in the overnight rescue of two hikers who were caught on dangerous and steep ground on Mweelrea mountain.
The alarm was raised at approximately 8.30pm on Thursday, January 5 and due to the location of the two male hikers and the low visibility, it was not until 3.30am when they were taken from the mountain.
Members of Mayo Mountain Rescue, Westport Coast Guard and the Achill RNLI lifeboat were all involved in the rescue as well as the Rescue 118 Coast Guard helicopter.
The two hikers, who were described as experienced and well equipped, had travelled from Dublin to climb Mweelrea as part of a training exercise. Mweelrea is Mayo’s largest peak at 814m but with its steep edges is also a dangerous mountain to climb.
It is understood that the two hikers, who were in their 30’s, got into difficulty after dark and went into an area with steep crags and were unable to safely navigate their way down.
They were located by Rescue 118 on the south face of the mountain near Killary harbour but due to the low visibility, the helicopter crew were unable to take the men to safety.
As a result, Mayo Mountain Rescue were contacted but due to the location of the hikers, the Achill RNLI lifeboat was deployed to transfer the team to the cliff edge. The lifeboat arrived on the scene at approximately 11.30pm and met the mountain rescue team at Rossroe Harbour and transferred them to the location.
Seven members of the mountain rescue team climbed the cliff face and located the two men approximately 200m up the cliff edge at approximately 2.30am. The weather conditions were described as ‘extremely difficult’ and the two men were lowered using safety ropes to the base of the mountain.
They were transferred to the lifeboat where they were medically examined and give hot soup. Apart from being wet they suffered no injuries and they were transferred to the shore.
The rescue was the first of the year for Mayo Mountain Rescue and according to a spokesperson, the first overnight rescue in ‘quite a while’. The joint rescue effort was praised as an example of the partnership between the various voluntary rescue teams.
“It was fantastic to be able to work with the RNLI, Rescue 118 and the Westport Coast Guard and it shows the dedication and service all the crews provide. We are also all volunteers and it is great to all work together,” the spokesperson for Mayo Mountain Rescue said.
Achill RNLI crew member and station mechanic Stephen McNulty also praised the team effort of all the crews.
“This was a great example of teamwork between different the rescue agencies. The voluntary crew of Achill RNLI is always ready for call out and this is where the training and commitment across the team really pays off. A happy ending is what we always hope for and thankfully that was the case again.”