A few weeks ago, on the 15th Feb, I went to Woodhead Mountain Rescue for an informal interview with a view to joining the team. All seemed to go ok, and a few days later I received an invitation to be assessed for suitability.
Understandably, the assessment was postponed (several times) because of snow.
Yes, MRT do go out in the snow, but they go with a team they trust, not newbies they don’t know.
After the thaw, a date was set for the 8th March. So after packing my rucksack and making some sarnies, I had an early night. I was up early to be presented with a good 4 inches of snow, bugger. For the fourth time it looked like my hill assessment would be postponed, however…
An hour later than planned, we met up at a carpark by Flouch roundabout. Just getting here had been a traumatic event, with cars and vans strewn across the road at Hade Edge. I introduced myself to Ian, who will assess my navigation skills and fitness, and another Andy, who is also under the microscope.
Neither of us really knew what to expect as we geared up with waterproofs and fleeces.
Ian gave us three grid references to locate on the map, bloody hell I thought, they are a way off!
Our treck started pleasantly enough on snow covered woodland paths, very pleasant. It didn’t last, soon we were slip sliding down a slope and immediately heading back up the other side. Stop, take me to this point on the map, says Ian. No path, no obvious reference points. Counting paces to get to 300m, turn 90’, another 150m, x marks the spot. Give or take 10m we were there. That was the first of 8 locations to go to, all off the paths, and all buried in snow.
All in all it took over 4 hours. Tired out, I still managed a grin when I learnt I had passed, (so did the other Andy. 😊)
Next step, training.
Why bother?, there are no mountains in Huddersfield.
The distinction of being a mountain or not really won’t be of any concern to you if you are on top of Bleaklow with an injury. You are not getting off without help. The team is also called upon to help during floods, to search for vulnerable children and adults, to assist the emergency services and a whole range of other tasks.
Over the coming year I will be undertaking training in all aspects of Rescue work including Advanced First Aid, Rope Rescues, Radio procedures and Search systems. At some point during the year, (when I have sufficient knowledge) I will be made a part of the on call team, being available to respond at any time. I suspect that in the early days I will be mostly used for extra muscle.
I’ll keep you updated on what I am up to, watch this space 😉
Who are the Mountain Rescue Team?
Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) was formed in the early ’70s by the amalgamation of the Huddersfield Scout MRT, Stocksbridge Barugh Rovers and Sheffield Scout MRT that were formed after the 1964 Four Inns fatalities. The team primarily covers the North Eastern area of the Peak District, but can be called to assist in any area of the Peak National Park – especially during a major incident / search.
Two of the teams founder members are still active engaging in support roles within the team. The team is a member of the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (P.D.M.R.O.).
P.D.M.R.O. was formed in 1964 following the death during the bad winter of 1963 of two climbers in an avalanche in Wilderness Gully, Chew Valley, and a multiple fatal accident during the 1964 Four Inns Walk. Prior to then there were few mountain rescue teams in the Peak District. These were uncoordinated and inadequately equipped.
The two tragedies in 1964 demonstrated the need for coordination of the few teams that did exist and the need to establish others. The P.D.M.R.O. was established to co-ordinate the activities of all the Mountain Rescue Teams in the Peak District and thus assist the Police with all mountain rescue incidents.
On average, Woodhead MRT is called out to 35 incidents annually. That equates to one every 10 days, but often comes in groups of 2 or 3 incidents straight after each other.