The Guardia Civil had to carry out 6 helicopter flights in the Sierra Nevada to rescue 18 mountaineers

Unbelievable I know but 18 mountaineers had to be rescued from the Sierra Nevada over the past weekend even though we are still officially in “summer” mode.

My translation of the newspaper article is below which summarises the events over the weekend. But, what lessons can be learned from this?

In my opinion

1) Don’t underestimate the Sierra Nevada! The length, height and difficulty need to be treated with the utmost respect

2) Check weather conditions and change plans accordingly

3) Make sure the intended route is within the physical capability of every member of your group

4) If the situation changes in the mountains be prepared to change plan. An escape down to Trevelez was possible from El Cuervo and at many situations during that day.

5) Always carry plenty of backup clothing (yes, I know it’s southern Spain in summer!)

Source and photo: IDEAL GRANADA Monday, 4 September 2017 http://www.ideal.es/granada/provincia-granada/montaneros-rescatados-niebla-20170904141052-nt.html

The Guardia Civil this past weekend had to rescue and assist 18 of the 22 mountaineers from a Granada club suffering from different problems when they tried to cross the Sierra Nevada from north to south.

The mountaineers, aged between 50 and 70 years old, began the route last Saturday morning in Piedra Partida and intended to finish it in the town of Capileira, stopping overnight in the guarded Refugio Poqueira. This they did not reach because their problems had begun many hours earlier in the day.

The first notice was received by the Guardia Civil at 14:10. The Emergency Coordinating Center (112) warned that a mountaineer needed to be evacuated from a high mountain area near the peak of El Cuervo in the Sierra Nevada, due to a knee injury.

The Guardia Civil then sent a helicopter and two specialists from their Mountain Rescue Service to assist the mountaineer. When they arrived, they met three more mountaineers, two men and one woman, who said they were suffering from altitude sickness and from muscle cramps. They had to evacuate the four on two separate flights.

That same afternoon at about 18:30 hours the Emergency Coordinating Center again had to alert the Guardia Civil that some hikers had physical problems in the area of ​​the Puntal del Goterón, about 3000 meters in height: one had injured a hand and the other was said to be very tense and emotional. Curiously, the two people who had to be rescued belonged to the same group as the mountaineers rescued that same morning.

As the weather conditions had changed a lot: a strong wind and a very thick fog had arisen; it was no longer 2 people who had to be assisted, but 14, and therefore it was necessary to effect the immediate evacuation of the largest number of mountaineers in order of seriousness because they were not equipped to spend a night out in those conditions.

The Guardia Civil selected the people to be evacuated that very afternoon. The first flight evacuated 3 people and in the second, after several attempts to approach, 4 more. The rest stayed the night with the two agents of the Mountain Rescue Service until the next day they could be rescued.

The helicopter, before carrying out the last evacuation of the day, flew to the Refugio Poqueira and collected sleeping bags and mats for the mountaineers and the two civil guards who were to spend the night in the open.

Saturday’s rescues were very difficult due to the weather conditions in the area. All had to be done by partial support of the helicopter, since the area was very steep and there was no where to land. In addition the pilots had to ‘fight’ with the strong wind and the fog.

The Guardia Civil advises that before making a trip into the high mountain you have to consult the weather relating to your intended route; you have to plan the route very well and the participants do not have to overestimate their physical possibilities, as happened to the 18 mountaineers rescued.