One of the busiest Mountain Rescue Teams in England. 2017 our 53rd year

Dog Survives the Night in Severe Weather on the Mountain

Caudale Head
Grid reference: NY 41377 10316
02/02/2014
On Saturday 1st February, at about 1445, a worried solo male walker from Warrington, Cheshire, walked into the Brother’s Water Inn near Hartsop. He had lost his dog in a snowstorm and wanted to call the Police to alert mountain rescue. Patterdale mountain rescue team members were immediately called and a small group went to the man’s assistance.

On arrival, it transpired that the man had walked up to Caudale Head, but found himself in whiteout conditions on the summit. He decided to take a compass bearing to take him North and back to the safety of the bunkhouse where he was staying. However, whilst walking on the bearing the man slipped and fell approximately 150 metres down a very steep snow covered mountainside. Whilst he was falling uncontrollably he lost his dog, crampon and both walking poles. Unbelievably, the man survived the fall with only cuts, bruises and a sore shoulder. He made a concerted effort to climb back up and find his dog but rightly turned back when the terrain became too difficult.

With darkness falling, and the severe weather set to stay overnight, Patterdale mountain rescue team took the difficult decision to wait for the weather to subside on Sunday morning before starting a search for Bonnie, the missing dog.

Given the heavy snow on Friday and storm on Saturday, the team went prepared to search avalanche prone terrain. Five members of the team and the man climbed for an hour and half to reach the corrie and then formed a line to search the area. When they arrived there was no sign of the missing dog, a large area to search and lots of snow, which in some places was waist deep. With snow shovels, probes, avalanche transceivers and ice axes the team set about their task.

After an hour of searching (and slipping and falling) the team spotted a dog sitting on a small rocky outcrop. Minutes later they found a broken walking pole, a crampon and eventually another pole. The line that the man had fallen down the day before was clearly evident. He was indeed very lucky to have escaped relatively unscathed.

Amazingly, the dog had survived the night, and with a bacon sandwich inside her and some dog treats she was able to walk down the steep mountainside to be reunited with her master. They were both extremely pleased to see each other and quietly recognised how lucky they had both been. The team walked off the mountain and everyone went for a well earned pint of ale in the local pub.

Patterdale mountain rescue team would like to remind those venturing into the fells that full on winter conditions exits on many high fell tops. An ice axe and crampons are essential.

Seven team members were involved for a total of 35 man hours.