“Whatever you do, take your time and stay safe,” advised Colm Byrne, team leader of Mayo Mountain Rescue, when asked about giving advice to people climbing Croagh Patrick on Sunday next, Reek Sunday.
This comes after a 69-year-old woman was rescused from the holy mountain on Wednesday evening after she sustained facial and lower leg injuries at the summit.
The woman was just beginning her descent in what was described by Mayo Mountain Rescue as “difficult conditions” with fog and visibility down to zero on the evening.
She was stretchered from the mountain over a two-hour period and was said to be comfortable and not suffering from life threatening injuries in Mayo General Hospital.
Mayo Mountain Rescue has issued some safety advice as the final touches were being put to preparations by its team to provide a continuous on-site rescue service to pilgrims on Reek Sunday. Mr Byrne noted that the Mayo Mountain Rescue Team and many other organisations involved in providing services to climbers have been planning the logistics for this day for a considerable number of months.
He paid special tribute to all of the organisations involved in ensuring that the pilgrimage for climbers is a safe and enjoyable one. He praised the inter agency co-operation by Mayo County Council, Order of Malta, Mayo Civil Defence, the Air Corps, the Gardaí, the HSE, the church and local communities, which ensured that help for climbers in difficulty would be always to hand and they would be evacuated in a prompt and safe manner from the mountain to a safe location to receive ongoing medical attention if necessary.
Overall, 11 mountain rescue teams with almost 120 personnel from all over the country will be taking part in the event.
Eamonn Berry, officer-in-charge of Westport Order of Malta Unit, and responsible for co-ordinating the work of some 100 Order of Malta volunteers from 10 units, echoed Byrne’s comments concerning climbers’ safety, and the level of co-operation that exists among all the organisations in providing a service to climbers on the day. As well as providing personnel for a medical tent on the mountain, The Order of Malta will position two first aid posts between the Murrisk car park and the first station on the mountain, and will have expert medical personnel on hand to assist with whatever injuries arise.
All involved with the day have urged climbers to do the following to minimise the chance of accidents and have an enjoyable climb:
Wear proper clothing, including headgear and footwear.
Walk/climb at a pace that you are comfortable with.
Bring wet-gear even though the sun may be shining – conditions change rapidly on the mountain.
Bring plenty of food, especially water.
Use a stick, especially on the descent.
If you get into difficulty, ask for help, the service is free.