Climbers warned to prepare properly after rise in rescue incidents

Kerry Mountain Rescue has dealt with 16 callouts since start of August

People planning to try and climb Ireland's highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, or any of the surrounding MacGillycuddy Reeks should make sure they are properly prepared and equipped, Kerry Mountain Rescue has warned after experiencing a high number of rescue callouts so far this summer.

On Sunday, it dealt with its 16th rescue since the start of August.

Colm Burke, Kerry Mountain Rescue spokesman, said the team has had to undertake a number of rescue missions that in many cases stemmed from inexperienced climbers failing to take proper precautions when setting out to tackle Carrauntoohil and the Reeks.

“While a number of the incidents over the summer could be classified as accidents suffered by experienced hillgoers, unfortunately the vast majority have involved parties who were unprepared and ill-equipped for their mountain activity,” he said.


“There have been numerous examples of people with inappropriate footwear suffering injuries from slips and falls, groups starting out too late and not taking account of weather conditions, and parties with no knowledge of the ground or area they are in subsequently getting lost.”

Lowered by stretcher

Each rescue involves a huge effort by the volunteers of Kerry Mountain Rescue as happened on Sunday. At about 3.45pm, the team responded to a call for assistance after a male climber in his 40s sustained injuries in a fall near the top of the Devil’s Ladder.

"A full callout was initiated and members of the team treated the casualty at the scene before lowering him by stretcher down to Ard na Locha where he was subsequently evacuated to University Hospital Kerry by Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 from Shannon," he said.

Mr Burke said that this callout, which involved a total of 24 team members of Kerry Mountain Rescue and concluded at approximately 8pm, was the 16th such incident that the team had dealt with since the start of August and followed nine callouts in June and 11 in July.

Of the August callouts, there have been 11 where people suffered injuries including five where they suffered ankle or knee injuries, one where someone broke a leg, two where climbers broke their ankles, one where someone broke a hip or pelvis and one where somebody dislocated a shoulder.

Footwear and exhaustion

Another case involved somebody suffering from exhaustion while the remaining five cases involved parties getting lost on the mountains with the majority of the callouts relating to the Carrauntoohil area of the Reeks, said Mr Burke.

He said that a particularly concerning trend observed by Kerry Mountain Rescue in recent weeks had been the number of families with young children attempting to climb Carrauntoohil without the appropriate footwear, clothing or equipment.

“The rise in the number of incidents and the types of trends being observed is of particular concern to the team as the potential for more serious injuries or fatalities is greatly increased,” said Mr Burke as he urged anyone contemplating heading into the Reeks to take more personal responsibility.

People should ask themselves if they are fit, competent and experienced while they should also ask the same questions of other members of their group. They should ask themselves too if they know the area and can navigate effectively in all weather, he said.

People should also ensure that they are properly equipped in terms of having good boots, appropriate clothing for the mountain, rain gear, spare clothing, food, water, map and compass (and the ability to use them). They should also take a fully charged mobile phone, a first aid kit and bivvy bag/shelter, he added. People should also check the weather forecast and make out a route plan as well as well as make sure they notify someone on the ground of their intended route, their start time and expected return time.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times