Mountain rescue for yeshivah boys, again

By Nigel Burnham and Marcus Dysch, August 13, 2009
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Rescue teams in the Lake District have criticised a group of 23 yeshivah students who got stuck on a mountain for the second successive year.

An all-night rescue operation was launched on Sunday after the group from Gateshead Talmudical College became stuck while descending the 2,057ft Looking Stead, in one of Cumbria’s most remote valleys.

The male students, aged 14 to 23, were stranded on steep ground in mist and rain after wandering off a fell pass. Many were ill-prepared and were wearing T-shirts and trainers.

But their plight prompted an angry response from leaders of the volunteer rescue service, who worked until 5am to guide the group — some suffering from the early stages of hypothermia — off the mountain.

The leader was involved in a similar incident on Scafell last year and does not seem to be learning his lesson. There’s a tragedy here waiting to happen.

Mike Park

Mike Park, of Cockermouth Rescue Team, said the 19-year-old leader of the group had needed the assistance of mountain rescue teams in the area at least twice before.

In May last year the same group was described as “clueless” by rescuers after becoming stranded in almost identical circumstances in the Lake District.

Mr Park said Cumbria police could now investigate the unnamed student’s competence to lead groups, although officers suggested a prosecution was unlikely.

Mr Park said: “The leader was involved in a similar incident on Scafell last year and does not seem to be learning his lesson. There’s a tragedy here waiting to happen.

“They were stuck in darkness in an area with a number of cliff ledges and the weather was deteriorating. It’s a miracle that nobody fell or was seriously injured.”

His colleague Steve Brailey, who also took part in the rescue, said members of his team had “immediately recognised” the students and were shocked to discover they were stuck again.

“The number in the group made them distinctive. It’s unique rescuing people and it’s not often you have 23 people to bring down. It was a tough job for us. They told us they were all studying Jewish studies but I’m not sure whether this trip was organised by the college.

“If you are rescued and it is your fault, then you need to learn from that. Most people who are rescued are mortified, and will do their level best not to be in that position again. This group did not seem so concerned.”

However, a spokesman for Gateshead Talmudical College said he had no knowledge of the trip.

The alarm was raised by a warden at the remote hostel where the group was staying. The students were given warm clothes and food by their rescuers before being escorted down to the hostel and then driven back to their bus at nearby Bowness Knott.

    Last updated: 1:53pm, October 9 2009