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Lost in Cwm Dwr

by PCW ~, 13 December 2008

West Brecon Cave Rescue Team call-out on Saturday 6th December 2008 ~ by Sue Goodhead

Overdue party : - members of Exeter University on a trip from Top Entrance to Cwm Dwr.

A party of 4 - 2 females and 2 males set off on a through trip at 12.00 on Saturday. They were equipped with a survey and 2 members of the party had previously completed a caving trip at each end of their through trip. Their ETA was 20.00 and when they didn’t appear a callout was started at 21.00.

A Cwm Dwr/OFDII search plan has been formalised recently based on years of experience of overdue parties on the through trip in both directions and this was an opportunity to put it into practice. A search party of 3 entered Top Entrance with a Heyphone to do a quick sweep search and ensure that the party were not lost there and had not returned via the Streamway and overshot up towards Top Waterfall. The information from the Exeter “leaders” tied in with the search plan and was that if in doubt “…the party would return the way that they had come in”.

This search drew a blank so 3 pairs were deployed into Cwm Dwr to cover the 3 main routes to the Confluence. At this time a number of members on standby were asked to travel to H.Q. Fortunately, the 2nd search group found the “lost” party the other side of the Boulder Choke near the traverses; they were cold and tired but otherwise in good shape.

The group had spent nearly 4 hours trying to find their way through the boulder choke and then given up. They had taken emergency rations in with them and had consumed them. Control were informed via Heyphone and they were then escorted out by the search party. The remaining team members who had been called were subsequently stood down.

The whole incident was completed by 01.15 hrs.

Communications using Heyphones from Maypole Inlet and Cwm Dwr worked extremely well – and our thanks to those who sat in freezing temperatures to operate comms, both on the hillside and with radios at the two entrances.

Many thanks also to all those members who turned out on a Saturday night, gave up their SWCC Committee time, or willingly helped out on any task that they were given.

I would like to particularly thank Fred, Gary & Toby for their support and guidance leading to a successful result.

Diolch yn fawr i bawb!

Sue Goodhead for WBCRT