Snowbound Men Rescued after 14 Hour Ordeal (03/02/09)

The Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team and Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team received simultaneous calls for help shortly before 22:00 Tuesday 3/2/09, from two Dutch tourists who were snowbound in their car near Killakee and four Dublin men stranded high up on the Sally Gap in 3 separate 4 wheel drive vehicles.
Mountain Rescue personnel were dispatched to assist Gardaí in the rescue of the two Dutch tourists gaining access to the stranded individuals with the help of a tractor. They were escorted to safety within a relatively short time frame and this incident was stood down at approximately 03:00, Wednesday 4/2/09.
Meanwhile, specialist 4 wheel drive vehicles with highly experienced drivers attempted to reach the four men stranded on the Sally Gap since 17:00 Tuesday, 3/2/09 via a number of different routes. Unfortunately it was impossible to get any closer than 5km of the men, with drifts of snow up to 1.5m high in places and the road itself not being distinguishable from the open mountain.
The men, who remained in good spirits throughout their ordeal, kept their engines running to stay warm in the freezing conditions. They were advised to ensure that their exhausts were clear of snow at all times to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mountain rescue medics expressed concern for the men, who had not eaten since lunchtime on Tuesday and had no provisions with them. They had also spent some time attempting to dig their vehicles out of the snow and were sitting in damp clothing, running the risk of hypothermia. With this in mind, and with the possibility of having to walk the men off the mountains if weather conditions did not improve enough for the helicopter to assist, it was absolutely vital to get provisions to the men to keep them warm and strong enough for the trek to safety.
As such, two Mountain Rescue volunteers were tasked to ski into the men with food and blizzard blankets. Thankfully, the weather did clear long enough for the Coastguard helicopter to fly in and approximately 30 minutes after the Mountain Rescue volunteers arrived on scene, they were able to commence airlifting the men to safety. The operation was stood down at 09:35, Wednesday 4/2/09.
Mountain Rescue would like to thank all agencies and individuals who assisted in both rescues.