Page last updated at 21:14 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Rescue for walkers who triggered avalanche in Cumbria

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Police have urged people not walk in the fells until conditions improve on high land

Two climbers were swept 750ft (228m) down a fell after triggering an avalanche in the Lake District.

The men suffered serious injuries and were airlifted off St Sunday Crag in Patterdale after a major rescue operation was sparked at 1400 GMT.

Two other men were caught in the avalanche but emerged nearer the fell top and suffered lesser injuries.

The men, believed to be from County Durham, triggered the avalanche in trying to climb a ridge, rescuers said.

Martin Cotterell, leader of Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, said one man suffered serious head and leg injuries while the other had chest injuries.

He said: "The men had got to the top of their climb when they were faced by a snow-covered ridge, called Pinnacle Ridge, and they triggered the avalanche when they attempted to climb it.

"Two were swept down the fell and were found in the debris of the avalanche. The other two men have somehow rolled out closer to the top, we are not sure how."

Areas unstable

An RAF Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland was sent to the scene along with a 19-strong team from Patterdale Mountain Rescue and two North West Air Ambulance crews.

Three of the men were airlifted off the fell but the final man walked down with mountain rescuers before being taken to hospital.

Insp Lee Skelton, of Cumbria Police, said recent heavy snow falls combined with fluctuating temperatures had left many areas unstable.

Officers are urging people not walk in the fells and to postpone activities until conditions improve on high land.



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