Tryfan: Woman scattering dad’s ashes rescued on mountain

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Woman has to be rescued after getting stuck on mountain whilst scattering dad’s ashes

By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC News

Scattering her dad’s ashes on one of the UK’s most recognisable peaks almost ended in tragedy for Kitty Harrison.

She had just given her father Steve Parry an emotional send-off on the summit of Tryfan, one of Wales’ highest mountains, when she slipped.

Kitty, 32, doesn’t know how far she fell, but clung to a tiny ledge where she balanced precariously above a 300ft (91m) drop for more than three hours.

She has thanked the “heroes” who saved her life in a seven-hour rescue.

“I was in such a state and I couldn’t have got out there myself,” said the trainee dental nurse. “They deserve so much credit and praise, they are heroes.”

A helicopter and a 12-strong mountain rescue team were needed to find and save Kitty who had slipped while ascending the tricky terrain of one of the most notorious climbs in Eryri, also known as Snowdonia.

“My foot slipped on the loose shingle and I slipped quite a way and I landed on a tiny ledge,” Kitty told the BBC’s SOS: Extreme Rescues programme.

Steve Parry, his daughter Kitty and her husband Michael used to go hill walking together

“If I hadn’t gone down that side, I’d have gone straight down the mountain and I’m not sure I’d be here today.”

She was almost a third of the way down from the 3,000ft (917m) summit – where she had said her final goodbye to her beloved dad – when volunteers located her using her mobile phone GPS and spotters from the coastguard chopper.

“It was cold on that ledge, it was wet and I was there such a long time,” said Kitty, who lives with husband Michael in Wolverhampton.

“I tried to climb back up but it was so wet and slippy, I was too scared I’d fall.”

Kitty didn’t know what significant challenges the rescue team was trying to overcome to get to her off Tryfan’s rocky and sheer western side.

“There’s the initial relief that someone’s coming to get me,” she recalled. “Then you wait and no-one came.

The rugged and rocky steep slopes of Tryfan has been voted the UK’s best climb in one poll

“Then the helicopter comes and you’re waving but no-one was waving back. I was worried no-one had seen me. That happened again and again.

“You go from hope to proper doom, to fear that no-one is going to find me.

“As time went on, I was shivering cold and damp and couldn’t move a muscle but because of the exercise climbing up the mountain, my legs were tired and shaking. I thought I could fall off here before they find me.”

Due to the rugged topography and tricky wind speeds, the helicopter couldn’t get close to Kitty, who was perched in a gully.

The only option for rescuers was to go above her and abseil down.

Kitty was tricky to spot by rescue teams as she was perched on the western gully of Tryfan

“She was quite distraught and in quite a scary place for some time,” said Robin Woodward of Ogwen Mountain Rescue, one of the UK’s busiest rescue agencies.

“This was someone properly worrying for their own life. It wouldn’t have turned out well for her if she’d slipped further down.”

Robin dropped 100ft (30m) down to rescue a relieved Kitty and carried her to safety – one of a record 178 incidents the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team dealt with in 2022, 40% of which were on Tryfan.

“When the rescuers said there’s BBC cameras with us, part of me thought I don’t care who’s with you just get me off this mountain,” said Kitty with a smile.

They’re among the UK’s busiest rescue teams that try to save lives on the mountains, coast and in the forests of Eryri or Snowdonia.

The 12-part series is available on BBC iPlayer and on Mondays at 19:00 GMT on BBC One Wales and BBC Two elsewhere.

Kitty joked: “The other part thought ‘that’s typical, I have one bad day and that’s the day the BBC decided to come and see me’.

“I’d also ripped my leggings when I fell and I was like ‘please don’t put my bum on the telly’ – my mum would’ve killed me.”

It was the end of an emotional summer’s day for Kitty who had scaled Tryfan to give her beloved dad Steve – a nature and outdoors-loving father-of-two – the send-off he wanted after he died suddenly aged 56 in January 2021.

“It’s a special place for us as it was dad’s favourite mountain with the best view as well as being the most exhilarating climb,” recalled Kitty.

“He once shared on Facebook that he wanted his ashes to be scattered there when he’s gone because he just wanted to see that amazing view for the rest of his days.”

Steve, who worked for birds protection charity RSPB, loved photography, wildlife and being outdoors and took the family on holidays to north Wales from the West Midlands regularly to enjoy the countryside.

Kitty said she is an experienced climber and was well prepared with emergency provisions while taking her dad on his final journey in June 2022

Tottenham Hotspur football fan Steve and Kitty loved going to town together to visit the traditional sweet shop

“I felt a real sense of achievement when getting to the top to fulfil his final request,” recalled Kitty.

“I found a lovely spot and sat with him just smiling and said to myself ‘I did what you said dad’.

“Then as I came down I slipped and carried on falling.”

Kitty suffered a number of bumps and bruises, but no serious injuries.

“Dad used to call Tryfan the little mountain that bites back – and now I know why,” she added.

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