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Snow danger even for cyclists

"Stranded English teens rescued from Santiago pilgrim route
By: thinkSPAIN

Two 19 year old English cyclists were rescued from the Camino de Santiago in the nick of time last night as both were found to be suffering from severe hypothermia. One was so badly affected that he was unable to respond to basic physical stimuli and could not speak.

The two lads were found on the stretch of the pilgrim path that runs between the towns of San Juan de Pie de Puerto in France and Roncesvalles in Navarra.

With temperatures just above freezing, at an altitude of nearly 1,500 metres and in gale-force winds, the two lads were found shivering inside their sleeping bags that were soaking wet as a result of the recently-fallen snow.

After phoning for help shortly before 8pm last night, the two youngsters were admitted to a health centre in San Juan de Pie de Puerto some three hours later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 "
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Firemen near Roncesvalles rescue two pilgrims with hypotherm

Today- DIARIO DE NAVARRA- Pamplona
Only in Spanish.-

Los bomberos rescatan cerca de Roncesvalles a dos peregrinos con hipotermia
- Eran ingleses de 19 años; uno de ellos no podía hablar y el otro se encontraba grave
DN . PAMPLONA Miércoles, 23 de abril de 2008 - 04:00 h.Los bomberos de Burguete rescataron el l unes a dos peregrinos ingleses de 19 años que recorrían en bicicleta el Camino de Santiago en unas condiciones climáticas muy adversas. Uno de ellos sufría una hipotermia severa (no reaccionaba a los estímulos ni podía hablar) y su compañero se encontraba en estado grave, también por hipotermia.

El rescate ocurrió en el tramo comprendido entre San Juan de Pie de Puerto (Francia) y Roncesvalles, después de que la Agencia Navarra de Emergencias movilizara sobre las 19.49 horas a los bomberos por una llamada en la que se alertaba de que dos jóvenes británicos que recorrían el Camino de Santiago se hallaban en mal estado. Según informó ayer el Ejecutivo foral, los efectivos acudieron en su auxilio montados en un todoterreno y en una ambulancia. Esta última, debido a las malas condiciones de los caminos, sólo pudo llegar hasta el collado de Lepoeder.

Kilómetros más adelante, tampoco el vehículo todoterreno pudo avanzar por las pistas, por lo que los bomberos prosiguieron el camino a pie, hasta que localizaron en la zona de Bentartea a los dos jóvenes, que se habían metido en unos sacos empapados por la nieve que caía en el lugar, a unos 1.450 metros de altitud. La temperatura rondaba el grado centígrado y reinaba un fuerte viento, según la nota del Gobierno foral. En el momento de ser localizados, uno de los jóvenes no reaccionaba a los estímulos ni podía hablar y su compañero, estaba grave.

Debido al mal estado que presentaban, un bombero retrocedió hasta donde estaba aparcado el todoterreno y logró regresar con él hasta el lugar en que se encontraban sus compañeros.

Una vez estabilizados, a las 23 horas, los efectivos trasladaron a los peregrinos hasta el centro de salud de San Juan de Pie de Puerto. En labores de búsqueda de los jóvenes, además de los bomberos de Burguete, también participaron inicialmente los servicios de rescate de Francia.
Firemen near Roncesvalles rescue two pilgrims with hypotherm

Google english translation

Firefighters rescued near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hypothermia
-- They were Englishmen of 19 years; one of them could not speak and another was seriously
DN. Pamplona Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - 04:00 h.Los firefighters rescued the Burguete l unes two 19-year-old British pilgrims who travelled by bicycle the Road to Santiago in some very adverse weather conditions. One of them suffered from severe hypothermia (not responsive to stimuli or could speak) and his companion was in serious condition, also by hypothermia.

The rescue occurred on the stretch between San Juan de Puerto Pie (France) and Roncesvalles, after the Agency Navarre emergency mobilize about 19.49 am to firefighters by a call in which he warned that two young British walked the Camino de Santiago were in poor condition. As reported yesterday by the Executive foral, the troops turned out in their distress mounted on a jeep and an ambulance. The latter, due to bad road conditions, could only reach the hill of Lepoeder.

Miles later, neither the vehicle SUV could move through the tracks, so firefighters continued the journey on foot, until he located in the area Bentartea the two youths, who had been involved in some sacks soaked by the snow fell into place, about 1,450 metres above sea level. The temperature was around degree centigrade and a strong wind prevailed, according to the note of the Government foral. At the time of being localized, one of the youths did not react to stimuli and could speak and his partner, was serious.

Due to poor condition presenting a firefighter fell far was parked the SUV and was able to return with him to the place where they were peers.

Once stabilized, at 23 hours, the troops moved to the pilgrims to the health center of San Juan de Puerto Pie. In search of work youth, as well as firefighters Burguete, also participated initially rescue services in France.


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Re: The firemen rescue near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hipot ... ge_id=1770

Teenagers trapped in Pyrenees snowstorm rescued after making SOS phone call home
By BEN CLERKIN - More by this author » Last updated at 00:47am on 24th April 2008

Two British teenagers on a religious pilgrimage to the Pyrenees were rescued from a dangerous mountain path after making an SOS phone call home to their parents. The pair, both 19, came close to succumbing to hypothermia during a snowstorm on the French-Spanish border, close to a spot where another Englishman died.
Edward Broad and a friend who has not been named were forced to huddle shivering in sleeping bags after being caught out by the suddenness of the storm. But they raised the alarm by phoning their parents in Wimbledon, South-West London, from the isolated area on the French-Spanish border. Emergency services from France and Spain fought through the treacherous conditions to find them on Tuesday.
The young men had to spend a night in hospital but were released yesterday to continue their bicycling pilgrimage to the northern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The route, known as the Camino, has been travelled by Christians since medieval times.
A spokesman for the clinic in St Jean Pied de Port, in France, where they were treated, said: "When they arrived here they were in a very bad way, but both are young and they were treated swiftly and efficiently."
The teenagers, who are Christians, were on a three-week trip. Edward's mother Margaret said her son had called her from the mountainside and told her not to worry. "He told me everything was fine but I was obviously extremely concerned," she said.
"My son's friend had called his parents who had called the police. I knew the emergency services were doing their best to reach them but I was still really worried, as any mother would be.
"There is a certain feeling of helplessness when you're stuck in Wimbledon."
The area where the pair got into trouble, at 4,000ft, is close to the spot where City banker Chris Phillips, 50, was caught in a blizzard a year ago. He died later in hospital.
Michelle B did the correct thing

This Michelle B writing from Arca along the Camino in Spain. I have
been on the road for two weeks and I am one day away from Santiago.
I read the report that you sent out about the two cyclists caught in
the storm. I as well was suppose to ride a bike and was going to
leave St. Jean the same day the two who got hurt left. There was
also an American woman who was hurt on the pass, and I have no idea
what happened to her. I will say that for whomever goes on the
camino it is very important to listen to the reports.

So, I had to wait out the storm in Bayonne, France for three days
and then decided to take the camino by foot for the two weeks I had
left. Of course I was not able to do the whole thing but I will say
that the camino is beautiful and beyond words how special the trip
has been.

Buen Camino!
Michelle B
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Re: The firemen rescue near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hipot

I was fortunate enough to meet these young men, Ed and Will, on April 29th at Albergue Viatoris in Sahagun. We shared an evening meal together along with a Dutch cyclist, Gerrit . This is a link to a photo that I took the following morning as they were about to hit the trail for the day. In the photo left to right are Ed, Will, myself and Gerrit.


New Member
Re: The firemen rescue near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hipot

Thanks to all for the wealth of information on this incident. Ed and Will were very lucky young men or else the angels were out and about that evening. Kudos also go to the Spanish and French rescuers. We are so blessed by the support we receive when we travel the camino.

Bill Beahen
Ottawa, Canada


Veteran Member
Re: The firemen rescue near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hipot

Young men believe they are invincible!

Over the years, I've been a hiker out in severe weather and already in a shelter during a blizzard where I cautioned youthful hikers NOT to continue. But rather than wait out the storm, or at least consider remaining at the shelter as it was known to rescue teams in the area...they pushed on!

The youth believe they MUST move forward and stay on their schedule, because staying back or at least waiting for the storm to clear is somehow not manly.

On two specific occasions, I strongly suggested the young hikers remain and when they didn't I went with them to shadow their progress. On the first, it was possible to guide them down to safety. On the second, we recovered two...badly frostbitten and suffering...with the third in their party already succumbed to the elements.

Please, always check ahead, especially if there are communications with the next town or albergue. There's NO excuse for not knowing what you'll face ahead. The Camino, with few exceptions, is a civilized track with plenty of assistance if needed. Check ahead!


Edd Broad

New Member
Re: The firemen rescue near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hipot

Dear all,

As one of the pair trapped on that mountain, I was alerted to this thread by one of the previous posters, Dale, a fellow pilgrim, who my friend Will and I met in Sahagun. Whilst I don't generally wish to bring attention to this terrifying event in my life, I decided that for those reading the forum who wished to cycle and may be put off by our tale, I needed to put them at ease.

Firstly, continuing up the mountain considering the conditions was not an act of bravado or 'show of manliness' on either of our part. As a medical student, it is clear to me that our health and well-being is the most important part of the whole trip, and to think that I would risk such things for the sake of my pride is ridiculous.

Secondly, on seeing the weather that afternoon, I decided to take the advice and direction of the people of St Jean Pied de Port. At the time of setting off, there was absolutely no evidence that things would turn out the way that they did, and we got the green light to continue. Problems simply arose when we were at altitude. As any experienced climber will tell you, weather at altitude can change in a matter of minutes, as it did when we were up there. Low cloud swept in, and we suddenly became faced with a 50-60 mph headwind. At this point, it was clear to me that we were in trouble, and, although hypothermia was beginning to set in, we hunkered down, out of the wind, in our sleeping bags with my emergency blanket around my friend, huddled for warmth. We remained this way until we were rescued.

Finally, I appreciate that the only source of information that people have on this event is that which is portrayed in the media, but the information is badly diluted and blown out of proportion. 1) Yes, we were suffering from Stage 2 hypothermia, but my friend was able to respond to all basic physical stimuli, and showed no signs of any form of severe CNS suppression. He was not well, by any stretch of the imagination, but the suggestion that he was but seconds from death is media speculation and utterly wrong. Also for the record, few of the rest of the details provided by the media were accurate. There was no helicopter rescue, I was able to walk into the clinic, there was no snow at the top of the mountain, my mother's name isn't Margaret, she refused to speak to the presses, and as a result all of her 'quotations' are fabricated, and we were not lost, I knew our exact location, allowing us to be efficiently rescued.

My many many thanks go out to the fire crew that brought us off the mountainside that evening, the support we got from them, and the people of the clinic in St Jean was outstanding.

And finally, anyone who is reading this, thinking about doing the Camino by bike, I can thoroughly recommend it. It is one of the greatest trips I have ever undertaken, and I truely believe it was a life-changing journey.

Thank you for reading,


Nunca se camina solo
Re: The firemen rescue near Roncesvalles two pilgrims with hipot

Thanks Ed. Of course conditions can change at altitude and clearly you took all the necessary measures. Tell us more about the rest of your Camino!
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