“Don’t let the weather fool you” – advises Order of Malta Ireland Westport Unit to Reek Sunday Climbers.
The Order of Malta Westport Unit marks 74 years protecting Reek Sunday Pilgrims and urges caution ahead of the climb this weekend
Ahead of Sunday’s centuries-old Reek Sunday pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo, Order of Malta Westport Unit has urged the expected 15,000 pilgrims to take necessary precautions.
Since 1943, Order of Malta, Westport have co-ordinated the rescue and emergency services as pilgrims travel from Ireland and overseas to climb the 2,500ft holy mountain. In 1940’s numbers of pilgrims were a couple of thousand, this has risen in recent years, with 25,000 pilgrims expected this weekend, some doing the climb in bare feet.
Order of Malta Westport has carried out its operations alongside the Mayo Mountain Rescue Team since 1997. The Mayo Mountain Rescue Team have noted that already this year, their number of call outs have increased on the same period last year, with the majority being on the Holy Mountain.
Keelan Moran, spokesperson from Order of Malta said:
“Extreme caution is urged upon all climbers given the dangers posed by the climb. The Order of Malta are stressing the importance that climbers are suitably equipped for all weather, regardless of ground conditions. It is imperative that suitable footwear be worn, along with warm clothes and rain gear, as well as sun protection. All climbers should also bring a plentiful supply of water and snacks, while extra care must be taken with children on the mountain. Just because it has been sunny on the ground it is not necessarily the case up the top of the mountain”.
Following the unprecedented events of the 2015 pilgrimage which saw all events cancelled due to the extreme weather conditions, we also ask that all climbers take note of and heed all advice given by volunteers at the base and on the mountain. As this is such a large scale and unpredictable event, planning has been taking place for months and all involved are keen to ensure the safety of all climbers.
The safety of climbers could not be protected to such high and professional standards without the co-operation of many organisations, all of whom deserve a special mention and thanks. The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps provide over 120 volunteers from throughout the country, while Mountain Rescue Ireland have up to 100 volunteers on the day, with both organisations assisted by Civil Defence teams, the Irish Air Corps, An Garda Siochana, Mayo County Council, the Murrisk Development Association and Church Authorities.
It is an extensive operation, encompassing a medical treatment unit in the local National School which assesses and treats all patients on the day, 4 fully crewed ambulances, 2 First Aid Posts and a Medical Tent on the mountain as well as communication and welfare services.
Pilgrims are reminded to ask any of the authorities or volunteers for advice before or during the climb, but most importantly, safe climbing and enjoy it to all taking part!