‘Caves are the last frontier,’ says a seasoned explorer on maintaining his composure during tense rescue missions.
Gary Mitchell knows his way around the earth’s underground network after more than 25 years of caving.
Many of us might be terrified at the prospect of being trapped in an underground network of stone crevices, some of which are so narrow that they can only be navigated by crawling face down.
However, for Gary Mitchell, an incident in the Brecon Beacons earlier this month that made headlines was just another day at his outdoor office.
Hundreds of people assisted in the rescue of a man who had become trapped in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave network.
Mitchell, however, the warden of the South and Mid-Wales Cave Rescue Team, was instrumental.
The 47-year-old father-of-two was one of the first to arrive on the scene after being alerted to the plight of a fellow caver trapped in one of the UK’s longest underground systems.
He became the incident controller, overseeing a 54-hour rescue mission.
George Linnane, a seasoned cave explorer, was safely brought back to the surface after a long and arduous operation.
In a fall, the 38-year-old’s leg, jaw, and chest were severely injured.
However, he has lived to tell the tale thanks to Mitchell and the tight-knit caving community.
“We knew this was going to be a significant, drawn-out rescue right from the word go,” Mr Mitchell says of the description given by Mark [another caver who was with Mr Linnane at the time].
“The cave was 90 minutes to two hours away from the nearest entrance in terms of normal caving time.”
“However, the injuries that George sustained were severe enough that we were unable to exit that entrance because it is extremely tight, filthy, small, and twisty.”
Cavers, on the other hand, “keep our cool in most circumstances,” according to Mr Mitchell, who seems unfazed by the whole thing.
It’s not even the most high-profile or difficult rescue he’s ever attempted.
He traveled to Thailand in 2019 to assist in the rescue of 12 boys and their football coach who had been trapped underground for more than two weeks.
Mr Mitchell, from Staylittle, Powys, was drafted in as the assistant chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, an umbrella organization.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy.
‘Caves are the last frontier,’ says a seasoned explorer, describing how he keeps his cool during tense rescue missions.