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Dublin: 15°C Tuesday 19 October 2021

Rescuers warn against 'snow tourism' as mountain routes remain closed in Wicklow

Mountain rescue teams are reminding people to heed warnings and come prepared.

A NUMBER OF people have had to abandon their cars in the Wicklow Mountains in recent days amid heavy snow and poor conditions. 

AA Roadwatch have reported that a number of mountain routes are closed this morning, including the Wicklow Gap (R756) and the Old Military Road (R115) between the Sally Gap and Glencree.

John Kavanagh of Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Rescue confirmed that the Old Military Road (R115) and Sally Gap (R759) are the “problem areas” in Dublin and Wicklow.

The roads are not on Wicklow County Council’s road treatment plan, Kavanagh told TheJournal.ie. ”They don’t get treated, so they tend to become very hazardous, and that’s the case up there at the moment.

The rescue team’s last call out was on Wednesday, for a number of tourists who were stuck up near Lough Bray. 

“The road is actually closed at the moment, between Glencree and the Sally Gap Cross, because of very long stretches of sheet ice, and the road is completely impassable.”

A number of people had to be evacuated from their cars. Gardaí were on the scene first, and the mountain rescue team joined to help those who were not confident walking down on their own. 

Kavanagh said: 

We did take two people out in stretchers – they weren’t injured – but just for their own safety.

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The main reason for people getting stuck is ice, rather than snow. “It’s not like people are getting stuck in snow; it’s just traction on the ground with sheet ice,”Kavanagh said. 

“We would always request that people heed the warning. Those two roads get a lot of traffic, especially from snow tourists; people who want to go up the mountains to see the snow.”

We get that, it is very pretty up there when it snows but it is very dangerous. It puts our team members at risk; we’re all volunteers. We will respond to rescue people in a vehicle who get stuck, but we’d rather people didn’t get stuck in the first place. 

Kavanagh reminded people to bring extra clothing, a sleeping bag, a thermos of tea, food, and to make sure they have a fully charged mobile phone before heading into the mountains, only sticking to routes that are passable. 

Andy Noonan was on Old Military Road, near the Sally Gap, last night, where he saw about five or six cars “abandoned on the road on that stretch,” he told TheJournal.ie. 

“The rest of Old Military Road from that point to the Sally Gap is impassable, with massive snow drifts blocking the road,” he said. 

It’s way too dangerous to drive on that stretch for anybody.”

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