British teen climbs mountain in Superman underwear, gets hypothermia at summit
Nathan French, who was dressed only in Superman underwear for the climb, was raising money for the Dementia UK charity in honour of his grandmother.world Updated: Sep 19, 2017 15:41 IST
People planning to climb Snowdon are being urged to dress appropriately after a teenager developed hypothermia after hiking up the mountain in just his underwear.
An ambulance crew were called after 19-year-old Nathan French from Halewood in Merseyside completed the 1,085-metre climb of the highest mountain in Wales but became unwell at the summit.
French, who was dressed only in Superman underwear for the climb, was raising money for the Dementia UK charity in honour of his grandmother, who has the condition.
Emergency services were called to treat the student after became unwell while taking the train back down from the summit.
Paramedics discovered his blood sugar and blood pressure had dropped and he was beginning to suffer from hypothermia.
Miles Hill of Llanberis mountain rescue team said the outcome could have been much worse.
He said: “While we are sympathetic to his charity fundraising for a very worthy cause, we would question the planning and perseverance which went into his day on the hill.”
Hill said that, even at the height of summer, the summit of Snowdon could be 10C colder than Llanberis, the village at its base, even before any adverse weather is factored in.
A 10-point checklist for how to avoid the need to be rescued has been put together by the rescue team on its website, which Hill said he encouraged anyone considering the climb to read.
He said: “Anybody walking in the mountains should always carry enough equipment, clothing and food to be self-sufficient for the duration of their trip, including adverse changes in weather.”
“Even with temperatures in the teens, with minimal clothing Mr French would have been highly susceptible to wind chill.”
“If the train hadn’t been running from the summit, the outcome could have been very different. While charity events in your kecks are commendable, it’s not a trend we want to see started.”
Hill pointed out that Llanberis mountain rescue is also a charity.
He said: “As a rescue team, we are sometimes called to individuals and groups taking part in charity events who haven’t realised that we ourselves are a charity, and our volunteers have left their loved ones at home in order to help.”
He added: “We hope Mr French is back in the mountains soon, perhaps in the full suit (cape optional), rather than just the underwear.”
'I'm on that superman shit' pic.twitter.com/tRONyZumlJ— Nathan French (@Nathan_French7) September 10, 2017
French, who is studying sport, nutrition and health at university, said: “I climbed the mountain successfully and it was when I was at the top I was shaking uncontrollably.”
He said that he was given tickets for the Snowden mountain railway to get back down, but it was when he was on the train that he started to feel sick.
“I started to go deaf and my sight started to go funny. It was at this point my dad decided to ring for help.”
A paramedic met them at the bottom and said the student’s blood sugar had dropped and he was showing the early signs of hypothermia.
French said he has received a number of negative comments on social media since his misadventure on 9 September.
These, he believes, are unfair because he was not rescued but made it down the mountain without help.
“I was with the paramedic for no longer than 20 minutes. He said I wasn’t wasting his time at all and he actually saw the humour in it. So I haven’t cost any money to the emergency services at all.”
He added: “There are lads my age robbing and into drugs and violence, and I’m out there doing something big for something that matters and I get the hate.”
More than £1,300 has been donated to French’s JustGiving page since his climb.
(Published in arrangement with The Guardian)