TWO lucky walkers are recovering after a dramatic rescue from a 3,200ft mountain.

And their four-legged friends played a crucial role in the men’s escape from the snow-covered peaks.

A four-hour search of Snowdon’s Ogwen valley for a 29-year-old man from Mancot and a 45-year-old man from Bwlchgwyn proved fruitless until rescuers stumbled on fresh paw prints made by the men’s three dogs.

The prints led the rescue party to the walkers’ position after they had called for help saying they were “somewhere on the Carneddau Range”.

Chris Lloyd, a spokesman for Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team, said the search was like looking for a “needle in a haystack”. He said: “The men set off at midday on Sunday.

“Half an hour later their map blew away and they carried on and got lost in cloud.

“At 4.30pm they telephoned to say they were lost. They contacted us via the police.

“They did not know where they were. They did not have a clue and it was hard to get an idea. It was a bit of a mystery.”

The light was fading fast as rescuers fanned out across several mountains with half an inch of snow falling in 30 minutes, low cloud and no idea where to look.

Rescuers found the men in the darkness on Foel Grach after one sharp-eyed team member saw the dog tracks.

Mr Lloyd said: “We had 20 people deployed out on the ridges. One of the team found fresh paw prints and asked if they had any dogs with them .

“We found them soon afterwards at 8.30pm.

“One of the men was reasonably well clothed, with good boots, but the other was not. Having lost the map they should have turned back. It shows once again the importance of having the right equipment.

"They were glad to be reunited with the footpath. We advised them on the error of their ways.”

He added: “I would describe their actions as thoughtless.”

Roland Leyland, from the Search and Rescue Dog Association, said three association dogs joined the search but were not with the team which found the men.

He said: “The search area was quite big. The rescuer who saw the paw prints was very clue-aware. Three paw prints is not something you see that frequently on a mountain.”