A FALLER was airlifted to hospital from the peak of Croagh Patrick after he was luckily spotted by rescuers as they went to the aid of another man.
A walker travelling down the Co Mayo mountain had alerted emergency services that he could spot a man lying on the ground far behind him.
Mayo Mountain Rescue Team discovered the man, who was in his 30s, had fallen close to the summit in an area known as the 'bad bend'. He had suffered cuts to the head.
However, rescuers then spotted a second man, in his 40s, around 30 metres higher up who had suffered leg injuries.
Both men were taken to Castlebar General Hospital.
A spokesman for the rescue team, Mark McNamara, said conditions on the mountain were slippery due to the recent change in weather conditions.
"There was cloud cover on that section of the mountain so visibility was poor," he said. "It occurred in a black spot where a lot of injuries happen – around 100 metres from the summit."
The rescues came as a new report said that the holy mountain needs a €1.5m investment to stem "severe erosion" along its treacherous pathways.
Some 30,000 pilgrims will climb 765-metre mountain this weekend during the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage, where patron saint Patrick fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in 441AD.
The pilgrim pathway, which traverses sites of archaeological and cultural significance, leads to a small oratory at the top.
Increased traffic in recent years has swelled visitor numbers to 100,000 a year.
But a report by Mountaineering Ireland warns that erosion is of "major concern".
"The erosion created on this mountain is of such a scale and is so severe that only a large- scale intervention could have any impact on it," it says.
However, author Elfyn Jones, who works with the British Mountaineering Council, said it was unlikely that increased traffic on the mountain was "a major factor in the erosion of the paths".