Mountain rescue at Nanga Parbat

Tactical Frog

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2016
Messages
1,434
Likes
1,950
Country flag
https://www.dawn.com/news/1386027

OVER the weekend, we all witnessed one of the most dramatic mountain rescues of all times when a two-member climbing team on Nanga Parbat, one of the most dangerous peaks for mountaineers, ran into serious difficulties at an altitude above 7,000m and called for help. The rescue effort required flying in a team of four highly capable climbers from an expedition on K2, some 180km away, to a drop-off point at 4,900m on the slopes of Nanga Parbat. Two members from that team then managed to climb a one-kilometre-high wall of ice in record time at night and in the depth of winter to safely evacuate one of the climbers in distress. Sadly, the other climber, whose condition was stated to be critical and who was lying in a tent more than 1000m above where the rescue took place, had to be left behind due to deteriorating weather conditions. The heroic mission carried out by the Polish and Russian climbers in the rescue team is an inspiring example of the feats of superhuman endurance that mountaineers are capable of, as well as the exceptional technical skill that was required to make it happen.

It is unfortunate, however, that a controversy erupted over the effort when people learned that the aviation wing of the Pakistan Army demanded payment guarantee for the use of the helicopters before undertaking the flights that were necessary to transport the rescue team. In fact, upfront guarantees for such flights are always a precondition for helicopter evacuation for mountaineers, even in Nepal, the other country that has peaks as formidable as Pakistan’s. Expeditions are told this before their permits are issued and are made to sign an undertaking agreeing to this condition. They have the option to leave a refundable deposit with the authorities, but even then there could be additional charges if the logistics of the rescue demand more flights. Given the altitudes they work at, and the kind of risks that mountaineers take — from potentially falling into a crevasse to facing avalanches, to experiencing altitude sickness, equipment failure or inclement weather — no authority can guarantee their safety and free evacuation. The mountaineering community knows this better than those raising the controversy, and does not complain in situations like this. The controversy should not cloud the triumph of the will over the unimaginable adversity that we all just witnessed.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2018
 

Tactical Frog

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2016
Messages
1,434
Likes
1,950
Country flag
We could have saved Tomek.” With this sentence, the French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol has triggered a debate. Could her Polish rope partner Tomek Mackiewicz still be alive, whom, suffering from severe high altitude sickness and slowblindness after their summit success on Nanga Parbat, she had had to leave at 7,200 meters, if the rescue at the end of January had started faster? On the late evening of 25 January, Revol had made several emergency calls. “It’s a race against the clock when you set off a rescue,” Elisabeth said at a press conference in Chamonix on Wednesday. “It took, in fact, 48 hours for something to happen. So clearly I have a lot of anger inside of me – and Tomek could have been saved if it had been a real rescue carried out in time and organized.”

The anger of the 37-year-old is expressively directed neither against the climbers of the Polish K2 winter expedition, who had ascended in high speed and brought her back to safety, nor against the helicopter pilots, but against the Pakistani organizers of the rescue operation. Ludovic Giambiasi, a friend of Revol, had tried from France to launch the search for the two climbers in distress. He spoke of “delays and problems”. So the price was forced up from $ 15,000 to $ 40,000, “cash, on the table”, said Ludovic. According to their own information, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan province has set up a commission to investigate the allegations.

Compared to Nepal, where helicopter rescue from the highest mountains is privately organized and now works with Western support quite professionally, Pakistan still lags behind. The Pakistani military has been strictly controlling the air traffic in the Northern Areas due to the tensions with India lasting for decades. Rescue Operations are conducted by Askari Aviation, a subsidiary of the Army Welfare Trust. The helicopters are provided by the army and flown by former air force pilots. For a rescue on the long rope from heights above 7,000 meters, as it is now practiced almost routinely on Mount Everest, the gutted special helicopters, used in Nepal, are missing as well as the staff specializing in this dangerous way of rescue. In 2005, a Pakistani helicopter team succeeded in bringing the Slovenian top climber Tomaz Humar on the rope from 6,000 meters in the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat down to safety. However, such operations are not routine in Pakistan. Expeditions, whose members have been running in great difficulties, are explicitly required by Askari Aviaton to make an effort to bring the climbers down to a safe height for helicopter landing below 5,500 meter.


http://blogs.dw.com/adventuresports/nanga-parbat-revols-anger-after-the-rescue/


Hmm. What kind of helicopter Nepalese use for operations above 7,000 m ?
 

Latest Replies

Global Defence

Articles

Top