How Search and Rescue Teams Conduct High Altitude Rescues

1280px Mount Everest

Have you ever wondered how exactly a search and rescue team conducts a high altitude rescue? After all, when you get above a certain altitude it isn’t always safe to use helicopters and a certain point, it can even become dangerous for the rescuers themselves. And yet, nearly every year we hear about a rescue operation being conducted somewhere in the Himalaya, with selfless climbers doing whatever they can to safely bring stranded mountaineers down from perilous heights.

National Geographic has published an article that includes a video of just how these operations are conducted, and as you can imagine it isn’t easy. It takes training, dedication, the proper gear, and plenty of guts. In the thin air of the Himalaya, there is little room for error and yet it seems that these types of rescue operations are becoming more frequent, particularly as more people flock to Everest and other big peaks in the region.

In this story, Nat Geo introduces us to Chhirring Dhenduk Bhote, who was born in east Nepal not far from Kangchenjunga and Makalu. Bhote has become well known in his country’s SAR community, conducting 21 of the 35 long-line rescue operations that have taken place in Nepal since 2008. During those types of missions the rescue helicopter is unable to land at the site and rescuers must instead rappel down to where they are needed. As the article points out, they aren’t always fast enough and sometimes their rescue operation becomes a recovery one instead.

The article, and especially the video, a fairly eye-opening, giving us a glimpse of what takes place during a high altitude rescue. This is what happens when a climber finds him or herself in trouble on one of these big mountains, and needs to be retrieved and taken safely back down. It is a dangerous job to say the least, but thankfully someone is there to do it.

Check out the entire story here.

Kraig Becker