RESCUE ON RUPAL FACE

Slovenian Tomaz Humar was arguably the world’s best alpinist climber before he died in 2009 on a mountain named Langtang Lirung.  But already in 2005 he had a close call on Nanga Parbat when he was trapped by avalanches on the notorious, then unclimbed, Rupal Face at approximately 6000 meters.

After six days a lone Pakistani army pilot flew his totally stripped down Lama to Humar’s position. He gambled that Humar would be able to clip into a dynamic climbing rope hanging from the helicopter, in order to be lifted off the mountain.

And he did. Humar, exhausted and with frostbitten hands managed to clip the rope into his harness. Unfortunately his hands were too numb to unclip from his ice-anchor on the rock face.  The Pakistani pilot wasn’t aware of Humar not being able to undo his anchor point and tried to fly away from the face.

Look closely at the video below. You will see how Humar’s anchor is ripped out after the helicopter put extreme tension to the dynamic rope system. And you can see how Humar is sent bungeeing towards the helicopter and just barely misses it.

A very close call. If the ice-anchor hadn’t ripped, the light helicopter could easily have been pulled into the rock face and crashed. The climbing rope was tied to the undercarriage of the helicopter and there was no way for the pilot to cut it.

Humar’s attempt on Rupal Face was very controversial. So was the rescue. The incident and the controversy are described in more detail in an article in National Geographic.

 

 

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