Two remarkable rescues

Talk about international affairs . . . an American base jumper has been rescued in Switzerland, and a Swiss climber has been rescued – via America – in Austria!

First, the American.

An American basejumper has been rescued from a cliff in Switzerland after hanging by his parachute from a rockface for 13 hours.

The 21-year-old from Florida was base jumping on Sunday near the Shilthorn cable car in Lauterbrunnen — a popular area for the sport due to its sheer cliffs — when a jump went wrong, reported the Berner Zeitung on Tuesday.

After jumping, he opened his parachute early and was pushed in the wrong direction by the wind and slammed into the cliff, ending up hanging by his parachute 500 metres above the ground, said the paper.

At 9pm a Swiss Alpine Club rescue team and an Air Glacier helicopter was dispatched to the scene, but the difficulty of the terrain and the basejumper’s position on the rock made for a complicated rescue.

The only way to reach him was to climb down 200 metres from the top of the cliff, an operation that took two climbers seven hours.

. . .

In his current position, there was a risk that the air produced by the helicopter’s blades could have dislodged the parachute that was keeping him from falling to the ground, rescuers told the paper.

He was finally extracted from his predicament at 7am and flown to hospital.

There’s more at the link.

Next, the Swiss.

A hiker trapped in the Austrian mountains was rescued after sending an SOS to the American makers of a GPS device who then sent it back around the world to the local mountain rescue team.

The 40-year-old Swiss hiker had fallen 15 metres while climbing in the Lungau region of Austria and had become trapped.

The hiker had a GPS device on him and was able to send an SOS message to the makers of the equipment in America.

They then contacted the foreign ministry in Vienna who passed on the emergency message and the GPS location of the hiker to mountain rescue services in Lungau.

Thanks to sending the SOS thousands of miles around the world, the hiker could be saved by emergency services.

Bad weather meant a helicopter could not find the man, so a climber from the rescue team had to scale the mountain to reach him. The hiker was brought to the nearest mountain hut and then on to hospital to be treated for chest injuries and abrasions to his body.

Again, more at the link.

It sounds like he was using an EPIRB, or personal locator beacon.  They’re becoming an invaluable adjunct to any sport out in the back of beyond – I have several friends who use them on hunting, climbing and hiking trips in Alaska, the Rockies and elsewhere.  Miss D. tells me that every EPIRB in the world links back to a monitoring service at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, from where instructions are transmitted to rescuers around the globe.

I think both men are very fortunate to be alive.



  1. A save is a save… And I hope the base jumper got charged for his rescue! The climber? Good on him! 🙂

  2. People who buy them end up deciding to take risks they otherwise wouldn't. They should be have to pay the costs for their extractions.

  3. I'd guess it was a SPOT. I carry one, although it stays in the car mostly. I used it any time I was out photographing – a solitary ocupation – often in the wilderness.

  4. And who pays for those idiots to be rescued? Public funds. I have an idea. Anyone who wants to climb El capitan or do similar idiotic things has to sign a waiver. They PAY for the rescue. Not the public

  5. At least here in Austria you – or your sports insurance – gets charged for the helicopter flight time and the time of the rescue team.

    Its usually a bad wake up call for the real idiots out there when they get presented with a bill over multiple thousands of EUR.

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