Humar Saved By Helicopter

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Safe at last, Tomaz Humar staggers away from his rescue helicopter.Photos courtesy of

Tomaz Humar was plucked from his perch on the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat by a Pakistani Army helicopter in a dramatic and rare instance of modern “short-haul” rescue at high altitude. The Slovenian alpinist had been trapped for nearly a week atop a tiny snow arête at 19,400 feet, about one-third of the way up the Rupal Face, on which he was attempting a solo new route. Humar had aborted his climb at around 21,300 feet in very poor conditions, and after three miserable and dangerous bivouacs he had descended to the snow arête, which was somewhat sheltered from the nearly constant snow slides. There he spent another five nights, unable to descend because of storm and snow conditions, as his teammates in basecamp attempted to arrange a helicopter.

Two Pakistani Lama helicopters and a fuel chopper arrived yesterday, August 9, but were unable to approach the face because of storm clouds. This morning, just after dawn, the Pakistanis returned to basecamp and then flew toward Humar, dragging an improvised haul system of knotted climbing rope with a makeshift seat attached. Humar anchored himself loosely to an ice screw so we wouldn’t fall as he reached for the rescue rope, and successfully managed to grab the rope as it swung toward him from the helicopter hovering next to the icy wall. He climbed on and was pulled from the face, apparently ripping loose the anchor that he had forgotten to unclip. After a short ride back to basecamp, Humar was lowered to the ground and into the arms of his companions. He is exhausted and has not eaten for days, but does not seem to have suffered serious injury or frostbite.

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Tomaz Humar poses with his Pakistani Army saviors.Photos courtesy of

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