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SAS team save dying climber stranded on Himalayan peak

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SAS team save dying climber stranded on Himalayan peak

Postby Marty369 » Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:18 am

from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, ... 88,00.html

SAS team save dying climber stranded on Himalayan peak
Michael Smith

A BRITISH special forces team attempting the “seven summits” challenge — conquering the highest mountain on every continent — has rescued an Italian climber who was stranded and facing death at nearly 24,000ft in the Himalayas.
The five-man team of climbers from the SAS, the SBS and the TA unit 23 SAS, were climbing in the Himalayas, preparing for their ascent of Everest, when they came across Roberto Marabotto, an experienced climber and an instructor with the Italian Alpine Club.



Marabotto was on his own at 23,950ft on Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest peak, suffering from acute mountain sickness. He had not eaten for three days and was unable to move.

The British soldiers got him down to Camp 2, about 1,000ft lower, where they fed him, erected a tent and kept him overnight, a source said.

“The next day they did a casualty evacuation and had to take him down the mountain across a sheer ice face and abseiling at some points to Camp 1,” the source said.

Marabotto is a 41-year-old married teacher of mentally disabled children who lives in Cuneo, 40 miles south of Turin.This weekend he talked about the rescue, explaining that he was debilitated and could not move.

“The main problem was with my physical condition,” Marabotto said. “I was really drained of energy and the British soldiers helped me to get down, step by step.

“They helped me down the two glaciers . . . using fixed ropes and by staying with me and walking with me all the time. They also had to give me some oxygen to get me to Camp 1.”

Two colleagues, an Italian and a Spaniard, had themselves been forced to go down the mountain several days earlier after falling ill.

Determined to reach the summit, Marabotto had stayed on the mountain and attempted to reach the 26,905ft peak with an Italian colleague. But the cold forced them back to Camp 3.

Marabotto spent several days at Camp 3, still intent on getting to the summit. But eventually after a second attempt failed and having not eaten for several days, he set off back down the mountain.

He was not far above Camp 2 but was unable to move and had been passed by a number of teams when he was found by the British special forces, who were training as part of their attempt on the seven summits.

“These boys gave a big demonstration of the real Alpinistic spirit,” Marabotto said.

“They helped me without knowing me and they always did it smiling. In my life I will meet a lot of other people, but I will never forget these wonderful guys.”

Marabotto insisted on buying them dinner in Kathmandu for saving his life. “They told me they were members of British armed forces, but not about the seven summits. I wish them the biggest good luck possible, not only for climbing, but for their own lives.”

The Britons were climbing Cho Oyu — Tibetan for Turquoise Goddess — in preparation for Everest, the next summit they will attempt, having already climbed Elbrus in Russia, McKinley in Alaska, Aconcagua in Argentina and Kilimanjaro in Kenya. The last two of the seven summits challenge are Vinson Massif in Antarctica and the Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea.

The team leader, a serving SAS officer who is also the commanding officer of 23 SAS, had previous experience of a dramatic rescue, having led the 1994 operation to find a group of British soldiers lost in the Borneo jungle.

The team is undertaking the climbing challenge between tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, a source said.

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