2010: Highest High-Altitude Helicopter Rescue

Daniel Aufdenblatten

Helicopter rescues off Mount Everest have become a too-frequent occurrence during the frenetic spring climbing season, but the highest-ever rescue took place on Nepal’s 26,545-foot Annapurna, the world’s tenth-highest peak. On April 29, 2010, due to a horrific storm, three Spanish climbers were stranded at 22,900 feet.

Unable to land on the inhospitable terrain, the Swiss pilot, Capt. Daniel Aufdenblatten, dropped a long line from his AS 350 B3 helicopter. Swiss mountain guide Richard Lehner hung on to it, helping to guide the climbers below. Then Aufdenblatten flew each climber to safety, to base camp, 9,000 feet below. The duo was later awarded the “Heroism Award,” the aviation world’s equivalent of an Oscar.

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