Air Zermatt deployed for several crevasse rescues
The fresh snow on the first weekend in April attracted numerous winter sports enthusiasts to the mountains on Monday. But danger lurks beneath the snow cover. Within a few hours, Air Zermatt was called to three glacier crevasse accidents on Monday. In addition, rope teams in the Monte Rosa region were surprised by icy cold. Intensive hours for the rescuers in the Upper Valais.
After a fall into a crevasse, the time factor, among others, can decide over life and death of an injured mountain climber. The more time that passes, the deeper the person melts into the glacier. If Air Zermatt is called to a crevasse accident, several rescue specialists with technical rescue equipment such as tripods, compressors or crevasse chisels are flown to the accident site as a matter of priority. As soon as the rescuers on site report that the person will soon be rescued, a rescue helicopter with an emergency physician and paramedics takes off for the crevasse so that the injured person can receive optimal medical care. The same principle was used for the three crevasse rescues on Monday afternoon.
Shortly before noon, Air Zermatt was called to a first crevasse accident. A group of Americans was descending from Tête Blanche. On the glacier Stockji, the mountain guide fell about 15 to 20 meters into a crevasse. Air Zermatt immediately flew three rescue specialists with technical equipment to the crevasse. For an operation with the tripod, at least three mountain rescuers are needed. The rescue helicopter with pilot, emergency doctor and paramedic on board flew the rescued mountain guide to the Inselspital in Bern.
Immediately after this crevasse operation, Air Zermatt received another emergency call: a snowboarder fell into a crevasse in Saas-Fee near the piste, but outside the marked piste. Air Zermatt flew the three rescue specialists to the scene of the accident. The injured snowboarder could only be rescued from the crevasse with minor injuries and was flown to the doctor in Saas-Fee for a check-up.
Later in the afternoon, Air Zermatt was called to a third crevasse fall. In the area of Klein Matterhorn, a snowboarder fell about 30 meters into a crevasse outside the marked slope. The circumstances of this crevasse rescue were challenging as the crevasse was wide and snowdrifts were threatening. In addition, a bipod had to be used for the rescue, which required several rescuers at the same time. Therefore, Air Zermatt had to fly a total of eight rescue specialists to the accident site. The Air Zermatt rescue helicopter finally flew the injured snowboarder to the hospital in Visp after about one and a half hours of rescue.
In addition to the three crevasse rescues, Air Zermatt was called to other emergencies at the same time. Among others, two people from two different rope teams in the Monte Rosa area complained of frostbite on their toes. Surprised by the low temperatures, the rope teams nevertheless made it back to the Monte Rosa hut. There, the two people were flown to the Visp hospital with severe frostbite on their toes. Later, the patients had to be transferred by helicopter to the University Hospital in Geneva by Air Zermatt.
Operations such as these require unique know-how and an interplay of specialists, such as those available at Air Zermatt.