31. October 2022

Happy End at Night on the Riffelhorn

On Sunday evening at a late hour, Air Zermatt in cooperation with the rescue station Zermatt rescued a 15-year-old English girl. She got lost in the Gornergrat area and could only be found after an hour-long search in deep darkness between the Riffelhorn and the Gorner glacier. The Air Zermatt crew, together with a rescue specialist, rescued the teenager from her predicament by winching her out of an extremely exposed spot.

On Sunday, a group of young people from England started for a hike on the Gornergrat. For unknown reasons, the 15-year-old English girl separated from the rest of the group on the way. When the young woman did not arrive at the meeting point on the Gornergrat, the leader of the young people went in search of the teenager, but without success. 

Several rescue specialists on duty

Shortly after 6:00 p.m., Air Zermatt was requested to assist in the search. A helicopter rescue crew flew over the area around the Gornergrat, the Riffelhorn and the Gorner glacier with searchlights. In addition, several rescue specialists from the Zermatt rescue station were called in for the terrestrial search. However, the search was unsuccessful.

The young teenager was neither equipped with a smartphone nor with a lamp. This made the search more difficult. Fortunately, she was carrying a walkie-talkie, which the group used to communicate with each other. Thanks to the use of this walkie-talkie, the fifteen-year-old was finally able to direct the Air Zermatt helicopter. Despite the darkness, the rescuers found her in an extremely exposed spot between the Riffelhorn and the Gorner glacier, where the teenager was blocked for several hours.

Tricky rescue with the winch

The rescuers had to decide whether to rescue the Englishwoman by terrestrial means, i.e. on foot, or to fly her out of the wall by helicopter. The unstable rock above the blocked woman posed the risk that rescuers on foot could trigger rockfalls. On the other hand, the rescue with the winch was a great challenge for the rescue crew of Air Zermatt and the rescue specialist because of the local conditions. After considering all the circumstances, the crew decided on a winch rescue and so the young woman was unharmed and happily winched out of the wall.


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