27. June 2023

Start of the summer season: operations increase

Air Zermatt's help has been in great demand over the last few days. The beautiful weather encouraged numerous alpinists to take a trip into the mountains. Accordingly, the Air Zermatt rescuers often had to rescue excursionists and mountaineers from their predicaments. But the Air Zermatt crews were also called to a traffic accident, to transfer flights and to night missions.

The sunny and hot summer weather has attracted many people to the outdoors and increasingly to the mountains again in recent days. The helicopter crews of Air Zermatt were correspondingly challenged. The missions of the last few days covered a wide range of operations in which Air Zermatt cooperated with rescue specialists on several occasions. 

Rescues on the Matterhorn

On Saturday afternoon, Air Zermatt was called to an operation on the Matterhorn. A climber was exhausted and could no longer make the descent from the Matterhorn on his own. An Air Zermatt crew was able to safely evacuate the alpinist from the Matterhorn and fly him back to the base in Zermatt. Less than 24 hours later, the air rescuers from Zermatt were called to another emergency on the Matterhorn. A climber, accompanied by a non-resident mountain guide, fell about ten metres into the rope below the summit. In the process, the climber injured his head and thigh. Together with a rescue specialist, the injured climber was flown out of the Matterhorn by means of MERS, a static rope to which several people can be attached below the helicopter. The injured climber was flown by Air Zermatt to the hospital in Visp.

Mountaineers in distress

But it was not only on the Matterhorn that Air Zermatt was busy. On Sunday morning, there was a crash at the Dom: an alpinist fell about eight metres into the rope while climbing the Festijoch. Due to pain in his foot, he was unable to descend under his own power. So Air Zermatt was called for help. Together with a rescue specialist from the Zermatt rescue station, the injured alpinist had to be freed from his predicament using a winch. The crew flew the patient to the hospital in Visp.

For a group of mountaineers, the ascent of the Hobärghorn also ended with a rescue by Air Zermatt. Exhausted and showing the first signs of altitude sickness, the group of climbers had to be evacuated by Air Zermatt at over 4000 metres and flown to Zermatt. The climbers were unharmed.

Another mission called the Air Zermatt crew to the Dufourspitze. A climber fell at the Silbersattel and sustained cuts with his crampons. An Air Zermatt crew was able to evacuate the injured climber and fly him back to Zermatt to see a doctor.

On the Grand-Combin, however, all help came too late for a climber from Italy. While climbing to the summit on Saturday, he fell over 600 metres into a snow slope. He was injured and was flown by an Air Zermatt helicopter to the hospital in Sion, where he died at noon.

Exhausted hikers

In the past few days, Air Zermatt has not only rescued mountaineers, but also hikers in distress. On Saturday, two hikers were on their way from the Saas Valley to Grächen. However, the two hikers did not reach their destination because they were too exhausted. An Air Zermatt helicopter was able to fly the two hikers safely to their destination in Grächen.

Night-time traffic accident

On Saturday evening, a traffic accident occurred on the Brandalpstrase in Unterbäch at about 10.30 p.m. For unknown reasons, the driver drove off the road. The car then hit a sloping piece of woodland and came to a standstill on a road below. The driver was seriously injured and had to be flown to the Inselspital in Bern by Air Zermatt helicopter.


Air Zermatt was called to a car accident during the night.


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