18 Climbers Rescued

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
By Hugh MacArthur

ALP Mountain Rescue HelipcopterThe Guardia Civil, mountain-rescue team had to assist 18 climbers from a 22-man-strong excursion belonging to a local climbing club.

All the climbers, aged between 50 and 70,  are trying to cross the Sierra Nevada from the north to the south, starting out last Saturday morning, when the majority of the climbers began to get into trouble.

They had been aiming to finish the climb at Capilera, having set off from Piedra Partida, taking in an overnight stay at the Refugio Poquiera, but they never reached there night stop-over point.

The Guardia Civil received a call-out at 14.00h from the 112 emergency number, instructing them that a climber needed to be evacuated from a point near the Pico El Cuervo with a knee injury.

The G.C. sent in their rescue helicopter with two climbing experts on board to pick up the climber, but when the reached the group the number to be evacuated had increased to three: two men and a woman with altitude sickness. This was too much for the small helicopter to carry so they made two trips of it.

 Then at 18.30h 112 received another call from the climbing group to say two of them has physical problems and they were stopped in the Puntal del Goteron area, at some 3,000 metres. One had a damaged hand and the other had a high blood-pressure reading. 

However, weather conditions were worsening with high winds and thick fog and before long the number wanting to be evacuated was 14.

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So, the G.C. evaluated the condition of the climbers and began relaying them out according to the severity of their medical condition, starting with three in the first flight and four in the second.
By then the conditions were worse and the helicopter could not be used so two members of the mountain-rescue team stayed with the remaining climbers to pass the night. The helicopter, before heading for home, flew up to the refuge and brought down sleeping bags for the climbers and rescuers.

The next day the weather hadn’t relented and the terrain didn’t help so that the helicopter pilot had his work cut out for him to even get close to the climbers, but the last of the climbers were evacuated.

The Guardia Civil advised thorough planning of such expeditions (route/weather forecast) and above all, not to over estimate your physical capacity, as was the case of these 18 climbers.

(News/Incidents: Sierra Nevada, Granada, Andalucía)

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