Zermatt – mountain rescuer about glacier woman: “You can feel a certain anger in you!” – News abroad

Zermatt (Switzerland) – The rescuers speak of a miracle: A scantily clad woman fell into a crevasse in the Valais Alps in Switzerland and survived almost two days and two nights at temperatures below freezing.

BILD spoke to the first rescuer Richard Lehner about the seconds of miraculous rescue. The mountain rescuer was lowered to the woman in the crevasse on a rope.

How was the moment when you discovered the scantily clad woman?

Richard Lehner: “You feel a certain anger in you to see a woman in such minimal gear on the glacier. On the other hand, you are happy to be with her and to free her from the predicament. “

Photo: Helmut Lerjen, Richard Lehner / dpa

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A so-called tripod stands over the hole, similar in appearance to a camera frame. There are winches on it, with which mountain rescuers slowly lower Lehner into the crevicePhoto: Helmut Lerjen, Richard Lehner / dpa

Last Sunday, the woman in her early 30s walked from the Monte Rosa hut at 2,883 meters above sea level wearing only shorts and a small rucksack to the Grenz glacier in the Monte Rosa massif above Zermatt.

Was the woman approachable?

Richard Lehner: “Yes, she was approachable, but a bit closed. I told her that everything would be fine now and that we would get her out of the crevice. Then I asked her if she had any injuries! She said that she wanted to go to Italy via the passport. “

It happened at about 3725 meters: under the blanket of snow, a crevasse opened up invisible to the woman. One step on the snow bridge, which couldn’t hold its weight, and she fell down with the snow.

Morgendämmerung an der Monte-Rosa-HütteFoto: picture alliance / imageBROKER

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Dawn at the Monte Rosa HutFoto: picture alliance / imageBROKER

The woman remained lying on a ledge ten or fifteen meters below the surface. Then she tried to make herself noticeable by shouting. But there weren’t many people in the rough terrain. She stayed in the dark all day and night. Her luck drew near on Tuesday morning.

A group of mountaineers made their way to the Margherita hut at a good 4500 meters just behind the Swiss-Italian border. The well-equipped alpinists located numerous snow holes and had to take detours again and again. The first of the rope team suddenly heard calls for help from a crack. He immediately made an emergency call. The alpinists lowered a rope to the woman so she could secure herself.

Blick in die Gletscherspalte auf dem Grenzgletscher im Monte-Rosa-Massiv in den Walliser Alpen oberhalb von ZermatPhoto: Helmut Lerjen, Richard Lehner / dpa

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View into the crevasse on the Grenzgletscher in the Monte Rosa massif in the Valais Alps above ZermattPhoto: Helmut Lerjen, Richard Lehner / dpa

Is salvation a miracle?

Richard Lehner: “Yes sure. That after two days you happen to find a woman in a crevasse. For us it was a simple crevasse rescue in terms of rescue technology. But the circumstances are very special. In the crevice, the woman put on a rescue blanket and probably kept moving so that the body temperature does not drop too low. “

For the mountain rescuers, it’s about saving people after accidents. They don’t actually question how they got into their predicament. Basically, however, one thing is clear: going on a trip to a glacier in shorts is negligent.

“You never go on a glacier alone or without equipment,” says another mountain rescuer. According to Air Zermatt, the Monte Rosa hut warden had warned the woman. Because she was traveling alone, no missing person reports were posted.

The actual rescue operation two days later then took barely an hour. The mountain rescue service brought the woman into the hovering helicopter that flew her to the hospital. Air Zermatt later reported that the woman was hypothermic at 34 degrees, but otherwise remained uninjured.

“I’ve been a mountain rescuer for 21 years, but it has never happened before that someone survived something like this,” said operations manager Helmut Lerjen later.


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