Rescue chopper crash on Ama Dablam -- Annapurna record pilot lost

Rescue chopper crash on Ama Dablam -- Annapurna record pilot lost

Posted: Nov 08, 2010 11:49 am EST

(ExWeb/Madrid) "Saturday, a helicopter crashed on the north side of Ama Dablam while attempting to rescue climbers on that side of the mountain," Fabrizio Zangrilli reported yesterday. While details were sketchy, some more facts have poured in since then.

Pilots lost

The Firshtail Air chopper was on its way to rescue two standed Japanese climbers. "Civil aviation authority officials at Phaplu told local reporters that the chopper suddenly fell from high altitude while on its second flight from Lukla," the Industan Times reported.

"Although the exact cause of the accident has not been ascertained, it is believed that it took place due to strong winds in the valley."

Crew members Captain Sabin Basnet and Engineer Purna Awale lost their lives in the crash.

A record-breaking rescue crew

Privately operated Fishtail Air collaborates with Swiss Air rescue services, training pilots and preparing helicopters to perform high-altitude resue operations in Himalayas of Nepal .

Previously, Captain Basnet had performed the highest rescue operation ever, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. In spring this year, he picked up Spaniards Juan Oiarzabal and Carlos Pauner, and Romanian Horia Colibasanu, from nearly 7,000 meters high on Annapurna.

Fishtail pilots also performed amazing rescues on Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and a large number of 7000ers and 6000ers.

Fresh from Broad Peak and K2, Fabrizio Zangrilli is now guiding a team by Field Touring Alpine on Ama Dablam, currently coping with most of the action among all Nepal's peaks. Among the FTA members are Sherpa guide Siddhi Tamang and foreign clients Erika Gustavsson, Roger Hedlund, Jack Gerstein, Michael Brandt and Ruud van Gassel.

Editor's note: While the crash took place near the mountain's north face, Ama Dablam's normal route goes up the SW ridge.

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A Fishtail Air B3 chopper flying among the ragged peaks of Nepal Himalaya.
courtesy Fishtail Air, SOURCE