A dramatic rescue took place on Mt. Everest this past weekend where photographer and filmmaker Corey Richards had to be evacuated from the mountain by helicopter. Much of the incident was captured on film, which offers insight into high altitude mountaineering rescue operations that can be employed to save a climber’s life.
Richards was climbing the world’s tallest mountain as part of the co-sponsored National Geographic/North Face team that is preparing to tackle Everest’s seldom visited West Ridge. As part of his normal acclimatization process, he had made his way up to Camp 2, located at about 21,000 feet, and while there, he began to experience chest pains and was having trouble breathing. Fearing an impending case of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), better known as altitude sickness, Corey’s teammates sprung into action to help ensure his safety. After putting him on supplementary oxygen, ten other climbers loaded him into a plastic sled and started to lower him down the mountain.
The original plan was to take him to Camp 1 where he could be picked up by a helicopter, but the weather worsened as they descended, and they were forced to assist him all the way back to Base Camp at 17,500 feet. Along the way, the 28-year-old Richards had to periodically get off the sled and walk across large crevasses on out-stretched ladders.
Upon reaching Base Camp, Richards was taken to the village of Lukla, located at a lower altitude in the Khumbu Valley. Once there, high altitude doctors were able to examine him and they determined that it was best to send him back to Kathmandu for recovery. He is reportedly there now, feeling much better and weighing his options for potentially returning to the team.
Update: The video has been changed to no longer allow us to embed it here on Gadling. To check it out for yourself click here.