A Scottish climber who went missing in the Himalaya Mountains was rescued after being located by a drone 36 hours after he disappeared.
Rick Allen, described as a highly experienced mountaineer, was returning from a solo ascent of 26,400-foot Broad Peak in the Karakoram range. On his way down, he fell off an ice cliff, the Times of London reported.
Allen, 65, was believed by other climbers to have died.
But a base camp worker saw a backpack on the mountain and then others at base camp went to look at the spot through a telescope and noticed something they thought might be a climber – but assumed if it was, the person wasn’t alive. So a base camp team sent a drone to get a better look. The drone pilot was then able to direct rescuers to Allen’s position.
“The climber had been presumed dead until a drone pilot from K2 basecamp spotted him still moving and off route,” wrote climber David Roeske on the climbing blog Alanarnette.com. “With the help of the drone pilot we were able to eventually locate him in very dangerous terrain — a fall would’ve taken him either down a crevasse or all the way to the base of the mountain — and the three of us got him down and into a tent at camp 3 just as it was getting dark.”
From there, the story gets picked up by a drone enthusiasts’ website, DroneDJ, which published an interview with the drone pilot, Bartek Bargiel, who does professional drone photography and operates drone cameras for documentary filmmakers.
“In the morning the cook came to us and said that he saw someone through the telescope, hanging on the glacier serac on Broadpeak,” Bargiel said. “That it was a man, he didn’t move and we thought that he’s dead.”
Bargiel flew the drone to the location – and was able to tell rescuers where the man was based on the drone’s GPS coordinates. He then flew the drone toward rescuers, and Allen followed the drone.
“After some time, Rick and rescue team met,” Bargiel said. “I’m happy that I could help him, I guess we’re in the right place at the right time.”