British climbers rescued at 19,500ft Britons

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The Independent Online
TWO BRITISH climbers have been plucked by helicopter from near the peak of North America's highest mountainafter being trapped at temperatures of minus 30C.

The third member, who went missing after leaving to find help, was rescued last night after three US climbers found him stranded with a broken leg at 17,500ft. Jane Tranel, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service in Alaska, said the trio had been trapped by a fall 19,500ft up Mt McKinley, 3,700ft from the peak, early on Thursday. Antony Hollinshead, 33, from Shropshire, has frostbitten fingers and toes and Nigel Vardy, 29, from Derbyshire, has frostbitten face, body and fingers. They are in hospital in Anchorage. Ms Tranel said 42-year-old Steve Ball, from Staffordshire, had been heading for a camp at 14,200ft.

The climbers were rescued by a specialist high-altitude helicopter team in a carbon copy of the rescue of British soldiers on the same mountain last year. A Lama helicopter dropped a radio and insulated "screamer suits" to the stricken pair. The climbers put on the suits and were carried one at a time to the 7,200ft base camp, dangling from a winch. From there they were taken by plane to Anchorage. Their expedition had just four days to go.

Mt McKinlay has a notorious reputation. Since 1972 it has claimed the lives of 15 climbers trying to conquer its slopes.

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