Saved from disaster on Mont Blanc – by a text to Shrewsbury

Two young British climbers who became stranded on a tiny ledge overhanging a precipice 11,500 feet up Mont Blanc were rescued after texting a friend in Shrewsbury.

Tom Greenwood and Finn McCann, both aged 23, had been climbing the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey peak on their way up the famous mountain when the weather closed in and trapped them on Wednesday.

With their mobile telephones almost out of battery power, they faced dying of hypothermia amid freezing weather conditions. But after they raised the alarm with a Mayday text message to a friend in Shrewsbury they were winched to safety by a helicopter after spending the night on the mountain.

High winds and poor visibility forced the first two rescue attempts to be called off, but they managed to reach the climbers on the third attempt.

Mr Greenwood and Mr McCann had set off from an Italian base camp in good weather conditions to climb the formidable south ridge route to the top of Mont Blanc. The climb went smoothly until at about 9,840 feet Mr Greenwood's shoulder was dislocated, and continued to pop in and out.

Despite the dislocation, a recurrence of an old weight-lifting injury, the pair decided to continue climbing. But when they reached a point 11,500 feet (3,500m) up Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, the weather closed in.

Heavy, icy rain poured down the rockfaces, making it impossible for the pair to go either up or down the mountainside. They tried phoning emergency numbers but found that they didn't work.

Mr McCann said: "We were worried about hypothermia and with two bars of battery between us we were really panicking. I'm not afraid to say that we were very scared. We tried the mountain rescue numbers but they didn't work, so we sent a text to a friend in Shrewsbury."

Their message got through and the friend was able to contact the rescue services, only to be told that the dreadful weather conditions meant any attempt to pluck them to safety would have to be delayed until the following day.

News of the delay, which reached them in a text from Britain when they dared to turn on their dying phones to check their messages, came as a severe blow. "We were desperate, it was unbearably cold and we were risking hypothermia, stuck on a tiny ledge above a huge drop," said Mr McCann.

"We spoke briefly to him and gave him our position and then we just got ready to bivvy [camp] out in the open for the night." Mr Greenwood used the last of the battery power at 5am yesterday to say they were "in real trouble" but the phone gave out before the call could be completed.

Shortly before 6am they were spotted by a helicopter crew. High winds prevented their rescue, but after a second abortive attempt a crew was able to reach them later in the morning.

Oscar Taiola, head of the Alpine rescue team, said: "They would have been wiser to stay at the base camp."

Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, known as the "Black Needle", is a mountain forming part of the Peuterey ridge used by climbers to reach the top of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser