British climber presumed dead is rescued after being spotted by drone in Himalayas

Rick Allen's rucksack was seen by a base camp cook after the climber fell from an ice cliff – the drone was later deployed

Tom Embury-Dennis
Tuesday 17 July 2018 17:55 BST
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Broad Peak in Pakistan is the world's 12th highest mountain
Broad Peak in Pakistan is the world's 12th highest mountain

A world-renowned British climber has been rescued from one of the world’s highest mountains after being spotted by a drone in the Himalayas.

Rick Allen, from Aberdeen, was presumed dead after falling from an ice cliff during a solo climb to the summit of Pakistan's Broad Peak (8,047m), the 12th highest mountain on Earth.

His rucksack was later spotted by a base camp cook, before a drone was used to locate him and guide rescuers to the 65-year-old’s location.

After being brought back to base camp with nothing more than “superficial cuts and frostnip”, he was flown by helicopter for further treatment.

Mr Allen and his climbing partner, Sandy Allan, were with a team of climbers in the Himalayas, but decided to turn back before the summit of Broad Peak due to high winds.

“He is a tough and strong willed man and also incredibly lucky that a cook and then the drone spotted him,” Mr Allan told the BBC. "We were convinced he was dead. He's my best high altitude climbing pal."

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Early reports said Mr Allen had been reported dead by members of his team, who had found his satellite phone and descended to base camp after the Scot attempted a solo attempt for the summit on 9 July.

David Roeske, one of the climber’s involved in the rescue, said Mr Allen had been alone on the mountain for 36 hours until a Japanese cook spotted a rucksack in the distance on the mountain. A drone was subsequently launched and spotted him still moving.

“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,” he told climbing website AlanArnette.com.

Mr Roeske and a team of climbers brought Mr Allen down to one of the mountain’s camps just as it was getting dark, before he was taken down to base camp on 12 July.

He was later evacuated for treatment to frozen toes – the mountaineer lost half of a big toe to frostbite during an earlier expedition.

In 2012, Mr Allen and Mr Allan completed what was then described as the last great unclimbed route in the Himalayas; a trip which Mr Allen said left him “absolutely skeletal” after running out of food during the descent.

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