Mountain climber tells of lucky escape after helicopter rescue
By Penny Stretton A MOUNTAIN climber from Muswell Hill had to be rescued by helicopter after becoming stranded in the Swiss Alps. On his first alpine climbing trip, Misha Warshaw was forced to spend the night in freezing temperatures when he and his compa
By Penny Stretton
A MOUNTAIN climber from Muswell Hill had to be rescued by helicopter after becoming stranded in the Swiss Alps.
On his first alpine climbing trip, Misha Warshaw was forced to spend the night in freezing temperatures when he and his companion got into difficulties whilst descending the 15,000 foot high Matterhorn Mountain.
The climbers were the last to come off the summit when a snowstorm hit them as night fell.
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"There were a few groups doing the climb," said Mr Warshaw, 23. "We were a bit slower than the other groups from the beginning. It was tricky to navigate as there were no markings. By the time we got to the top the others were on their way down.
"We were planning to stay in huts halfway down but we got into trouble. There was a bit of a snowstorm but we began our descent by abseil.
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"At some point I slipped and hit a wall and I lost a crampon. At the same time the rope became trapped in a rock with the force of my slipping. We couldn't pull the rope free and it wouldn't have been terribly safe to move anywhere so even though we didn't want to, we had to call mountain rescue."
The Kent University student and his Turkish friend Ersun Kurtulus were told that the Alpine rescue service would not carry out a night rescue when the weather was so bad. The men were told to sit tight until the morning and had to make use of the clothing they had to keep them warm.
"I had two thermal based layers and we were reasonably well prepared. I had waterproof trousers, an extra thick fleece and a balaclava and we had double gloves.
"We took out what we could to sit on and used our bags as some cover.
"We found a sheltered spot in the rocks and huddled together to keep warm. We had to keep chatting so we didn't fall asleep which we could have done but it would have been dangerous."
Rescue services arrived around 6am the next morning to winch the mountain climbers to safety.
"We were very much worse for wear and were very relieved to see the rescuers. We were winched by helicopter right to the bottom and given some hot drinks - right before they came back to take our credit card details for payment," said Mr Warshaw.
The electronics student who lives in Pages Lane was on his fifth climb, but is more used to climbing the British mountains in places including the Peak District and Wales.
He said:"I'm really glad to be home but it hasn't put me off climbing. I got into it through my university club; I'm actually the secretary of the mountaineering club so I have had to put up with a bit of ribbing but they have been fairly understanding."
But Mr Warshaw and his climbing companion were lucky.
Only days later four people including a Briton and his New Zealand girlfriend died while climbing Mont Blanc which is in the same area.
For advice and information on mountain climbing and how to be safe see the British Mountain-eering Council's website at www.thebmc.co.uk