Pakistani military helicopters have rescued an Italian climber 48 hours after he suffered serious injuries in a fall from a mountain in the northern Karakoram range, officials said on Monday.
Francesco Cassardo, a 30-year-old doctor from the northern Piedmont region, on Saturday gave up on reaching the 6,955-metre summit of Gasherbrum VII mountain and was returning to base camp when he fell, Italian media reported.
Climbing companion Carlo Alberto Cimenti, 43, said Cassardo had hit several rocks before stopping at around 6,300 metres.
The Pakistani army said that Cassardo has “a broken femur as well as neck trauma”.
Rescue helicopters were unable to reach Cassardo over the weekend, citing rarefied air because of higher temperatures around the high altitude mountain.
On Sunday, four climbers from Poland and Canada arrived to help, bringing the injured climber down to base camp at 5,900 metres on an improvised stretcher.
There two Pakistani army helicopters landed at dawn on Monday and took Cassardo to an army base in nearby Skardu for medical attention.
“Great news we were expecting. Invaluable work done by army helicopters, as usual,” tweeted Italy’s ambassador to Pakistan, Stefano Pontecorvo.
Great news we were expecting. Invaluable work done by Army helicopters, as usual. https://t.co/BrGsLqdrAc
— Stefano Pontecorvo (@pontecorvoste) July 22, 2019
Hundreds of local and foreign climbers scale different mountains and peaks in northern Pakistan every year; accidents are common because of avalanches and sudden changes in weather.
Pakistan rescued four Italian and two Pakistani mountaineers after they were stranded following an avalanche in Ishkoman Valley last month. A third mountaineer was killed, and has been identified as a Pakistani.
Pakistan is home to some of the highest and dangerous yet exciting mountains for mountaineers. Spread across three mountain ranges Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu-kush are various peaks over 8000 meters. These include Broad Peak (8047 m), Nanga Parbat (8125 m) and K2 (8611) which is the second highest mountain in the world.
AFP with additional input from GVS News Desk