During a heavy snow storm on the Elbrus River, which is 5,642 meters tall, the highest mountain in Russia and Europe, five climbers were killed during the night from Thursday to Friday. Fourteen others could be saved. This was announced by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.
The group of nineteen climbers were at an altitude of about 5,000 meters when a heavy snowstorm surprised them. Media reports said most of them are not professional climbers.
Denis Alimov of the organization that organized the climb told Russian news agency TASS that a young woman in the group felt unwell Thursday morning and returned with a guide. The young woman eventually died in the arms of the guide who escorted her downstairs. The rest of the group reached the top but was overwhelmed by a “peerless storm”. One of the climbers broke his leg, slowing the group down. Two of the climbers froze to death, and two others lost consciousness and later died when they were lowered.
Nearly 70 rescuers and 16 vehicles made their way through the ice to rescue as many people on the mountain as possible. Rescuers are talking about very difficult weather conditions. The snow fell heavily and the wind speed reached 70 kilometers per hour at a temperature of -20 degrees. The rescue operation took hours.
Alimov regrets the drama, but adds to TASS that the group made good choices when a climber broke his leg during a storm. As a result, the team lost time and the weather deteriorated incredibly. Then it was decided to divide the group into three parts, the parts that were going faster and the parts that were going slower. Two people died upon disembarkation, but this option to separate was the right choice. Otherwise, there would likely have been more deaths.”
Eleven of the 14 rescued participants were hospitalized with frostbite and other injuries.
Although the Elbrus ascent is not technically difficult, dozens of climbers die every year trying to reach the summit.
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