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Skier survives four-day Jungfrau ordeal

The Jungfrau region offers great skiing, but also some perils. swiss-image.ch

A German skier has emerged unscathed after four days in biting winds and sub-zero temperatures after he fell down a glacier in the Jungfrau region.

This content was published on January 3, 2002 - 16:15

The experienced skier kept alive by digging a hole in the snow inside the crevasse where he fell. Above, icy gusts swept by at up to 230km per hour, while temperatures sank to -25 degrees centigrade.

Disaster strikes

The 35-year old set off with his younger brother on December 27 for a skiing tour of the Jungfrau region.

The pair had reached the summit of Louwittorsattel (3650m) and were heading for the Hollandia Hut via the Kranzbergfirn when the eldest brother disappeared from view - he had fallen into the crevasse.

The youngest brother went in search of him but the steepness of the Kranzbergfirn forced him to hurtle down the glacier before he managed to come to a halt.

With the aid of his pickaxe and skis, the youngest brother managed to climb back to the Louwittorsattel, from where he was able to call the rescue services from his mobile phone.

Rescue hampered

A team of ten rescuers from the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) and a helicopter set off the same day in search of the brothers, but were forced to turn back because of the bad weather and blizzards.

The following day, the team set off again, accompanied by seven other rescue workers from SAC Grindelwald. They succeeded in finding the youngest, injured brother, who suffered frostbite on his fingers and feet.

However, heavy snowfall and strong, icy winds later that day and on Saturday once again deterred the rescue operation from reaching the trapped German.

They did not reach him until Sunday.

Snow hole

The German had fallen some twenty meters down the crevasse. He dug himself a hole in the deep snow, where he stayed the first night.

On the Friday morning, he attempted to hoist himself out the hole to reach the Hollandia Hut, having left all but the most necessary items behind. However, raging winds, poor visibility and the absence of a compass - which he had discarded in the crevasse - forced him to abort the mission.

It was not until Sunday that conditions allowed him to abandon his snowy cavern to set off from the Hollandia Hut.

The man - exhausted but unharmed - reached the Concordia Hut on Sunday afternoon, from where he called the rescue services who picked him up by helicopter.

swissinfo

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