On Monday the 9th of November Slovenian Alpinist Tomaz Humar sustained an injury high on Langtang Lirung's South Face in Nepal.
Humar was climbing solo and found himself stranded at around 6300m. He then telephoned a friend back in Slovenia to raise the alarm and a rescue operation was started.
The rescue service Air Zermatt were contacted and a rescue team was arranged. The operation took several days to reach basecamp due to difficulties in gaining permission for the Air Zermatt pilot Robert Andenmatten to fly a Nepalese helicopter.
In a statement made on the 12th of November (the rescue team had still not got final permission to fly) Air Zermatt's chief pilot Gerold Biner said:
"Our biggest challenge will be to arrange the permit for our pilot to fly a Nepalese helicopter. Sadly it seems difficult to convince the local authorities that our pilots are very experienced 'longline-pilots' (we fly up to 8000 sling load operations a year -cargo and human up to a length of 600 ft. lines). We have the skills and the currency to perform such extreme rescue missions in high altitude. So please if anyone can help us to convince the Nepalese authorities, contact us. Please let us try to save Tomaz."
The rescue team were finally granted permission and two helicopters were scheduled to land at basecamp at 5am on Saturday the 14th. Unfortunately the team was too late.
In a statement made this morning, Gerold Biner of Air Zermatt said:
"We just got a call from our rescue team in Kathmandu. The rescue was made just a few minutes ago. Pilot Robert Andenmatten and rescuer Simon Anthamatten could get Tomaz down from Langthang Lirung. Unfortunately Tomaz did not survive. All our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Tomaz was found at 5600 metres in the south wall. Robert decided to use 25 meters of static rope to bring Simon on the accident site. Robert who was with a Nepali captain, first flew Tomaz to basecamp and went up again to get Simon. Tomaz was further down then expected and had a broken leg. Our team is not sure if he had fallen further in the wall."
Tomaz Humar, a father of two, was one of the most successful super-alpinists of recent years with a number of difficult and dangerous solo ascents to his name. He first gained wide recognition in the climbing world with his audacious solo of Dhaulagiri back in 1999 and went on to climb many other long and committing routes.
In 2005 Humar attempted to solo Nanga Parbat and was rescued from around 6000m by a Pakistani army helicopter crew. He had sheltered for four days in a small snow cave. This story is told in the book (pictured above) by Bernadette McDonald titled simply 'Tomaz Humar'.
Langtang Lirung is a 7227m peak in the Langtang Himal of the Nepalese Himalaya. It was first climbed in 1978 by Seishi Wada and Pemba Tsering via the East ridge.
- You can read the UKC obituary by Stephen Goodwin here: UKC Obituary