Rick Allen, a 65-year-old experienced mountaineer, almost lost his life climbing the Himalayas after he fell from a cliff. But thanks to a well-maneuvered camera drone, he lives to tell his tale.
The British adventurer from Aberdeenshire was with his climbing partner, Sandy Allan, when the pair decided to separate.
Sandy headed back to camp due to high winds, but Rick pushed through with his hike to the summit of Pakistan’s Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain in the world, by himself.
Rick was already returning from the hike when an unfortunate thing happened: he fell from a 26,000-foot cliff made of ice.
After Rick had been missing for 36 hours without any food in his pack, people at the camp started questioning the possibility of his safe return.
By sheer luck, a cook at the mountain’s base camp spotted what looked to be Rick’s backpack through a telescope. The alarm was raised, so Polish engineer Bartek Bargiel and his brother Andrzej sent out his high-tech drone to scan the mountain.
The drone was flown around Broad Peak and K2, the second largest mountain in the entire world.
The drone was able to capture movement, and rescuers, with the help of the drone, were able to pinpoint the Brit’s exact location.
When they retrieved him, Rick was suffering from minor injuries, and had mild frost bite.
He was airlifted to hospital for a check up and for treatment on his frostbitten feet.
Thankfully, being a seasoned hiker, it wasn’t Rick’s first time grappling with the condition. In fact, he already lost half of his toe to frostbite on a previous expedition.
Bartek, who operated the drone, said: “In the morning the cook came to us and said that he saw someone through the telescope, hanging on the glacier serac on Broadpeak. That was a man, he didn’t move and we thought that he’s dead.”
“After some time, he got up and started to walk, but he didn’t know where to go. So I flew to him with my drone Mavic Pro and I took the shot of this place, where he was.”
“Then we could trace his height and location [through the drone’s GPS coordinates]. We informed guys from the base under the Broadpeak so they can check [w]ho’s in the camp III.”
“3 people from the camp III at the Broadpeak moved to rescue Rick. I [flew] to Rick with my drone and he saw me. After all, he told to me, that he was relieved that someone knows about him.”
“I started to fly slowly to the guys from the camp III, Rick was following me. After some time, Rick and rescue team met. I’m happy that I could help him, I guess we’re in the right place at the right time.”
According to a story Bartek shared on his Facebook page, Rick’s version of events are as follows: “Clearly said I was alive and moving. They sent a message to my friends, from their description of my clothes they knew it was me. It was very encouraging because I knew that they knew or believed that they knew at this point that I was alive and still heading in the right direction.”
“I went over the ridge and looked down. I saw camp iii and I saw people coming from Camp III to me. Apparently they spotted me at that moment and started screaming my name, and I waved at them and knew I’d get help soon, so I was delighted.”
Before his ordeal, Rick tells that he was never fond of drones. But he’s been won over by the benefits of owning one, saying: “This has changed my perception of them.”