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Missing Scottish climber found by drone in Himalayas

A mountaineer who was feared dead in the Himalayas after going missing for 36 hours was rescued after being located by a drone.

Rick Allen, 65, a highly experienced climber from Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, was returning from a solo climb to the summit of 8,047m (26,401ft) Broad Peak, part of the Karakoram mountain range, when he fell from an ice cliff.

He was trapped after the accident and suffered cuts and minor frostbite, but was not seriously injured.

The BBC reported that he was found by the drone on July 10, after a Japanese cook at K2 base camp raised the alarm when he spotted the Scot’s rucksack on the mountain. He was subsequently rescued by other climbers and Sherpas.

Mr Allen was in the Himalayas with his friend and climbing partner Sandy Allan, 63, from Newtonmore.

They had spent a few days making an attempt to reach the summit of Broad Peak before Mr Allan decided to turn back due to high winds, while his friend opted to make a solo bid for the summit.

It is understood that the drone that saved his life was operated by two climbing brothers, Andrzej and Bartek Bargiel, and was flown at a height of up to 8,400m (27,559ft) around Broad Peak and K2, the world’s second highest mountain.
rick allen
Rick Allen and Sandy Allan on a climb in 2012 Credit: Sandy Allan

Mr Allen was brought back to a base camp before being flown to hospital for treatment to his toes.

He said that after he had failed to return as expected from his summit bid a number of people had “come to the conclusion that I was not going to come back”.

He added: “I think Sandy knows me well enough that I can hang in in some pretty tough situations. But I think even he was struggling”.

Mr Allen said the use of the drone was significant because it showed images proving he was still alive.

Mr Allan added: “He is a tough and strong willed man and also incredibly lucky that a cook and then the drone spotted him. We were convinced he was dead.”

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The mountaineers are highly regarded in the international climbing community.

In 2012, they completed what was described as the last great unclimbed route in the Himalayas, climbing Nanga Parbat in Pakistan via the Mazeno Ridge.

During the expedition they ran out of food, and Mr Allen said at the time the adventure left him “skeletal” and suffering from frostbite.

In Scotland, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, whose patch includes Ben Nevis, has trained drone operators and deployed the machines on rescues.

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