Search for missing climber called off

The mountain rescue service and the alpine task force of the police decided early Thursday afternoon to stop the search for the 24-year-old mountaineer from Lower Saxony who had an accident on the Hochkalter on Saturday and has been missing since then and to withdraw their forces. Since the morning they had been looking for the man at an altitude of more than 2400 meters in the snow-covered steep slopes of the mountain and when there was a high risk of avalanches. Recently there had been little hope of finding him alive five days after his emergency call and the last telephone contact. Helicopters are currently fetching the search teams from Hochkalter, after which the operations manager wants to undertake one last search flight with the helicopter.

On Wednesday evening, all attempts to locate the casualty using technical means only led the mountain rescuers to his backpack. The steep flanks and gullies below this site were searched with handheld probes on Thursday morning, without me being able to find a trace of the man under the snow, which was up to three meters deep in some places.

The young man from Lower Saxony set off on a high alpine tour on Saturday on Hochkalter in Ramsau near Berchtesgaden when it snowed. After a fall on the normal route, which had already been difficult in the summer and had easier climbing sections, he made an emergency call at an altitude of around 2,500 meters. In it, according to the Bavarian Red Cross, to which the mountain rescue service belongs, he initially said he broke both his arms and injured his head, but later stated on the phone that he was not seriously injured. But he is in terrain where there is a risk of falling and it is so steep and slippery that he can hardly stand.

After the emergency call, a large-scale operation began with snowfall, ice, heavy rain, wind and fog at temperatures as low as minus six degrees. The mountain rescuers searched for the caller with several helicopters and on foot. He was unable to follow instructions to climb the ridge, where rescuers could have helped him more easily. “He said he can’t do it anymore because he’s so cold,” said the spokesman for the mountain rescue service. “The cold is the main problem. That’s the be-all and end-all, getting out of the wind.”

On Monday evening, thanks to the favorable weather, the emergency services were able to search the steep walls and gullies for the missing person for about an hour from a helicopter with binoculars. The mountain rescue service also used a so-called Recco buoy, which could locate semiconductors in electronic devices such as the 24-year-old’s cell phone. Specialists evaluated the images from the search flight for half the night, but could not find any trace of the casualty. A lot of fresh snow has fallen since Saturday, which is estimated to be up to three meters high in the gullies, making them difficult to see, the spokesman explained.

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