by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
A return to Mount Arken proved to be a real tough challenge for Virgil, Brains and Thunderbird 2 on Wednesday evening.
The International Rescue team were alerted by the ‘Arken Seven’, the legendary climbing team making their world record fifth attempt to reach the summit of the forbidding mountain peak in the Himalayas.
Team leader Richard Dale had lead the team to their usual camp spot for the night and everything appeared to be running to schedule when the weather took a turn for the worst. Dale recalls, “The wind really picked up. It’s often gusty at those altitudes, but this was something else. The snow was being whipped up so fiercely I could barely see my hand in front of my face.”
The Arken Seven took shelter in their inflata-tents and waited for the wind to subside before assessing the situation. Second-in-command Sam Willow added, “Those inflata-tents are built to withstand almost anything nature can throw at them, which is a good thing too, given what happened next.”
Before anyone could react, an avalanche of snow and ice spilled down the side of the mountain and swamped the camp site, burying the whole team in their dwellings. Dale and Willow were able to boost the signal of their emergency transmitter to clear the snowfall and soon Thunderbird 2, with Virgil Tracy and Brains on board, had arrived at the scene.
Virgil elaborates on the situation they encountered, “There was no sign of the camp, the avalanche had totally buried any trace of it. Fortunately, Thunderbird 2’s thermal tracking system soon found the body heat of the trapped personnel. It was touch and go maneuvering Thunderbird 2 through the narrow mountain range with those unusually strong winds, but we made a safe landing at last.”
The two men unloaded The Mole from Pod 6 and expertly tunneled down to the stricken climbers, using handheld heat lasers to cut through the last few feet of snow. Brains explained, “The Arken Seven were in r-remarkably good health considering their ordeal. However, as a p-precaution, we took them for medical aid and checkups. I am happy to report they are all recovering and their experience has not made any of them re-consider their next attempt.”
Richard Dale and his team would like to extend their sincere thanks to the International Rescue organisation, and we at A21 wish to add our thanks for another job well done.