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Does High Altitude Alpine Rescue Take Away the Spirit of Alpinism?

Dear Ladies and Gentleman, a new chapter was opened in the history of Alpine rescue at today’s IMS Congress titled “Rescue from the world’s highest mountains: exporting rescue operations or education?”
Does High Altitude Alpine Rescue Take Away the Spirit of Alpinism?

At the IMS Congress today, Friday 5 November, top alpinists met with rescue operators and emergency physicians to talk about experiences, challenges and the way forward in rescue missions in the highest mountains. This event, which can probably be considered of the most important international events on alpine rescue in the last 20 years, was organized by the EURAC Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine under the direction of Dr. Hermann Brugger.

Bruno Jelk, President of the Terrestrial Rescue Commission (ICAR) and one of the world’s best rescuers, confirmed that with the newest technologies today, alpine rescues are feasible even in the highest altitudes. Thanks to the cooperation between rescue committees from Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, such rescue missions can be carried out by local teams. With the necessary training and technical support from abroad, the poorly working rapid response teams based in Europe could eventually be replaced by local rescuers and mountaineers. The groundwork of this approach would be the transmission of the experience gained in 40 years of Alpine rescue coupled with the training is of local Sherpas who are familiar with the location. Simone Moro, Gerold Biner, Ramon Chiocconi and Nazir Sabir reported about some very difficult rescue missions. Experienced rescuers criticized the increasing number of inexperienced hobby mountaineers who need to be rescued. In the closing debate, Reinhold Messner stated that helicopters are being used as a matter of course: “We are taking away the charisma of alpinism”.

IMS Walk & Talk Early in the morning, a group of approximately 100 mountain lovers hiked to Rastnerhütte. Their mountain guides were Allessandro Gogna and Steve House, who had just given a moving speech about the effect his recent accident had on his life the night before. The second walk on the today’s program was at least as popular: To hike with Reinhold Messner and Oh Eun Sun, the first man and the first woman to have climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, was a unique experience for the 150 participants. At the IMS Talks on Friday 5th November with Mick Fowler, Simone Moro and the Godfather of mountaineers Reinhold Messner the guests of IMS could experience a journey through the joy and pain of their expeditions. Reinhold Messner however devoted his actual talk to another star: the Dolomites.

IMS on Sunday The International Mountain Summit is slowly getting to its end. On its final day, the platform of alpinism still has to offer an exciting program. Once more, there will be a chance to hike with top alpinist. Hobby mountaineers will leave from Forum Brixen /Bressanone to join Mick Fowler, Stephen Venables and Jerry Moffat for a walk. In the afternoon, Silvio Mondinelli will kick off a series of talks with his presentation "Beyond the 14 eight-thousanders" followed by Stephen Venables who will talk about his trips with exceptional mountaineers. In the morning, a group of media experts and journalists will discuss about the way mountain sports are presented in the media. In this context, journalists and media representatives will talk about their own assessments. All mountain enthusiasts are cordially invited to join fellow hobby mountaineers, alpinists, and speakers to round off the IMS 2010 together at the Forum.

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