News

Italian climber Francesco Cassardo finally evacuated by Pakistan Army Aviation

L-Cala Cimenti R-Francesco Cassardo

As per the latest reports, Pakistani Rescue Helicopters have evacuated Italian Climber Francesco Cassardo from Camp-1 of 6955m high Gasherbrum-Vꓲꓲ. The helis are on their way to Skardu where Cassardo will be taken to a military hospital for immediate treatment.

High altitude drama returned to the Pakistani mountains when, on Saturday July 20th, 2019, Italian mountaineer Cassardo encountered a life threatening fall during the descent from the Gasherbrum-Vꓲꓲ. 30-year-old Cassardo was accompanied by compatriot Cala Cimenti who decided to ski down the mountain while Cassardo had chosen to climb his way down. The two Italians, before the beginning of their respective descents, have had just a few moments of celebration of the first ascent of G-Vꓲꓲ.

Gasherbrum Massif-Karakorum Pakistan
PC: Florian Ederer

Soon after he started descending, Cassardo had a nightmare-ish 500m fall bringing him down to 6300m approx., delivering serious injuries to his neck and head. Cimenti, soon after realizing that Cassardo has fallen, started climbing again to reach his partner. Cimenti and Cassardo spent the night between Saturday and Sunday hoping that the helis would arrive earlier in the morning.

On Sunday morning Cimenti was informed that helicopter rescue could not be executed due to high altitude and dangerous conditions on the mountain. Left with no choice, Cimenti decided to bring Cassardo almost 100m below and was later joined by Denis Urubko and Don Bowie who have brought in oxygen cylinders and other medical aid. Later in the day, the rescue team was further enforced by two polish climbers. The team designed a makeshift contraption to help lower Cassardo further down to Camp-1.

L-Denis Urubko R-Marco Confortola
PC: Marco Confortola

The rescue operation involved frantic communication between the Italian Foreign Office and Italian Embassy in Islamabad. The appeal for Cassardo’s rescue was launched by his brother in Italy. Rescue coordinator Italian Marco Confortola- who scaled Gasherbrum-ꓲꓲ on Thursday, blamed Pakistani authorities for not expediting the rescue operation and lack of quick response in sending helis for evacuation. Pakistani authorities have clarified that Cassardo could not be rescued because of his high altitude and also due to dangerous conditions at his location.