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"If you stop, you will die"
March 19, 2007 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Fifty years ago today, the bodies of Jean Vincendon and François Henry were finally being brought back to Chamonix. The two young mountaineers had set-off for the ascent of Mont-Blanc and found themselves blocked in an ice storm on their way down. A rescue team found them several days later, sitting on the glacier by temperatures of -30°C at 4000 meters of altitude. They were alive, photographed even, but could not be brought down and died later on, abandoned in the wreckage of the old Sikorsky rescue helicopter which had crashed beside them. The operation fiasco caused a total reorganization of the mountain rescue service in France.
posted by rom1 (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting stuff, rom1. There was a relatively recent chopper crash on Rainier; there's something interesting about that error repeating itself.

I recently had the breathtaking pleasure of seeing the 1929 silent The White Hell of Pitz Palu on the big screen at the Paramount, with a similar plot to the events described in the Vincendon and Henry case. An aviator even plays a key role in the attempted rescue, but he flies a biplane, and of course there's a happy ending.
posted by mwhybark at 8:55 AM on March 19, 2007


Thanks rom1. That linked image is really quite haunting.
posted by hydatius at 9:26 AM on March 19, 2007


I agree, looking at that image when you know they'll die really hits you.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2007


Wow - thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 AM on March 19, 2007


The Mountain (1956) — starring Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner as Swiss brothers/mountaineers — begins with a mountaintop plane crash and a failed rescue expedition. Expecting no one left alive, the two climb to the wreckage but find a young woman who survived the crash. Her rescue becomes a battle between the brothers and against the mountain.

It plays occasionally on TCM, and is worth a watch.
posted by cenoxo at 7:47 PM on March 19, 2007


ADDENDUM: the fictional Air India plane crash and rescue attempt in The Mountain (1956) is probably based upon the real 1950 crash of the Air India liner Malabar Princess* on Mont Blanc, and its subsequent rescue attempt.

*A fictional French film with the same name was released in 2004.
posted by cenoxo at 8:29 PM on March 19, 2007


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