Two Belgian tourists attempting to climb the largest glacier in Europe were saved from possible freezing deaths in a dramatic helicopter rescue Saturday night after conditions atop Iceleand’s Vatnajökull glacier became unbearable.
One of the men was barely conscious when the Icelandic Coast Guard reached the two on the snow cap’s highest peak. The men, said to be experienced hikers, had sent up an emergency signal around 10 p.m. when wind gusts picked up and temperatures dropped to around -35 Celsius with the wind factor, according to the Iceland Review.
The men had gotten into trouble when their tent ripped, exposing them to the blizzard conditions. The elements were so severe that even the rescuers suffered minor frostbite to their faces, Iceland Review reports.
The dramatic rescue, which the lead rescuer described as like a “clip from a movie,” was captured by a night vision camera. Rescuers used night vision goggles to locate the two men, and then one rescuer was lowered down from the helicopter to pull the two men back up.
The hikers were said to be in good condition when they were found, apart from being cold. The unconscious man regained full consciousness once he was in the helicopter, according to Iceland Review, which also reported that the helicopter landed safely in the town of Hornafjorour around 2 a.m. No word was given on the climbers’ current condition.
Coast Guard officials credited the two men’s preparedness with saving their lives, reporting that the climbers had borrowed the emergency transmitter they ultimately used to call authorities from the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue before they left on their journey.