Angie Heister and her husband, Robert
Walking through the Tsitsingombe River Valley in Zimbabwe four years ago, Global Rescue member Angie Heister had no idea that her life was about to change dramatically. Angie and her husband were 10 days into their trip.
“Our guide was shooting birds to cook for us for lunch,” said Angie. “We’d already finished the dangerous game hunting and were in an area where we believed there weren’t any buffalo. We were going down a dirt road with the grass about 8 feet tall around us. With the direction of the wind and the noise we’d been making, that buffalo really should not have been there. He should have gone. Animals will usually run away when they see you but this animal didn’t. He waited for us. You never know what’s in the mind of a wild animal, but I often wonder if maybe he was injured and didn’t want to move, and we got too close and scared him. It was a loud sound, almost like a roar. I yelled ‘lion’ and took off running before I saw the animal.”
The male Cape buffalo emerged from behind a ziziphus bush and came rushing toward Angie and her husband. The bull first hit Angie’s husband, knocking him over. Angie was next.
“It was about four seconds from the time I saw the animal until it gored me. It just happened so fast,” she said. “The horn gored me, and I was thrown. What I didn’t know at the time was that it dislocated my spine. The animal had knocked my husband unconscious. The next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground. I’d heard stories about these animals and how mean they are, so I was trying to cover my head with my arms because I was expecting the animal to come back. That’s the reputation they have. It’s a miracle that the animal did not come back. He kept going.
“I realized I couldn’t move my legs but I wasn’t really processing what that meant,” Angie continued. “I didn’t realize that I was bleeding. The professional hunter came over to assess the situation. He and the guide realized I couldn’t walk, but didn’t realize how much I was bleeding. I knew was having trouble breathing, and it was all I could do to say, ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!’ We didn’t know it at the time but my ribs were broken and my lungs had collapsed.”
Angie was losing blood quickly, with a gaping wound on her left side. Their guide attempted to stanch her bleeding before bringing her to the nearest suitable landing area for a helicopter. He called Global Rescue.
A helicopter arrived within an hour and transported Angie to a facility in Victoria Falls. In the emergency room, she was stabilized and her injuries were assessed. She had no sensation in her lower extremities and had lost a life-threatening amount of blood.
Global Rescue physicians consulted with Angie’s attending physician and recommended that Angie be transported immediately to South Africa. Global Rescue performed a medical evacuation, bringing Angie via a medically equipped jet to a world-class trauma center in Johannesburg.
“Luckily it was decided that Global Rescue could take me to Johannesburg, which was a fantastic thing,” noted Angie. “It was a tier one health center -- a fantastic hospital with great medical care. Later, I did some research which confirmed it was a really great hospital. But at the time, all you know is that you’re in a country that you didn’t plan to go to, you’re in a hospital, you can’t move your legs, and you can’t feel your legs. You just don’t even have any idea what’s ahead.”
In Johannesburg, Angie was evaluated by neuro and trauma surgeons. In the meantime, Global Rescue dispatched the first of three paramedics to oversee her care. After a thorough review of Angie’s condition with specialists from Johns Hopkins medicine, the physicians determined that she required emergency surgery to fuse the vertebrae in her spine. The buffalo attack left her spinal cord severely bruised and her lower extremities would remain paralyzed for an unknown period of time.
“The trauma surgeon cleaned out the wound and tried to determine the extent of my injuries while trying to keep me alive,” said Angie. “The doctor later told me that the wound was big enough to fit his wrist and forearm through, and that he could see my bowels and the bottom of my lungs. It really is unbelievable that the horn didn’t hit an artery and I didn’t bleed to death. They said my spinal cord was dislocated and they needed to do surgery, but it would probably be two weeks before I was stable enough for that surgery. They put rods in my spine, and the doctors told me the area was very bruised and swollen.
“Global Rescue sent over their first paramedic to assess my situation,” Angie continued. “My husband was still in shock. Family had asked if they should come over but he told them no because he still didn’t know what was going on. He said several times that it was a tremendous help to have Global Rescue’s paramedic there to sit down and explain to him all the different things that were happening to me, and to say ‘we’re checking everything that they’re doing and what they’re doing is the right thing.’ You just can’t imagine the feeling when you’re that far away from home and in shock. You just can’t process what happened. Having Global Rescue there was an incredibly important thing.
“Global Rescue sent a second paramedic who took charge of gathering all of the medical tests and coordinating with the doctors there to validate that I was getting the right treatment. Before the accident, I was a health nut. I worked out four or five days a week, running and lifting weights. I was in reasonably good shape. After the accident, I had trouble even holding a fork.”
As rehab progressed, the Global Rescue team worked closely with Angie on her options for rehabilitation back in Dallas.
“Global Rescue started the conversation about where to take me when I got home,” said Angie. “I didn’t know anything about rehab centers, yet it looked like I would have to go to one. At this point, I didn’t realize that I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life, you know? My thinking was, I had the surgery and the doctor said I’ve got to give it six months. I thought I would start working on learning how to live like that, just in case. I wasn’t going to wait six months before trying anything. But it hadn’t set in mentally that this was going to be the new world.
“We were looking at rehab places in the suburbs of Dallas Metroplex. Now I laugh when I drive around and see all these little places because most of them are guaranteed to get you back on the football field really fast. They’re all geared toward a high school sports injury. I didn’t realize what a specialized rehab it is for spinal cord injury. Global Rescue had been recommending Baylor as the best one. As I look back, so much of the advice we received from Global Rescue was so critical because at the time, we just didn’t know anything.
“At the same time, Global Rescue began to discuss how we would be getting back home. There were countless logistics that Global Rescue handled that we would never have considered – what type of aircraft, ideal countries in which to refuel, and on and on. The medical oversight by Global Rescue was fantastic. The Global Rescue paramedic suggested that I do more rehab before I traveled. At the time, I thought he’d lost his mind. Now looking back, I can see that he was 100% right.
“Having the Global Rescue team look at my situation and say, ‘In this many weeks you should be so much stronger and then you should be able to do this’ – well, it was just imperative. I don’t quite have the words to explain how important it was having Global Rescue help us figure out where we were going to be in a day or a week or a few weeks, because we were just lost.
“After I was moved to the rehab unit of the Johannesburg hospital, I was learning how to transfer from the bed into my wheelchair or from the wheelchair into another seat. It’s a very hard thing to learn. A few days before we were scheduled to travel, Global Rescue’s third paramedic arrived. He was wonderful. I can’t even imagine had it been just my husband and me trying to get home. There’s no way physically we could have done it.”
Global Rescue evacuated Angie back home to Dallas.
(Part II to follow)
(Photo courtesy of Levison Wood)
Global Rescue member Levison Wood is a British explorer, writer and photographer who recently finished walking the entire length of the Nile River, the first person ever to do so. During his journey, Wood succeeded in raising funds for charities including the Tusk Trust and the Soldiers’ Charity.
Wood served as an Officer in the British Parachute Regiment, where he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. Since then, Wood has combined his passion for writing, photography and adventure. His work has been featured in a variety of media, including National Geographic and the BBC. His Nile journey was filmed and broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK and Animal Planet.
Global Rescue interviewed Wood back in 2013 before he embarked on his expedition, and recently had the opportunity to speak with him about his incredible Nile adventure and his plans for the future.
From the many months of your Nile journey, is there one highlight that stays with you more than any other?
There were some real highlights and some real lows. You may have heard about the tragic death of Matthew Power. That’s obviously an enormous tragedy that happened during the expedition. Of course, there were some incredible times as well. Looking back at the journey, it’s definitely positive. What will stay with me the most is the ascent of humanity, the fact that wherever I went, I was generally looked after very well. People were in incredibly hospitable, kind and generous.
Any close calls for you?
Yes, there were certainly times in international parks where I had some very close calls with wildlife. I was chased by a hippo and snapped at by a crocodile, those sorts of things. There were a couple of occasions in the desert where we were very close to running out of water. That’s all part of accepting the risk of an expedition of this nature.
How did you prepare for a journey like this?
I spent three years planning, so I really did my homework. There weren’t any surprises except for how mentally tough it was. Physically I was prepared, and physically I was ok because I had done my training. Africa has such a bad rep in some respects that all you hear about is the war and poverty and all those things. In fact, what I came away with was really incredible stories of entrepreneurs and the fact that people aren’t completely reliant on aid and can actually get along in life and are generally pretty happy.
How does it feel to come home after walking the Nile?
It’s definitely a welcome relief. It’s good to get back and, I wouldn’t say relax, but it’s good to be in one place for a while. I’ve been back since September, so it’s been a few months and I think that’s needed in this line of work. To make a success of exploration as a career, you have to be ready to give talks, write books, and speak with media. That’s six months doing your job and six months doing all the work behind the scenes.
(Photo courtesy of Levison Wood)
You were inspired at a very young age. Now you are inspiring a new generation of young explorers. Do you receive letters or emails from young people asking about your trip?
Yes, it’s really cool to be able to inspire the next generation. I’ve done many events at various schools and colleges. It’s really great when you get messages of support from people that you’ve inspired. Two people I’ve never met sent me messages saying, ‘Lev, I was fighting cancer and watching your journey really inspired me to carry on.’ When you read things like that, it makes it all worthwhile.
Actually, I have my next journey planned out. I’m going away again this June on the next big expedition. I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy at this stage. It’s going to be about four months, so a bit shorter equally interesting and equally challenging.
In the wake of Nepal’s earthquake and avalanche, which left thousands dead and hundreds of climbers stranded on Everest and other mountains, Global Rescue has spent the last 5 days responding to more than 100 requests for help. As one of the first responders on site in Lukla, our personnel triaged more than 200 humanitarian cases arriving by helicopter from the Mt. Everest region, working to support Nepalese government and other aid workers handle the very large number of cases.
We have deployed teams of paramedics and former military special operations personnel to Nepal and have executed over 45 rescues, evacuation and support operations.
Global Rescue Senior Specialist and paramedic Andy Fraser was preparing to provide support during the Himalayan climbing season and was among the foreigners in Nepal who experienced the earthquake. Andy, who works out of Global Rescue’s Bangkok Operations Center, specializes in remote area work and recently spent six months working in Zambia helping to train police, fire brigade and safari guides in wilderness trauma medicine. Andy previously served as a member of the Solo Rapid Response Unit with the London Ambulance Service, and has worked throughout in the Middle East and China.
Below Andy shares some thoughts on being one of the first responders in the midst of the devastation.
Tell us about your experience immediately after the quake struck.
I was in Lukla at first light on Sunday morning, triaging sherpas and climbers being brought down from Everest. It was relentless, lasting approximately six hours, with helicopters constantly bringing in casualties. I triaged in the helicopters and policemen stretchered the victims into the airport building which we had been commandeered and made into a field hospital.
What types of injuries were you seeing?
The injuries were traumatic in nature due to the avalanche – lots of fractured legs, arms, backs, necks and head injuries. Dr. Monica from Lukla hospital and I ran the operation. We triaged approximately 200 cases in 24 hours.
How is morale for those involved in the rescue effort, yourself included?
I can’t speak for others, many who are just arriving in the last day. For me, it’s just heartbreaking for the sherpas after last year.
In the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake which left thousands dead and hundreds of climbers stranded on Everest, Global Rescue has successfully extracted members of the final group of 18 climbers from Camp 1 and Camp 2. Global Rescue coordinated the evacuations with its contracted air providers in the Himalaya.
Global Rescue member Patrick McKnight wrote in his account of his rescue from Camp 1: “Global Rescue saved the day -- they were the only ones with a heli up there & they got everyone down."
Rescue operations conducted by Global Rescue personnel in Nepal include:
- Triaging more than 200 humanitarian cases at Lukla in the first 24 hours after the quake;
- Coordinating the evacuation of all Global Rescue members and others trapped at Camps I and II on Everest on April 28;
- Continuing to respond to over 93 requests for help and supporting 46 active rescue and evacuation operations.
More than 4,300 people have been killed and more than 8,000 others injured following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, the worst in nearly a century, that struck near the capital, Kathmandu, and the second-largest city, Pokhara, on April 25. Local media have indicated at least 900 fatalities in Kathmandu alone.
Global Rescue has deployed additional personnel to join its teams already stationed in Nepal. The company continues to communicate with and provide support and advice to clients and members in the region and is actively coordinating air resources for rescue and evacuation missions.
“Our immediate priority following the quake was to ensure all of our clients were uninjured and to get everyone off of the mountain to base camp. We’ve accomplished that,” said Global Rescue CEO Dan Richards. “We face significant challenges with food and potable water in short supply in the area, and weather impacting both rotary and fixed wing flights throughout Nepal. Our teams are working around the clock under quite challenging conditions and accomplishing extraordinary things.”
Global Rescue has performed rescue and evacuation missions in Nepal every season for more than a decade, typically conducting dozens of helicopter evacuations in the Himalaya each year. Global Rescue deploys medical and security teams, including former military special operations personnel, critical care paramedics and physicians, around the world to personally respond to members facing emergencies.
To request assistance, please contact Global Rescue Operations at 617-459-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the worst earthquake to strike Nepal in almost a century, Global Rescue is actively engaged on the ground conducting rescue operations for clients and members impacted by the tragedy.
The earthquake resulted in hundreds of deaths, injuries, and at least one reported avalanche on Mount Everest. The quake struck on Saturday shortly before noon local time with an epicenter approximately 50 miles from the capital of Kathmandu.
Global Rescue is deploying additional personnel to join its team already in Nepal for the Himalayan climbing season. Following the quake and avalanche, we are communicating with and providing intelligence to clients and members in the region to ensure their safety and are actively coordinating air resources for evacuations.
“This tragedy is heartbreaking, particularly after the events of the 2014 climbing season,” said Dan Richards, CEO and founder of Global Rescue. “The scale of the disaster is very large and our operations teams are working around the clock to ensure the safety of our clients and extract those who need it to safety.”
Global Rescue’s trained personnel have been conducting rescue and evacuation missions in Nepal every season for more than a decade. Global Rescue typically performs dozens of helicopter evacuations in the Himalaya each year. The company regularly sends its medical and security teams, including former military special operations personnel, critical care paramedics and physicians, around the world to personally respond to members facing emergencies.
To request assistance, please contact Global Rescue Operations at 617-459-4200 or email@example.com.
A plane crash in San Felipe, Mexico, caused extensive damage to Eric Lundahl’s Cessna 182, injuring Lundahl and his copilot
Global Rescue member Eric Lundahl, the owner of a sport fishing company, travels between Northern California and Baja Mexico monthly, often piloting his own Cessna 182. Recently retired, the 61-year-old Lundahl became more heavily involved in his La Paz-based business. “I knew I would be traveling monthly, back and forth, for the next three to five years. I decided it would be good if I had some sort of emergency coverage.”
Lundahl, a life-long pilot, purchased a Global Rescue membership in January 2014 as a precaution. “Traveling these distances through Baja can have its challenges and dangers,” he said. “I had no idea I would need Global Rescue so soon!”
Lundahl left La Paz one morning in early November 2014, heading for his first stop near the U.S - Mexico border. But this was not to be a typical flight. “The winds were up pretty good, blowing 29 knots from the north,” he recalled. The heavy winds slowed his travel and made it necessary for an unscheduled landing in San Felipe, Mexico, for fuel. Upon final approach, he experienced windshear, which was “like the hand of God pulling the airplane into the ground.”
The airplane hit the ground 50 yards short of the runway, skidded on to the runway, and came to rest. Both Lundahl and the copilot were knocked out at the time of the landing. “Fortunately, we didn’t roll the airplane over,” he recalled.
Site of Eric Lundahl’s plane crash in San Felipe, Mexico
All four people on board were able to get free of the wreckage. Lundahl and his copilot had serious injuries which would require transport to a U.S. trauma center.
“My copilot was hurt fairly bad, and he was still unconscious,” said Lundahl. “I didn’t think I had any broken bones so I was able to get out of the airplane. I was loaded into a fire truck that arrived on the runway and was taken to the local clinic, where services were very limited. I mentioned that I carry Global Rescue, which is exactly for this kind of emergency. I called Global Rescue and explained what had happened. That’s where Global Rescue stepped in and saved me,” Lundahl said.
The Global Rescue operations team sprang into action. “Every 30 minutes, I had a call from Global Rescue. They would call just to check on me, make sure that I was conscious, aware and being cared for, which was very good. Not long after, a very clean ambulance with an English/Spanish speaking doctor and a paramedic arrived, all arranged by Global Rescue.”
Lundahl was transported by ambulance to the border. “The crossing of the border into the United States can be horrendous – a couple of hours – in an automobile. For us, it was seamless. The Customs people knew who I was. They even knew that I had Global Rescue coverage.”
Once in the U.S., Lundahl was transported by helicopter to a San Diego trauma center.
“I got to my room and Global Rescue called to check that I was in my room and was well taken care of. The next morning, I was pretty surprised when a young man walked into my room and said, ‘Hi, I’m your Global Rescue paramedic.’ He was there to oversee my medical care and to make sure I got home safely. That was over and above what I expected. I did not expect that level of service.”
Lundahl underwent a battery of tests and remained in the trauma center for a couple of days. “I don’t care much for hospitals and was itching to get out of there. Global Rescue’s paramedic was very good about calming me down and making sure I got the proper care.”
Lundahl’s injuries were mostly facial, including a cut which severed all the nerves from the right side of his face. A few teeth were missing and he suffered a fractured bone in his jaw. Global Rescue’s paramedic remained with him until he was discharged and well enough to travel home.
Lundahl is on the road to recovery. “I am doing quite well, though still a little sore. I apparently crushed my right hand too. My face is still a little numb, but I’m coming back. Not bad at all.”
Lundahl is thankful he made the decision to purchase Global Rescue. “For 329 dollars a year for an individual medical membership, it’s very reasonable for the kind of coverage Global Rescue offers, so I decided to purchase it. I didn’t think I’d need it quite as soon as I did. Boy, am I glad I bought Global Rescue.”
Based on his experience with Global Rescue, Lundahl is spreading the word. “My sport fishing business handles more than 1,000 clients a year who travel in and out of Mexico. We’d like to make sure that all of our clients are aware that Global Rescue offers this type of coverage. I also give several talks to flying clubs every year. You can be sure that I will bring up a few photographs of the crash and tell them, ‘Global Rescue is how you handle it.’”
Lundahl concluded: “Global Rescue’s service was superb. I would recommend no other.”
Eric Lundahl catches a Rooster while fly fishing in the Sea of Cortez
Fishing with an eye patch -- Mary Innocenzi in Argentina (photo courtesy of Barry & Cathy Beck)
Barry and Cathy Beck organize trips for small groups in pursuit of the best fly fishing and photographic opportunities. They recently shared the story below about Global Rescue on their blog:
“We are in Argentina writing about Global Rescue from personal experience. A few days ago, Mary Innocenzi had trouble removing a contact lens after a particularly windy, dusty, day on the Malleo River. Her eyes were dry and scratchy when she got back to the lodge, but didn't think too much about it. The next morning she had excruciating pain on the left side of her face and couldn't open her left eye. We decided to take her into the clinic in San Martin de los Andes. On the way we learned that she had Global Rescue medical evacuation coverage so we called them from my cell phone in the car.
“We had heard reports about how good Global Rescue is in extreme medical emergencies and I wondered how this would go. We certainly had an emergency, but it wasn't like a fractured pelvis in the middle of Bolivia or something like that. We were in a comfortable vehicle a few minutes away from good medical care. Well, I have to tell you that our experience with Global Rescue was over the top. Not only did they stay in constant contact with us, but they wanted to know all the details of treatment and were very concerned about Mary's condition. Even after seeing a doctor in the local clinic and returning to the lodge, Global Rescue called several times to follow up on Mary and the treatment. We were all very impressed and decided right then and there that this is the medical evacuation company we want in any emergency while traveling anywhere!
“Mary suffered a cut cornea and has not had a comfortable week, but she continues to fish with an eye patch and she says it's getting better everyday.”
Thanks for sharing this story, Barry and Cathy. We wish you a speedy recovery, Mary!
by Drew Pache
Drew Pache is a Manager in Global Rescue’s Security Operations Department. Prior to joining Global Rescue, he spent 21 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Because people head outdoors for many different reasons and encounter different environments during different seasons, it is challenging to compile a “master list” to cover all outdoor activities. However, in my more than two decades in the military where I worked and lived in everything from Arctic cold to desert heat, there are some items that I found it hard to live without. The right equipment on the trail will not only keep you alive; it will also keep you comfortable and allow greater enjoyment of your trip, whatever your activity of choice may be.
In general, I divide my gear into three piles, suitable for 1) a larger backpack 2) a smaller day pack, or 3) to be either worn or kept in my pockets.
These items are for living and comfort and include the following:
The shelter, sleeping bag, and extra clothing are all dictated by the climate and location, as is the necessity of a mosquito net. I recommend waterproof bags to keep items dry. Food is obviously a necessity, but the type and the elaborateness of its preparation are completely up to you. I am pretty spartan about food on the trail, and literally have spent months eating cold food, even when hot chow was available. However, friends of mine have elevated back country cooking to an art form and can create a gourmet meal from the most meager ingredients. Needless to say, their skills didn’t hurt their popularity.
The second category of gear goes in the day pack. When camping or hunting, I usually hike in under the full load. Once camp is set, I venture out on shorter trips from there. The load is much lighter but you still need to have the basics on hand in case you get into trouble (or trouble finds you).
Items for the small pack:
--GPS w/ extra (rechargeable) batteries
--First aid kit
--Foam pad (for sitting in cold, snowy conditions)
--Sat phone / texting device (for very remote locations)
The solar charger, a recent addition to my kit, can charge my cell phone, GPS, headlamp and anything else that can be powered with rechargeable batteries. You can even clip it onto your pack and it will charge as you hike. Earlier on the Global Rescue blog, we featured a blog post on the contents of a good first aid kit. Even though this kit is light and packs smaller than you’d think, it will cover you through a variety of misadventures,
To be worn/ in pockets
These are the items I have on me at all times:
--Map of the area and a decent compass
GPS devices are one of the miracles of the modern world, but they can break or run out of batteries at the most inopportune times. It is also easier to terrain-associate with a map than with GPS. I definitely get a better feel for the lay of the land when I can see it on paper.
--Folding knife or multi-tool
Parachute cord is great because in a pinch it can be taken apart, or “gutted,” and the smaller strings inside the outer covering can be used individually. They don’t look like much but they are really strong!
--A pair of light but durable gloves
Hard experience has also taught me to protect my hands out there, regardless of the temperature. This prevents the painful scrapes and punctures that are inevitable when traveling in the back country.
--Some type of eye protection
This is important for more than just protection from the sun’s glare. Low branches can pose a nasty hazard, especially when moving in the woods after dark. An eye injury in the backcountry can be disabling and will virtually guarantee a trip to the local ER (if one is available).
The gear above is what I bring on most trips. It does not have to be fancy or high tech and generally the simplest solutions are the best.
Phil Powers, Executive Director of the American Alpine Club
(Photo courtesy of the American Alpine Club)
American Alpine Club Executive Director Phil Powers has led dozens of expeditions to South America, Alaska and Pakistan's Karakoram Range, including ascents of K2 and Gasherbrum II without supplemental oxygen. He made first ascents of the Washburn Face on Denali and of Lukpilla Brakk's Western Edge in Pakistan, as well as the first winter traverse of the Tetons' Cathedral Peaks.
Phil recently spoke with Global Rescue about the upcoming Himalayan season, the AAC’s new campgrounds, and the tremendous rise in popularity of climbing gyms.
Q. The climbing season in the Himalaya is under way now through the next few months. What are your expectations for this season?
A. In big ranges like the Himalaya, the combination of extreme objective hazard and human ambition lead to a huge potential for accidents. Samuli Mansikka, 36, and Pemba Sherpa, 35, were just killed this week while descending from a successful summit of Annapurna; the season is clearly under way. Global Rescue is very much aware of the propensity for accidents during this pre-monsoon season.
Q. What are the upcoming seasons for other popular climbing spots?
In addition to pre-monsoon in the Nepal Himalaya, there is also a season in the fall after the monsoon retreats. The Karakorum Himalaya, which is further from the influence of the Indian Ocean, has a summer season like North America. Most of the climbing in Alaska happens in late spring and early summer. In South America -- places like Aconcaqua or Patagonia -- climbers are active from December through February. Antarctica has a similar season.
Q. Tell us about the AAC’s new campgrounds. Have you seen a marked interest in camping by AAC members across the country?
We are just opening our newest at the gateway to the Shawangunks in New York. The Gunks campground has been a long time coming and we are really excited to finally open it. The campgrounds are for everybody (though AAC members get a discounted rate) and, yes, they are well-used.
Q. How is the popularity of climbing gyms impacting the climbing community? What things should people keep in mind as they transition from indoor to outdoor climbing?
A. Gyms are the biggest single trend facing climbing today, maybe ever. The Climbing Business Journal states that there are over 300 major gyms in the U.S. with 40 more opening this year. We estimate that about 2,000 people sign releases at those gyms every day. In other words, around 2,000 people are at least giving climbing a try every day. Some will stick with it and some will go outside. People get pretty strong and confident in a gym setting very quickly and making the move to outdoor climbing presents very real dangers. At the AAC, we are developing lesson plans and courses in partnership with regional clubs, like the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC), so we can meet this need. Interestingly, whether the accidents we see have to do with improper knots, lowering mistakes, or rappel errors, a majority of them have to do with not double-checking the systems you use. Climb with a partner you trust, communicate well, and check each other at every step. And of course, remember to get your Global Rescue membership before you head out – I know I will.
USMC SSgt. Charlie Linville during the 2014 Everest attempt (courtesy of The Heroes Project)
As the 2015 Himalayan climbing season begins, Global Rescue is proud to provide support to The Heroes Project and the group’s attempt to summit Mt. Everest this year. The Heroes Project was founded in 2009 and is comprised of three initiatives: (i) CLIMBS FOR HEROES which supports wounded veterans who climb mountains as part of their recovery process; (ii) HOPE FOR HEROES which supports community service programs that assist veterans and their families; and (iii) VOICE FOR HEROES which provides media support for veterans' issues.
To date, The Heroes Project team, including veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, has summited the highest peaks on six of the seven continents. Last year, an attempt to summit Everest was postponed following the tragic death of 16 Sherpas in an avalanche. This climbing season, The Heroes Project team, which includes USMC SSgt. Charlie Linville, will be attempting once again to summit Everest. A documentary on The Heroes Project and their completion of the Seven Summits is scheduled to be released in late 2015.
Global Rescue is proud to provide travel risk and crisis management services to The Heroes Project climbers as they make their push for the world’s highest summit.