Swedes in Antarctic mountain rescue bid

Two Swedish mountain climbers were on Sunday involved in a dramatic rescue attempt on Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.

Olof Sundström, 26, and Martin Letzter, 25, said that they became aware that a group of climbers had got into trouble at a height of around 4,000 metres. One person is thought to have fallen down a glacial crevasse and three people were suffering from severe hypothermia.

The Swedes, who were some way below the group, attempted to rescue them but they were held back by poor weather and high winds.

“The wind is far too strong and visibilty is down to about 25 metres,” said Martin Letzter on a audio file on the climbers web site.

Sundström and Letzter were forced to return to their base at an altitude of around 3,400 metres.

“It’s quite simply impossible to get up this 45 degree slope,” said Letzter.

Another group of climbers made a rescue bid too, but they were also forced to give up.

Sundström and Letzter said they hoped to make a new attempt when the weather eased off.

There was no information on the audio message about the identities of the climbers in trouble, but Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that no Swedes were reported missing.

Letzter and Sundström are experienced climbers who last week reached the summit of Mount Vinston. That rounded off their challenge to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents. Their achievement was matched on Saturday by another Swede, 29 year old Fredrik Sträng, who also finished off with Mount Vinston.