Emergency airlift for Mount Kinabalu climb
A TEAM of experienced climbers retracing the route taken by an early British expedition to the summit of Asia's highest peak, Mount Kinabalu, had to call for help when a member was injured in a fall.
Dr Rene Fabert, the French executive director of the Outward Bound School in Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah capital, slipped and fell as the team was making its way up a forested slope more than 3,000 metres up the 4,101 metre mountain on Monday afternoon.
After it was decided the jungle terrain was too difficult to abseil off the slope with the injured man, team leader Tengku Zainal Adlin, deputy director of the Sabah Foundation, used a mobile telephone to call Sabah Air and seek assistance.
Sabah Air passed on the request to the Labuan base of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
An air force helicopter spotted members of the expedition signalling with torches on the mountainside on Monday evening.
The first attempt to rescue the injured man by helicopter was abandoned due to bad weather. In a second try early yesterday morning, Dr Fabert was winched to safety and flown to Kota Kinabalu, where he was treated for head injuries and fractured ribs.
Following Dr Fabert's rescue, the rest of the team continued the climb and reached the summit yesterday afternoon.
Before the team set out, Mr Tengku had forecast that the climb would be tough because the route had not been used since Sir Hugh Low, who was British Resident in Perak state, climbed Mount Kinabalu in 1855.
But members of the team were all experienced in jungle survival and climbing. They included Kinabalu Parks warden Eric Wong, the former president of the United States Alpine Club James Henriot and the club's former secretary Edward Valli, as well as a park ranger.
The team was flagged off at the start of the climb by the Sabah Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Wilfred Bumburing.