AS350 Plucks Alaska Climber at nearly 20,000 feet

 - June 24, 2011, 3:59 AM

A Eurocopter AS350 B3 performed one of the highest-altitude rescues on record in May when it rescued an injured climber off Alaska’s Mount McKinley just below the summit at 19,833 feet. Temsco was operating the helicopter under an exclusive-use contract for the National Park Service in the Denali National Park and Preserve. The climber had broken a leg in a fall. Rescue conditions were less than ideal, with gusty wind and extreme cold.

Temsco pilot Andreas Hermansky said he knew the helicopter could handle the rescue because he had previously flown it to McKinley’s summit at 20,320 feet on several occasions. Temsco worked with Eurocopter in shaping development of the B3 based on its continuing requirements for high-altitude work for search-and-rescue, geological surveys, field work, firefighting and construction. 

The company recently took delivery of its fourth B3 and has operated AStars since 1983. More than 1,000 climbers register to climb McKinley annually, and a National Parks spokesman said that between 15 and 20 of those climbs end in search-and-rescue missions and evacuations.