INTRODUCTION: Africa's second highest mountain, Mount Kenya, lures thousands of climbers each year to test their skill and endurance against its ragged volcanic slopes.
AERIAL V Rescue plane flying towards Mount Kenya (2 shots)
AV Plane flying over jungle
AV Plane flying over glacier lake (2 shots)
AV Plane passing glacier
SV Warden Phil Snyder with rescue team examining mountaineer
SV Rescue team descending with stretcher (2 shots)
SV Rescuers walking through mud and water (2 shots)
CU Stretcher-bearers changing and continuing down mountain (3 shots)
SV Stretcher put into Land Rover
CU Warden talking to mountaineer
SV Land Rover down mountain road (3 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Africa's second highest mountain, Mount Kenya, lures thousands of climbers each year to test their skill and endurance against its ragged volcanic slopes. A West German mountain climber attempted to conquer Mount Kenya's Batian and Nelion peaks last February. The thin air trapped him high on the mountain for six days, and his life was saved thanks to a skilled rescue operation headed by the warden of Kenya's National Park, Phil Snyder.
SYNOPSIS: Mount Kenya, an extinct volcano after which the east African republic of Kenya is named, points 5,199 metres (17,058 feet) into the sky. A ring of dense forest covers the mountain slopes up to a height of about 3,200 metres (10,500 feet). The last 700 metres (2,000 feet) below the peak is bare rock and snow. Twelve small glaciers flow on Mount Kenya's slopes making a climb even more difficult. It is possible to drive to a height of about 3,000 metres (10,000 feet). After that the climber is on his own, and the last 2,000 metres (6,000 feet) are the most dangerous.
For the West Germany climber, Mount Kenya almost proved deadly. Only the speedy rescue by Phil Snyder saved his life. The climber, accompanied by an experienced mountain guide reached a bivouac camp 300 metres (1,000 feet) below the summit. He developed influenza and complained of tiredness and weakness. As his symptoms worsened, luck played a large part in his rescue. Two African porters arrived at the bivouac and were able to carry him down the rocks to meet Phil Snyder's rescue team.
But the rescuers soon encountered more problems. A downpour softened the ground to mud. The mountaineer, delirious and unconscious at the time, later remembered the heavy rain and his stretcher-bearers jumping from one patch of grass to another to avoid sinking in the mud. The climber and his guide were in their temporary camp for five days before they could start their descent. At that stage a high fever made the climber confused and at times, paralysed.
The mountaineer is experienced in tackling high altitudes. He later attributed his difficulties to a combination of the altitude and his influenza. His problems caused him to suffer temporary amnesia, but he was conscious of fear for his life throughout the Mount Kenya descent.
The climber reached Mathari hospital in Nyeri -- some 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the mountain -- barely conscious and with his circulatory system virtually collapsed. But two months after his accident, he is back at work and insists he will try again. This time, he says, he will conquer Mount Kenya.