A lone Argentine mountaineer has been rescued Thursday after being trapped on Canada’s highest peak for four days.
Natalia Martinez, 37, was nine days into her solo climb of Mount Logan (5,959 meters) when a series of earthquakes hit the Yukon region on Monday. Multiple avalanches were triggered and left Martinez surrounded by unstable terrain.
"Natalia is back with us safe and sound," Martinez’s partner Camilo Rada shared the news on a website post. “I can not be happier now!”
Martinez was described as an experienced climber, who had been on Mt. Logan before and faced extreme conditions in the Patagonia region of South America. Back home, she is also a professional ski instructor and mountaineering guide.
When those earthquakes hit, Martinez felt as if "the mountain was falling apart," Rada, who had been in touch with Martinez by satellite phone, said to CBC News.
"She felt that all the ground under her camp subsided and moved a lot, and of course she was very scared," he said.
When she realized that continuing her journey was out of question, Martinez contacted Rada for a helicopter rescue.
Martínez had to endure temperatures of minus-20 degrees Celsisu, battle strong winds and shovel her tent out of snow every couple of hours to avoid being buried in the blowing snow while she waited for the rescue to arrive.
Mountain pilot Tom Bradley, who dropped her off last month to begin the ascent, had earlier told the BBC the ordeal had been "a real rollercoaster for her."
Martinez has food and fuel, but the strong winds had made it impossible for her to light her stove to cook food or melt snow to drink, Bradley said.
"She was getting pretty weak over the last couple of days," he said.
The initial rescue attempt was postponed to Friday because of bad weather. But on Thursday, Bradley, who was in a neighboring area, observed an improvement in the conditions and passed the information to the rescue team.
“The rescue team was launched around 7:30 p.m. local time, heading for a successful operation that ended at 22:30 p.m.,” Rada said in his post.
An average of 25 climbers try to reach the summit of Mt Logan every year, but Parks Canada officials say solo attempts are rare.