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Mountain rescue on the Gauli Glacier, Switzerland, November 23/24, 1946

A remarkable rescue operation begins in Rosenlaui near Meiringen, Saturday, 23 November, 1946, 04.15h: In snowfall and fog, the first heavily-laden 50-man rescue party leaves Rosenlaui on foot to reach the C-53 survivors on the Gauli Glacier at 3350m. The rescue party climbs nine kilometers through heavy snowfall for more than 13 hours, ascending 2500m until they finally reach – completely exhausted – the accident site, delivering critical first aid supplies. However, transporting the injured off the mountain on foot and on sleds could take 36 hours – unthinkable in the still deteriorating weather.

After several reconnaissance flights, Viktor Hug announces his plan to land a small but iconic Fi-156 Fieseler Storch of the Swiss Army on the glacier plateau. “The technical know-how and the experience from over 200 landings in the mountains were the basis for our decision to execute a mountain rescue of this extent and, for that matter, the very first of its kind. It was not haphazard, but rather a sound and deliberate operation.”

Thanks to the two Fieseler Storchs and the courageous and selfless actions of the rescue team, the twelve survivors are successfully airlifted from the glacier to Meiringen in the valley far below. The events cause a world sensation and the birth of aviation mountain rescue operations.

Falling snow blankets the crash site, and after four days the wrecked craft is completely enshrouded with snow. When will the Gauli Glacier release it again?