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Mountaineers rescued in central Taiwan after altitude sickness

Climbers without insurance or emergency rescue capabilities fined minimum NT$20,000

Altitude sickness leads to mountain rescue. ( Taichung Fire Department photo)

Altitude sickness leads to mountain rescue. ( Taichung Fire Department photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A seven-member mountaineering team scaling Hsuehshan East Peak (雪山東峰) encountered altitude sickness on Friday (Feb. 2).

Extreme altitude sickness struck one group member, a 47-year-old female, who suffered from weakness in the limbs, dizziness, and vomiting. Her blood oxygen level had fallen to 88%, per UDN.

The Taichung City Fire Department received a call at 4:43 p.m., and fortunately, three firefighters were already in the mountainous area for a training exercise. They made contact with the mountaineering team at around 10 p.m.

The firefighters took turns carrying the sick climber down to the trailhead, where an awaiting ambulance sent her to a nearby hospital.

Although the climber was successfully rescued, the fire department said the mountaineering team would face a minimum fine of NT$20,000 (US$600) for not possessing emergency rescue insurance or capabilities. Regulations state that a search and rescue fee would also be recovered, with an additional penalty for failing to care for team members.

On Dec. 23, 2023, a man surnamed Chen (陳) and his girlfriend set off to climb Mount Pintian but became lost and suffered from hypothermia. The Taichung City Fire Department sent four people for the rescue operation, locating the couple the following day with a helicopter.

The two were found not to have a hiking permit, insurance, or emergency rescue capabilities. For this reason, they were each fined NT$20,000 and forced to pay all search and rescue costs.