#452: Rescue operation - 2020-02-24


When she stopped being dizzy from her spiralling descent, Eliana stood up and started knocking on the door of the ranger's cabin, that still had its lights on. Inside the cabin, two Carabineros chatted with the ranger; one of them opened the door to Eliana.

— Wow, a little girl! What's going on? Are you lost? What are you doing in this place?

— My sister, sir! She had an accident, and I think that she broke some legs!

— Where is your sister?

— We found shelter at a cave in the mountain. Is that helicopter yours? I can guide you there!

— Up there in the mountain. Really. — the policeman didn't believe Eliana at first.

— There is frost in your hair, so it must be quite high up. — the other cop noted — The zero Celsius hypotherm is above 2000 meters of altitude.

— That's right! And we need to go right now! It's an emergency!

— Okay, let's go. I am the helicopter's pilot.

Then, without further ado, Eliana and the Carabineros walked to where the helicopter was parked, curiously just next to the cabin. Before starting the flight, Eliana pointed insistently to the summit of the Sierra Velluda.

The helicopter quickly gained altitude, and moved towards the point indicated by Eliana. The pilot couldn't believe that the girl's precise commands brought them to a place he considered quite difficult to access.

— What amazes me the most is that you could be able to find the way to the cabin from up there, in such a dark night.

— If I told you how I did so, you wouldn't believe me. Anyways, I brought these lights with me, though they didn't help much.

— How long did it take you?

— You wouldn't believe me, either. Now we must cross that steep place.

— But there's no path to that place!

— There is a one. That's my great-great-grandmother's secret. She brought us there.

— Wait, did you say “great-great-grandmother”? How old is she?

— She's 102. But you wouldn't believe it if you saw her. She's in great physical shape.

— Well, she must be the oldest mountaineer of the world. And who else is there, besides you sister and her?

— Two brothers. The oldest is 16, the youngest is 10, and my sister is 14.

— And you? How old you are?

— I'm 12.

— But you look 8 or 9. Are you all like that in your family?

— No, my siblings look about their same age.


Soon, already close to the summit, the pilot found a canyon that wa unknown to him, and that didn't appear on his maps. Over a ledge in the canyon, there was a campfire, and an adolescent man waved his hands to call the attention of the helicopter.

Rosa was lying over the ice, awake but unresponsive. Pedro walked from inside the cave, and joined Hugo on his waving.

The rescue man descended using a rope ladder, with a stretcher. Eliana followed him.

— That's cool! You arrived soon! — Hugo said.

— How are you, Rosa?

Rosa stared at Eliana, but didn't answer.

— At least we could contain the bleeding. Rosa is very weak. The great-great-grandmother is inside the cave, sleeping.

— I'm going to wake her up. Please help the rescue man.

But María was already woken up by the helicopter's noise. The rescue man entered the cave to take a look.

— Are those all your belongings?

— Yeah, backpacks and sleeping bags.

— They all fit in the helicopter. You all are going to climb, one by one, up the ladder.

Rosa, on the stretcher, was the first to be raised to the helicopter, and Hugo was the last to climb.

After María's insistence, they decided to fly directly to the Hospital of Chillán, though Los Ángeles was closer.