‘Eat snow & pray’: Helicopter pilot rescued after four nights stranded on freezing mountain A helicopter pilot has survived four days on a snowy mountain without food or water, jogging around the ruined helicopter wreckage, doing pushups, and eating snow to stay alive in Russia’s coldest region.

Alexander Novoseltsev was flying his Robinson helicopter from Srednekolymsk, a town in the north east of Russia, to Yakutsk, the capital of Russia’s Sakha Republic - notorious for its cold temperatures, when he crashed on a snowy mountain.

Novoseltsev was midway into his trip, flying near the Chersky ridge - which he later described as a “death trap”, when a snow shower started and he crashed into a gorge.

What followed were days of staving off death against all odds. Novoseltsev immediately sent an SOS signal. “My clothes is thin, I‘m freezing. The gorge is narrow. It will be hard to land MI-8 [helicopter] here,” he wrote, providing his location. Then, all Novoseltsev could do was wait for rescue crews in temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees celsius (−5°C).

Although rescue teams were sent straight away, their efforts were hampered by bad weather. The crash happened on September 29, and the next day, rescuers approached the foot of the 2,400 meter (7,874 ft) tall mountain. They had a further 1,600 meters (5,250 ft) to climb before they would reach the marooned helicopter pilot. Then neither the crew nor the rescue helicopter could go up because of the blizzard.

On October 2 rescuers told the pilot’s wife Elena Novoseltseva to “prepare for the worst” as hopes were dim.

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She called on locals to help with a search according to the Siberian Times, saying that her husband was “waiting for help, [wearing] one thin padded jacket.””His 11-year-old son is waiting for him, who does not yet know what happened,” she said. “We feel that our man is dying.”

The next day a rescue helicopter confirmed Novoseltsev was still alive. He had barely slept, had been doing exercise and had been rubbing his arms and legs to stop them from freezing. He also kept a positive attitude and thought about his relatives and friends to keep him going.

“I knew to the last that everything would be fine,” Novoseltsev told reporters after his rescue, adding that he survived because he “ate snow and prayed.”

Medical experts in Momsky district hospital checked the very cold, but very relieved pilot. Doctor Yuri Ponomarev told the media that his condition was “satisfactory” and “nothing [has] happened to his health.”

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