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Chilling account of how RAF officer fell 3,300ft to his death in the Himalayas

An RAF mountaineer died in Pakistan after falling 3,300ft off one of the highest peaks on Earth, in the Himalayas.

Francois Cazzanelli saw RAF Wing Commander Gordon Henderson, from Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland, lose his balance and plunge about 3,300ft as he tried to reach the top of Broad Peak in the Karakoram mountains, on the border of Pakistan and China.

The dad-of-two, an extremely experienced climber, was taking part in the British Services Mountaineering Expedition to Broad Peak, which sits close to the Chinese border around five miles from K2 when he ran into difficulty.

The expedition is to climb the 26,414ft mountain, which is the 12th highest mountain in the world.

Trekkers and porters trekking on Godwin-Austen glacier towards Broad peak base camp in northern Pakistan (Getty Images)

Wing Commander Henderson, who studied at Heriot-Watt University and served in Afghanistan, is survived by his wife Kerry, with the family also understood to have links to San Antonio in Texas.

Mr Cazzanelli, an Italian climber and mountain guide, was also attempting the ascent when he witnessed the tragedy on July 19.

Mr Cazzanelli said he gave a nod to the RAF officer, indicating that he could go first and just as he did, Henderson prepared to turn, and took one step "but his rucksack bashed against the rock face."

"He lost his balance and he was spun forward. He slid for just a moment, then he fell head first. He disappeared without even crying out. I was speechless, rooted to the spot,” Mr Cazzanelli, told La Stampa, an Italian newspaper, on Wednesday.

Mr Cazzanelli descended back down the mountain to reach base camp, where he informed Henderson’s colleagues of the accident.

They showed him a photo to check it was him.

Broad Peak part of Gasherbrum massif on border of Pakistan and China (Getty Images)

"It was Gordon,” Mr Cazzanelli said.

The RAF said its "thoughts are with Wing Commander Henderson’s family, friends and colleagues at this dreadful time.”

The British Services Mountaineering Expedition’s Pakistan 2022 mission was due to travel “the length of the infamous Baltoro Glacier” before visiting the Broad Peak and K2 base camps and ascending the Gondogoro La pass at 5,600m.

Following a period of acclimatisation, the team, which included members of the Pakistani Armed Forces, was due to focus on the main ascent of Broad Peak, which sits at 8,051m.

It comes after a young mountaineer took a grinning selfie and sent it to his family just moments before he was tragically killed in an avalanche.

Filippo Bari, 27, had gone climbing Marmolada, a mountain in northeastern Italy, which at 10,968 feet is the highest mountain in the Dolomites mountain range, with a group of friends.

The Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence have been approached for a comment.

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