RAF officer plunges 3,300ft to death 'without crying out' in Himalayas

RAF wing commander father-of-two plunged 3,300ft headfirst to his death ‘without even crying out’ after catching his rucksack on a rock during military expedition in the Himalayas

  • Gordon Henderson from Fife was scaling the 26,414ft Broad Peak mountain
  • Just 39ft from the summit, his rucksack caught a rock and he toppled over side
  • Mountain guide Francois Cazzanelli said the officer didn’t even cry out as he fell 

An RAF hero father-of-two has plunged 3,300ft headfirst to his death in the Himalayas during a climbing expedition ‘without even crying out’.

Wing Commander Gordon Henderson lost his balance while scaling the 26,414ft Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain in the world, on the border of Pakistan and China.

The Afghanistan veteran from Dunfermline in Fife, who was accompanied by Italian mountain guide Francois Cazzanelli, was taking part in a British Services Mountaineering Expedition when he plummeted on July 19.

Wing Commander Gordon Henderson has plunged 3,300ft headfirst to his death in the Himalayas during a climbing expedition ‘without even crying out’

Cazzanelli said they were just 39ft from the summit when Henderson knocked his rucksack against a rock which made him lose his balance and topple over the edge.

He told La Stampa: ‘He disappeared without even crying out. I was speechless, rooted to the spot.

‘He had a rucksack on his back, just as I did. He turned, preparing to start climbing. He 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.’

Cazzanelli then frantically descended to the nearest camp to alert his colleagues.  

The RAF said in a statement: ‘The Royal Air Force is deeply saddened to announce that Wing Commander Gordon Henderson is missing, believed killed, on Broad Peak Mountain in Pakistan.

‘Wing Commander Henderson went missing on July 19, 2022, whilst participating in the British Services Mountaineering Expedition.

Wing Commander Gordon Henderson lost his balance while scaling the 26,414ft Broad Peak (pictured), the 12th highest mountain in the world

‘Our thoughts are with Wing Commander Henderson’s family, friends and colleagues at this dreadful time.

‘We would remind you that further speculation is unhelpful, and we ask that the family’s privacy is respected.’

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.

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 18,400ft.

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.

A statement from the RAF Mountaineering Association said: ‘RAF Mountaineering is deeply saddened to announce that Wing Commander Gordon Henderson is reported missing, believed killed, on Broad Peak, Pakistan.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.’

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