Richard Branson's Son Airlifted from Matterhorn

Dramatic helicopter rescue just below the summit

Sep 4, 2014
Outside Magazine
Sam Branson Richard Branson Matterhorn Virgin Challenge

Nearly 600 climbers have died on the Matterhorn.    Francisco Antunes/Flickr

The son of swashbuckling billionaire Sir Richard Branson was airlifted off the Matterhorn on Wednesday shortly after reaching the summit.

The 29-year-old Sam Branson was climbing the mountain as part of the Virgin Strive Challenge, a charity initiative in which a team of 10 adventurers traveled without the aid of motorized vehicles from London to the top of the 14,692-foot peak on the border of Switzerland and Italy.

In a blog post on, Richard Branson explains that his son was suffering from "horrific altitude sickness" on his way to the Matterhorn's summit. He was having difficulty breathing and was "retching uncontrollably." When the younger Branson was only a few hundred feet from the summit, the lead guide from Dream Guides tried to convince him to accept a helicopter rescue, but he would not be deterred so close to the end and, with a final push, made it to the top of the mountain.

Branson was unable make the descent, however, as he was constantly retching and teetering on the brink of consciousness. Richard Branson witnessed the entire episode from a helicopter. "I watched all of the drama unfold and felt totally helpless," he wrote.

The ailing Branson was brought to the base of the peak and is recovering.

"Having experienced eight helicopter rescues myself, it clearly runs in the family," wrote Richard Branson.

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