Climbers rescued after 36 hrs in ice chute
Tue, 23 Oct 2012 6:01p.m.
By Jeff Hampton
Two ice climbers have been plucked from a cliff face in Fiordland, after being stuck there for more than 36 hours.
The climbers - an Irishman and a Frenchman - couldn't move up or down, and were eventually hauled into a scoop net dangling 50m beneath a Te Anau rescue helicopter.
They were spotted by chance on Mount Crosscut and rescued late this morning. Allan Uren of the Wanaka face rescue team, with pilot was Chris Green, came to rescue the pair.
Sgt Todd Hollobon of Te Anau police said another climber alerted police.
“We had a call from one of the climbers staying at the huts up there reporting two climbers stuck halfway up Mount Crosscut there. [He said he’d] just gone to have a look, they're certainly in a pretty precarious position there.”
Mr Uren was suspended in a scoop net slung 50m below the helicopter as the helicopter manoeuvred close to the mountain to pick up the two men stranded 1700m up the mountain.
Mr Green took the B3 Squirrel helicopter within metres of the mountain. A westerly wind blew, but the rescue spot was sheltered. Their biggest worry was setting off an avalanche.
Later, safe back on the ground, Irishman Danny Murphy said he wasn't used to the snow ice on the mountain, which is difficult to anchor on.
“The two of us haven't done a huge amount of it, so we kind of got in a bit over our heads.”
The pair were reported overdue yesterday, but when a helicopter checked on them they waved an emergency shelter, so it was thought they were fine.
“And we were waving that, and we think someone saw that originally yesterday and a chopper came up, they thought we were okay but we actually needed to be rescued so there was a miscommunication," says Mr Murphy. "So we dug a snow cave and went into that overnight, but it was pretty cold though.”
Mr Uren says it was not too hard to get to them.
“Where they were was a very steep site. They were really comfortable because they stayed put and weren't injured. It was always going to be a simple pick-up and things went really well.”
Mr Murphy and his French companion are looking forward to a far more comfortable sleep, tucked up in bed instead of a snow cave.
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24/10/2012 1:24:15 a.m.
Age old question: is it better to do what has always pushed humankind ahead - exploring our limits and developing our skills with an element of risk - or is it better to lay on the couch watching tv and eating crisps, ensuring there will be no "risky" outdoor activities whatsoever? Nevermind the cost to tax payers when treating self accumulated lifestyle diseases due to obesity and inactivity... Nowadays for some reason climbing, especially mountaineering, seems to get such a bad rep compared to other outdoor activities/indoor sports. I'm pretty sure there is tax payer's money being "wasted" on way less important things than few and far helicopter rescues amongst numerous successful expeditions. There is element of risk in everything. A physiotherapist I know mentioned that the amount of injuries (with ACC funded aftercare) in people dancing Zumba (!) was unbelievable. You are not safe even at the indoor gym.
PLBs are a good thing - however, they are a mechanical device with their limitations and wont as such save anybody's life unless rescue is for example weatherwise possible. Until rescue is possible, the climber/hunter/tramper has to survive by their own means. These climbers had left their intentions with the fellow climbers in the hut, making sure they would be missed and alarm raised if overdue, which is exactly what happened. Unfortunately pilot seem to have misunderstood their sign that rescue was needed and they had to stay overnight, digging a snow hole. Great thinking on their part was to carry an emergency survival shelter. Their location and climbing route was known so there was no money spent on search. Btw, PLBs do not work unless activated - which requires a conscious person. Leaving intentions can save one's life.
Surely Sir Edmund Hillary had some not so successful expeditions as well and still he became a worldwide known New Zealander - probably the most so - and for a lot of people "the" true iconic Kiwi representing the values of the nation.
24/10/2012 12:11:42 a.m.
bella sheehan wrote:
being an ex kiwi from southland enjoyed seeing this clip
23/10/2012 9:44:24 p.m.
Truly heart rendering story! However, if others hadn't reported these climbers they most probably would have perished while exercising their "rights" no doubt to take risks! Sorry not acceptable or necessary or reasonable in this day and age of modern emergency technology! When is the NZ Government going to get "real" and get "tough" with those that put rescuer's lives at risk and waste taxpayers money with these rescues when they get themselves into grief while exercising their "right" to be independent and seek adventure? Climbers and back country adventurers involved in potentially high risk activities and or in high risk areas should be required under NZ law to carry Personal Locators Beacons (PLB's) which are a reasonable and practicable step they can take to mitigate the risks to themselves and to mitigate the risks (and costs) to potential rescuers! We are talking a few hundred dollars here to purchase a PLB for Gods sake and a lot less to hire such a potentially life saving device!!Make PLB's compulsory kit for climbers and back-country adventurers - do it for their own sake, the sake of rescuers and for that of the taxpayer!
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