Taranaki climbers in stable condition
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 5:36a.m.
By 3 News online staff/3 News
Two climbers who dug themselves out of an avalanche on Mount Taranaki last night are in hospital, both in a stable condition.
The men triggered an avalanche not long after reaching the mountain's summit and survived being swept down the mountain.
According to Taranaki Rescue helicopter crewman Mike Johns, the men were not attached to each other and the avalanche had channelled them down a narrow valley.
After plunging 500 metres they were dumped just three metres apart. One of the men was buried, just his hand was poking out of the snow. His friend saw the hand and rushed to dig him out as he came close to suffocation.
A police spokesman yesterday said that the avalanche was minor and two rescue helicopters were on the scene to take the injured climbers to Taranaki Base Hospital.
The men, aged 37 and 40, suffered an ankle injury and a dislocated shoulder, respectively. They also both had mild cases of hypothermia.
“They had fallen about 1,500 feet [457 metres] in that avalanche so we picked them up around six-and-a-half thousand," says rescue helicopter crewman Barry Shepherd.
"It looked like it went for maybe 400 metres and not particularly deep, but there were a couple of guys off to the edge with a survival blanket and waving," says fellow crewman Sam Richmond.
The men called emergency services around 11am yesterday morning and were able to use their GPS unit to give their precise location.
Crewmen of the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter say the men were well-prepared and properly-equipped.
Conditions were almost perfect when rescue helicopters were called to the north side of the mountain.
Crewmen described the two men as being shaken but in good spirits after their rescue.
The climbers are expected to be released from hospital this morning.
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