Two climbers caught in a rockslide high in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park have been saved in a dramatic rescue operation.
The well-equipped pair in their 50s activated the distress alerting function of their InReach device last night at 5.30pm after the rockslide at 1800m on Mt D’Archiac in the Southern Alps.
The male climber had an arm badly broken in two places, concussion and a badly gashed leg while his female companion escaped relatively unharmed, said Neville Blakemore of Maritime NZ’s Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) who co-ordinated the rescue.
The woman managed to rope the injured climber onto the steep slope – some 50km north-east of Aoraki-Mount Cook – to prevent him from falling and suffering further injuries, search mission co-ordinator Blakemore said.
He believes that being able to activate their device may well have saved the injured climber’s life.
After the distress came through yesterday evening, RCCNZ tasked a Helicopter Line helicopter to fly from Mount Cook with a Department of Conservation alpine cliff rescue team on board.
However, they could not get to the scene of the rockslide because of heavy cloud.
Instead, they landed the rescue team at Godley Hut to wait overnight, watch the weather and keep in contact with RCCNZ.
Blakemore said RCCNZ had helicopters with night-flying equipment on stand-by in Christchurch and Greymouth.
Low cloud prevented the Christchurch helicopter flying but at 3am, during a break in the cloud in the mountains, the Greymouth Rescue Helicopter was able to fly to the scene and winch down the alpine cliff rescue team.
At 7.30am they flew the two climbers to Greymouth Hospital.
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