World Media

Mt Aspiring climber rescued after four nights trapped

Mt Aspiring climber rescued after four nights trapped

An Australian soldier trapped by severe weather on a New Zealand mountain for almost a week is being flown to safety, with rescuers saying he was found in the nick of time.

"It had been a very hard day with the wind, cloud and snow conditions preventing the helicopters from reaching the climber on the mountain until this afternoon, when a weather window suddenly opened up", the rescue centre added.

Harch climbed the mountain last Friday and was expected back on Monday.

Mr Rogers said Mr Harch came out from his shelter and waved to the helicopter to let them know where he was.

Lunt said he assumed Lt Harch was an experienced climber whose army skills would have helped him survive the conditions. Harch sustained minor frostbite but otherwise was well.

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Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue co-ordinator Paul Rogers said Mr Harch, who is a serving Australian Army officer, was in good spirits.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand spokesman Neville Blackmore told the Otago Daily Times this morning the weather was improving only marginally and rescuers were still waiting for a "window of opportunity".

The rescue couldn't be done right away since the extreme weather prevented them from reaching the area.

During the almost seven days he was out alone, the man endured winds of up to 60km/h, freezing conditions and at times heavy snow.

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"It's a good place to hide to get out of the weather", Day said. "A snow cave is used as an emergency shelter", he said.

An Aussie man has been criticised for going on a solo trek in treacherous conditions as rescue teams plan to bring him down a New Zealand mountain after spending almost a week battling sub-zero temperatures and powerful winds.

There has been scattered rain which will ease and the wind chill is minus 16 degrees.

Spokesperson Pania Shingleton says the helicopter crews and police did an incredible job.

There had been "grave concerns" for the climber when it was found he had left most of his equipment in the French Ridge hut, and when his beacon did not move.

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Over the past decade more than 30 people have died in and around Mount Aspiring National Park, one of the country's most popular playgrounds for adventure-seekers.


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