A 62-year-old climber has been airlifted to safety after falling from a ridge near the top of Mt Ruapehu.
The Auckland man was climbing a vertical, icy rock face near the top of Pinnacle Ridge, at an altitude of about 2,225 metres, when he slipped and fell about five metres shortly after 1pm.
His climbing ropes saved him from falling several hundred metres, leaving him dangling until help arrived.
Greenlea Rescue Helicopter pilot Nat Every said the climber was visible from the Whakapapa ski field. It was members of the public who saw him and raised the alarm.
A search and rescue operation was launched by National Park Police with help from the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation, Land Search and Rescue volunteers and the Whakapapa ski patrol.
The rescue helicopter used a static line to get a member of the rescue team to the climber, who was put in a harness. The pair were then airlifted from the cliff face and flown to a flat area above the ski field.
The climber had cuts and grazes on his body and what appeared to be a gash on his head, Every said.
‘‘I understand he might have been unconscious for a time, which suggests he hit his head. He was wearing a helmet though.’’
The climber was stabilised at the scene by paramedics before being transported to Waikato Hospital.
It was understood the climber’s fall had been caused by a rock giving way, Every said.
‘‘He was well prepared ... if he had fallen from there without a safety rope, he would have been exceptionally lucky to survive.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News
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