Rescue a 'valuable lesson'
Karl Cossgrove knows how quickly things can go wrong in the mountains.
He also knows how quickly the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter can respond.
Cossgrove visited the helicopter's Nelson Airport base yesterday to thank its crew for his rescue high in the Nelson Lakes National Park two weeks ago.
The 23-year-old was on a solo hunting trip, heading along the Mt Robert ridge line on his way to the Angelus hut on July 15, when he slipped on hard ice covering the track.
In seconds he was sliding on his back down the mountain towards Lake Angelus about 100 metres below. Fortunately, a coffee-table sized rock stopped his fall but the impact left him with a badly injured right knee, on the side of the mountain, and with night closing in.
He managed to get back to the track but, unable to bend his injured knee, he realised he could not make it down a steep stretch to the hut.
He used his cellphone to call police and the rescue helicopter was dispatched. In the meantime, two trampers came across Cossgrove and one lent him poles to help him walk, but it was with a mixture of "embarrassment and relief" that he welcomed the helicopter's arrival only 20 minutes after he made the call.
Cossgrove didn't get any chamois or deer on the trip but yesterday he dropped off to the helicopter rescue crew some home-cured salami from previous successful expeditions.
He said he had learned some valuable lessons from his ordeal, including to always carry his emergency locator beacon, which he had left at home.
He had also gone on the hunt without crampons because he was not expecting the hard ice on the track.
"Just make sure you are extremely well prepared and don't underestimate the weather because anything can go wrong at any time," Cossgrove said.
He wanted people to be aware of the vital service the rescue helicopter crew provided.
"These guys are risking their lives to help us out there and definitely need the support."
Since the accident, the injured tendons in his knee have healed in time for him to take a physical test as part of his application to join the police in October. And, after his experience, search and rescue might be an area he would consider specialising in.
But for now he has farewelled the rescue crew. Yesterday he shook hands with helicopter crewman Paul "Ernie" Bryant and both of them wished not to meet again.
The Nelson Mail