Rescued climber 'did everything right'

JESSICA MADDOCK IN WANAKA
Last updated 09:55 19/11/2012

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A Canadian climber rescued from Mount Aspiring yesterday survived because he did everything right, police say.

Sergeant Paul Crosswell of Wanaka said the 27-year-old reached the summit of the mountain on Friday. He was descending on Saturday when the weather closed in  and he became disorientated.

The man made a snow cave for shelter.

His father was following his progress from Australia, using an internet GPS service called Spot Tracker.

He became worried when the equipment showed his son had not moved for several hours and he contacted the Wanaka police.

"We assessed his movements. There were two options - he'd either come to grief or he'd hunkered down out of the weather," Mr Crosswell said.

The LandSAR alpine cliff rescue team attempted to rescue the man using a helicopter on Saturday morning but they were unsuccessful due to the weather.

Soon after the man sent his father a text message saying he was cold, wet and lost.

He also activated the distress signal on his tracking device.

"So we knew he was still alive but he couldn't make his own way down."

The weather cleared on Sunday allowing the rescuers to winch the man to safety.

Mr Crosswell said the man had all the right equipment for an unexpected night on the mountain.

However, he said it was unwise to climb alone at high altitude, particularly at this time of year when there was a lot of snow.

The man's level of experience was unknown, Mr Crosswell said.

He was suffering from dehydration and snow-blindness and was treated at the Wanaka Medical Centre.

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