179 climbers and one rescue copter make summit
Climbers and copter make summitISOBEL EWING
A dislodged rock which struck a woman made a blot on an otherwise great event on Mt Taranaki at the weekend.
Taranaki Alpine Club held its annual open climb on Saturday with 179 climbers taking on the challenge.
The woman in her 40s was struck by a tumbling rock on the summit, injuring her arm.
She was treated by two doctors in the Taranaki Alpine Club and then by St John paramedics before being airlifted to Taranaki Base Hospital.
The Taranaki Community Helicopter was able to land on the summit thanks to Taranaki Alpine Club members clearing rocks to create a landing site.
Club member Jeremy Beckers said it was a shame the runaway rock had put a dampener on the day.
"It's frustrating really because the club has gone to huge efforts to put everything in place correctly, but there's still risk you can't avoid."
The rock came from above as the woman was descending.
Although other climbers yelled out warnings to the woman, she was unable to get out of its path in time.
Mr Beckers said it was a beautiful clear day above the cloud.
"Little wind, a light breeze, it was perfect conditions."
He said the helicopter crew had done a good job of landing and retrieving the woman.
"Often you've got winds and down drafts which can make things tricky, and if a lot of people are up there it also makes it challenging."
Club vice-president Matthen Penn said they were prepared as best they could but alpine conditions were unpredictable.
"It was a small part of a big day with a huge commitment from heaps of people.
"The climb's pretty unique in the country, it should be something as a region we're proud of."
There were 61 club members, including trained alpine medics and doctors, accompanying the 179 climbers to offer encouragement and assistance.
Among the bunch was 73-year-old Pauline Carr, who summited Mt Taranaki for the second time after taking part in the open climb last year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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