Lost tramper cries at sight of rescuers

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 12:01 05/03/2014
Jeremy and Lucy-Jane Walsh
JEREMY WALSH Zoom
Lucy-Jane Walsh outside the second of two caves she slept in on her two-day tramping ordeal with her father, Jeremy Walsh.

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The sight of a rescue helicopter coming to pluck lost trampers Lucy-Jane Walsh and her dad to safety brought tears to her eyes.

The 24-year-old and her father, Jeremy, 56, both of Christchurch, were rescued yesterday morning after spending two cold nights sleeping rough in makeshift rock shelters while lost on a tramp near Arthur's Pass.

"I'd been quite upset this morning because I was thinking ‘What if they're not looking for us or not looking in the right place'," Lucy-Jane Walsh said yesterday.

The pair left Christchurch early Saturday for an overnight tramp.

After parking at Klondyke Corner, they headed up the Waimakariri River to Carrington Hut and continued on to Waimakariri Falls Hut.

It was a tough tramp, she said.

"I knew it would be hard but Dad had said the first day would be the hardest and the next day would be easy. It turned out the other way around."

On Sunday, they got disoriented when thick fog rolled in and by 5pm were tired, wet and lost near Rolleston River's headwaters.

They found a large overhanging rock to shelter for the night.

Her mother alerted police on Sunday evening.

By daybreak Monday, it had started snowing.

They took a wrong turn and became lost again beside the river, trapped by treacherous terrain with no safe escape route.

It was about 4pm so they decided it was wisest to rough it for a second night in a large rocky shelter.

All they had to eat on Monday were a packet of noodles between them and some scroggin.

Yesterday, all they had left were two tea bags, some milk powder, a handful of cornflakes and a small piece of cheese.

The pair heard the rescue helicopter fly overhead about 8am but it failed to spot them. It returned about 15 minutes later.

"When they came back, I had my scarf, which is red, and was waving it at them." She cried when she realised they had been found.

The Alpine Cliff Rescue team airlifted them to safety.

Despite Lucy-Jane sporting some grazes and bruises on her lower back and thigh, both were in reasonable shape.

Constable Scott Carmody, of Arthur's Pass, said the pair had made some early bad decisions, which put them in danger.

"It's an extremely unforgiving environment. They were lucky it didn't turn out worse."

The pair, who had moderate tramping experience, agreed they had learned some lessons.

"We made some mistakes for sure," Jeremy Walsh said.

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- The Press

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