Climber falls 300m - serious

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014

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A 25-year-old man suffered serious head injuries in a 300 metre fall on Mt Ruapehu yesterday morning.

He was in serious but stable condition in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit last night.

Police said a group of climbers were climbing on the Pinnacle Ridge, Whakapapa when the man fell on ice and slid in an area known as Grand Gully.

Whakapapa Ski Patrol attended to the man and he was later taken to hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Westpac Rescue pilot Grant Bremner said rescuers reached the man on foot. He was then taken to Mt Ruapehu Medical Centre, where he lost consciousness.

"He fell right down to the bottom of the mountain," Bremner said.

He was stabilised at the clinic before being flown to hospital.

At the same time the rescue was under way, a search and rescue began for a woman from the same climbing party who became stuck on the top of the Pinnacles and was unable to continue.

Four members of the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation were airlifted to the area by Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter to rescue the 23-year-old. She was retrieved safely.

The group were well equipped and experienced and weather conditions were fine at the time, police said.

Meanwhile, the Australian commando who fell to his death on Wednesday during a training exercise on Aoraki/Mt Cook has been named.

Sergeant Gary Francis, 44, was one of the world's best mountain warfare experts, news.com.au reported.

Alpine Guides ski guide Ben Taylor said Francis had more experience than the rest of the group combined.

Taylor, who helped recover Francis' body, said the instructor had been probing for crevasses on an ice bridge. A square metre of snow collapsed around him and he fell 40m.

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- Waikato Times

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