Climber breaks arm in Mt Taranaki avalanche

The rescue (Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust)
The rescue (Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust)

Three tourist climbers were winched from Mt Taranaki on Sunday night by the Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter.

The men had been caught in an avalanche and injured while waiting to be rescued after becoming trapped.

One of the group, a 35-year-old, has a broken arm and is in a stable condition awaiting surgery while the others minor injuries after being hit by lumps of rock and ice as big as footballs.

The alarm had been raised in the afternoon by someone who had seen the men on a track on Mt Taranaki's eastern face and was concerned they wouldn't make it down.

The helicopter, with two Alpine Rescue volunteers on board, took off from New Plymouth at around 6:30pm.

They located the stranded party on the eastern side of Mt Taranaki at approximately 1800m in altitude, close to a feature known as the Policeman.

With the pilot and crew of the helicopter using night vision goggles, the rescuers were winched to a ridge further north of the group and traversed across to the stranded party.

Due to the conditions, a third rescuer was collected from the Stratford Plateau and winched onto the mountain to assist with the group.

Rescuers encountered difficult conditions on the 40 to 45 degree mountain slopes.

Ice falling from above the group made the rescue operation even more challenging.

"When the rescuers arrived they had to navigate falling rocks and lumps of ice, ranging from the size of a golf ball to a football," police said in a statement.

"Police are pleased the rescue operation was a success and that everyone is now safely off the mountain."

All three climbers were winched individually to the Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter and flown to Taranaki Base Hospital.


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