Aussies rescued after spending night trapped on a mountain

Two Aussie climbers were rescued from the Remarkables (stock image) in New Zealand

A pair of Australian rock climbers were rescued on Saturday after becoming trapped on an exposed ledge in the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown.

The two had been attempting the Grand Traverse when inclement weather and dwindling daylight persuaded them to try and abseil down the western face of the mountains.

After becoming trapped on a ledge, they spent Friday night huddled and shivering on a high shelf of rock before being rescued by helicopter the next morning. 

The two didn’t realise until the next morning that they could call New Zealand emergency services from their Australian mobile phones.

They were rescued after dialling 111. 

‘They thought they could abseil down to Queen’s Drive to escape the situation,’ Chris Prudden, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR’s Alpine Cliff Rescue team, told the Otago Daily Times.

‘But once they were on the west face, they realised it was a much bigger deal than what they thought. So they ended on a ledge, very high up and in a quite exposed position, and spent the night there. They were both very cold.’

Mr Prudden commented that it would have been better to push on through the Grand Traverse than attempt the shortcut, which quickly becomes more difficult than it seems from above. 

‘The way off is actually to stay on the ridge and keep going,’ said Mr Prudder, adding that the rescue was ‘a good outcome’ for the situation.  

A six-strong team from ACR, Heliworks through the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust, the Rescue Coordination Centre, and police were involved in the rescue effort, which kicked off at about 6am on Saturday. 

The hikers had to spend the night on a cold, exposed rock shelf in the Remarkables (pictured)

The hikers had to spend the night on a cold, exposed rock shelf in the Remarkables (pictured)

‘We got a team together and went up,” Mr Prudden said. ‘It’s what we call a technical rescue, which means effectively there was nowhere to stand. We had trouble with the cloud initially, blowing across the face.

‘The first clearance we decided to go in and get them with a process called HET, Human External Transport – we basically hang underneath the helicopter. You need a number one pilot to do this, fly in there. 

Heliworks pilot Scott Dwyer flew into the area and found the stranded climbers, who were forced to leave some of their gear behind. It has been so cold throughout the night that one of the men’s helmets had frozen solid.

Two hikers were rescued and brought safely to Queenstown (pictured) on Saturday morning

Two hikers were rescued and brought safely to Queenstown (pictured) on Saturday morning

It was difficult for Mr Dwyer to keep the helicopter steady as Mr Prudder clipped the men into safety gear, guided them into the helicopter and returned them safely to the ground at about noon on Saturday.

The pair were uninjured, but were both suffering from cold, hunger and sleep-deprivation, Mr Prudden told

He recommended that hikers not attempt to abseil the Western face, because it’s a long way down and the men were not attached to bolt lines. 

‘The escape route from that particular position is to continue along the traverse, it’s gets easier the further you go along, or you can abseil down the east side with a lot more success.

‘We love to go in and try and help people. And in this case they were – if you like – our comrades. They were people who were out there climbing.’