Couple awaiting rescue off Ball Pass Aoraki/Mt Cook today

10 January 2019

A couple in their 60s are currently awaiting rescue off Ball Pass Aoraki/Mt Cook after bad weather and severe exhaustion meant they could not get themselves to safety, requiring the assistance of the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) and staff from The Department of Conservation (DOC) alpine rescue team.

RCCNZ Manager Kevin Banaghan said that his team first received an alert from a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) at 2pm yesterday that was located in the Ball Pass of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.

“Due to unfavourable weather conditions a rescue helicopter was unable to reach the pair so a team of four cliff rescuers were dropped at Caroline Hutt who were then able to climb up to them. They found the couple mentally and physically exhausted having experienced a few falls. The decision was made to spend the night in the lee of the Ball Pass,” said Mr Banaghan.

DOC Senior Ranger in charge of Search and Rescue and Recreation in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, David Dittmer, said before exploring the Park, people should make sure they have the right safety equipment with them, which includes a PLB, as well as adequate knowledge and experience.

“In this case, weather conditions got the better of this couple and they realised they could not get out without putting themselves at greater risk.

“Thanks to the PLB alert, RCCNZ were able to let us know this couple was in difficulty and we quickly sent a team to reach them yesterday.

“A helicopter is currently on standby in Aoraki/Mt Cook village waiting for a gap in the weather in order to reach the couple and bring them back down to safety. The group may move to Caroline Hut if conditions allow,” said Mr Dittmer.

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