A man was seriously injured when he slipped and fell on the
Pinnacle Ridge, Whakapapa, in an area known as Grand Gully.
Photo / Greenlea Rescue Helicopter
A frightened woman who watched her climbing companion
slip on ice and fall 300m was helped to safety in a dramatic
mountain rescue on Whakapapa skifield.
The incident unfolded yesterday on Mt Ruapehu's Pinnacle
Ridge when a 25-year-old male climber slipped down the ice,
suffering serious head injuries.
He fell in an area known as Grand Gully about 10.30am, police
Luke Middleton, from the Outdoor Pursuit Centre and a member
of the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation, was on the
mountain when he received a call from police to help rescue
the 23-year-old woman stranded above the injured man.
Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter airlifted four members of
his rescue team in to near where the woman had become stuck
on the top of the Pinnacles.
"She was uninjured but was not in a position to be travelling
anywhere by herself," Mr Middleton said.
"Having seen whatever she saw, she wasn't prepared to go
anywhere else. She was talkative and lively but she didn't
want to go down the way they had come up."
A third member of the climbing group, who also watched his
friend fall, had climbed back down to the aid of his injured
companion, while the woman remained above, he said.
Two of the four rescuers climbed to her and guided her away
by rope to where she could be lifted off the mountain by
helicopter, Mr Middleton said.
It would have been almost two hours after he took the rescue
call before she was delivered back on the ground to friends.
The area where the man fell was well-known to climbers and
rescuers and was a popular climbing route, Mr Middleton said.
"It was definitely steep. It's directly adjacent to the ski
field," he said.
Whakapapa Ski Patrol attended to the injured man who was then
flown to Waikato Hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
The climbing party were well equipped and experienced, and
weather conditions were fine at the time, police said.
A Waikato Hospital spokeswoman said the man was in a critical
condition in the Intensive Care Unit last night.
Greenlea Rescue Helicopter pilot Grant Bremner said it
appeared the woman had been too frightened to move after her
climbing partner fell.
"She wouldn't have had the equipment or the support to get
It was a "beautiful clear day" on the mountain, he said.
"Conditions made it not only good for climbing but good for
rescuing as well."