Ivan Molina-Trigueros says Ohakune skiers Scott Nation and
Darren Corowa saved his life on Mt Ruapehu last week. Photo
A novice skier probably would have died after tumbling 35
metres into the crater of Mt Ruapehu if not for a chance
meeting with two local men who decided at the last minute to
extend their day on the snow.
He is now urging others not to make the same mistakes he did
- a call his rescuers are also making.
Wellington photographer Ivan Molina-Trigueros travelled to
the mountain on Monday last week, August 18, for a day of
Feeling comfortable after a few runs down Turoa Skifield he
decided to hike to the top of the crater.
He watched other skiers descend the inside of the crater, and
thought he would do the same.
"I felt confident. I never thought, 'I cannot do this, I am
out of my depth', not even when I was sitting at the edge of
the slope with a pretty good vertical drop," he said.
"As soon as I dropped I fell backwards and I started rolling
... I was freefalling.
"I remember rolling and seeing one of my skis and leg going
up to the sky and rolling like a rag doll."
He was not injured but faced a treacherous journey out of the
crater. One ski had come off as he fell, and he needed to
climb back up to retrieve it so he could ski to safety.
"During the climb I had time to think about all my loved
ones, in particular my wife, Astrid," he said.
He got his ski and retraced his steps back down the crater.
By then it was 5pm and fear had started to creep in as
daylight began to fade and the temperature dropped.
"I start feeling that I am not moving at all. I have nothing
left in my body. At this point I seriously start thinking
that getting out of the mountain before nightfall is slim."
About that time Ohakune skiers Darren Corowa and Scott
Nation, on their way back to the skifield, decided even
though it was getting late, that they would head down the
"We could see Ivan down in the crater. Scott realised the
potential of the danger he was in. He said to me, 'This guy's
in trouble, we need to help him down or there could be a
fatality'," Mr Corowa said.
He said Mr Molina-Trigueros was "very unprepared" for the
conditions and exhausted.
"He was totally spent ... he fell about 20 times." Mr Nation
skied ahead to raise the alarm, leaving Mr Corowa to carry on
down the mountain with Mr Molina-Trigueros. They eventually
got off the mountain at 7.30pm - tired and cold but
Mr Molina-Trigueros said: "I remember apologising to them
because I knew I had risked their lives unnecessarily. I knew
I had been irresponsible to try this on my own. I thanked
them for staying with me, getting me out of the mountain and,
above all, for saving my life. "For me, they are heroes. I
don't know what would have happened if they hadn't come my
Mr Corowa said the outcome could have been tragic.
"The mountain looks small and people underestimate it. It
will take your life as quickly as Everest though."
He advised anyone wanting to explore outside the skifield to
take an experienced skier.