Two climbers rescued by chopper

Unforseen weather and a high avalanche risk prompted two experienced climbers to request an emergency rescue from a glacier in Mt Aspiring National Park yesterday.

Wanaka police and LandSAR Wanaka launched a search and rescue operation yesterday morning after the two men found themselves in a potentially dangerous situation and raised the alarm, police search and rescue incident controller Senior Constable Mike Johnston said.

The pair were experienced alpinists from the Wanaka area who had undertaken a ''fairly serious climbing mission'' on the Hood Glacier, near Avalanche Peak, and encountered different weather conditions to those forecast.

Snr Const Johnston said the men had expected some snow flurries, but instead were in snow drifts up to their chests at times, with poor visibility also an issue.

''They've called [for rescue] because they are very uncomfortable because of the avalanche risk.''

After raising the alarm from their satellite phone about 10.30am, the men were collected by Aspiring Helicopters, with two alpine cliff rescue team members on board, and returned safely to Wanaka by mid-afternoon.

''They have made the right decision and they wouldn't have made this decision lightly at all.''


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