Rescuers beat fading light to save climbers

Queenstown's Alpine Cliff Rescue (ACR) team beat fading light to rescue two climbers in the Dart River valley.

ACR team spokesman Russell Tilsley said the pair raised the alarm about 7pm on Saturday after becoming stuck while descending a face at Chinaman’s Bluff about 20km north of Glenorchy.

The two Queenstown men were abseiling the ‘‘very technical and long’’ Ravages of Time route when their rope got caught, Mr Tilsley said.

Unable to descend further, they also could not climb back up because they were unsure if their rope was secure.

They called for help with a satellite communications device, triggering a rescue mission co-ordinated by the Rescue Co-ordination Centre and police.

A four-man ACR team was flying to the site on a Heliworks Queenstown chopper by 7.50pm.

With only about five minutes of daylight remaining, a HET (human external transport) system, or strop, could not be used, so two of the team were dropped on a ledge above the climbers, he said.

They abseiled down to the climbers and fixed a rope, allowing all four to descend to the bottom of the route.

Had the team arrived any later, the stuck climbers would have had to spend the night on the cliff face.

"It was a pretty close-run thing."

The rescued men were experienced and had the right equipment, but were unlucky a knot in their rope had become stuck on a root, he said.

guy.williams@odt.co.nz

 

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