Mt Aspiring rescue recognised

It was all smiles as determined members of LandSAR Wanaka's alpine cliff rescue team (from left) Rich Raynes, Davie Robinson and Anthea Fisher worked to locate and rescue Australian climber Terry Harch from Mt Aspiring last year. Photo: Wanaka Search and
It was all smiles as determined members of LandSAR Wanaka's alpine cliff rescue team (from left) Rich Raynes, Davie Robinson and Anthea Fisher worked to locate and rescue Australian climber Terry Harch from Mt Aspiring last year. Photo: Wanaka Search and Rescue
A four-day rescue mission to save the life of a climber on Mt Aspiring last winter has earned LandSAR Wanaka national recognition.

The organisation was awarded an NZSAR certificate of achievement for operational activity by Transport Minister Phil Twyford at a ceremony at Parliament last night.

The multi-day rescue of Australian climber Lieutenant Terry Harch made headlines last August as severe weather thwarted multiple attempts by rescuers to reach him.

Finally, on August 2, a break in the weather enabled two rescue helicopters to access the Bonar Glacier, locate the climber and drop off four Wanaka alpine cliff rescue team members to assist.

The climber was dehydrated, exhausted and had frostbite.

The ACR team provided warm clothing, food and drink and stayed overnight with him in the snow, ice and wind.

LandSAR Wanaka alpine cliff rescue team leader Davie Robinson receives a certificate of achievement award from Transport Minister Phil Twyford for his team's efforts in the rescue. Photo: Jon McQueen
LandSAR Wanaka alpine cliff rescue team leader Davie Robinson receives a certificate of achievement award from Transport Minister Phil Twyford for his team's efforts in the rescue. Photo: Jon McQueen
The next day, three rescue helicopters were poised to take advantage of a break in the weather for a snatch-and-grab rescue.

An opportunity came late in the day and the climber and his rescuers were lifted off the mountain.

Cliff rescue team leader Davie Robinson described the rescue as ''touch and go'', occurring just as it was getting dark.

Mr Harch was transported to Dunedin Hospital to recover from hypothermia and frostbite.

It was the second time the Australian had been rescued in New Zealand - he got into trouble while climbing Mt Tasman in 2013.

The NZSAR council awards programme was introduced in 1999 to acknowledge outstanding search and rescue work by individuals, groups and organisations in the NZSAR region.

These awards are presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievements in search and rescue nationwide.

sean.nugent@odt.co.nz

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