Climber plunges 100m, beacon alerts rescuers

An injured climber has been rescued by helicopter from Mt Awful in Mt Aspiring National Park, after suffering head injuries following a fall of around 100m.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) received a personal locator beacon (PLB) alert from a party of four climbers at around 11 am. A rescue helicopter from The Helicopter Line Mount Cook, with a specialist Department of Conservation alpine rescue team on board flew to the scene, near the Gillespie Pass (altitude around 1300m).

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said the man, aged in his 60s, was stabilised and flown to Queenstown Hospital. As the full extent of his injuries was not known, a fully equipped air ambulance helicopter from Helicopters Otago, with an ICU retrieval team on board, launched from Dunedin to rendezvous at Queenstown. Medical authorities will decide upon the next course of action.

“The man has fallen a considerable distance and requires a some serious medical attention,” Mr Wilson said.

“This incident again shows the value of carrying a registered distress beacon. Because it was registered, we were quickly able to establish from the party’s emergency contact the make-up of the party and their climbing intentions.

“It has enabled the injured person to get medical attention as quickly as possible.”

The man’s condition is not known at this stage.

Beacons can be registered free of charge on the beacons website:

The remaining members of the party, all New Zealanders, are making their own way down the mountain.