Aoraki/Mt Cook climber’s rescue New Zealand’s highest in history
November 11, 2021
A rescue mission to retrieve a climber stuck on the summit ridge of Aoraki/Mt Cook has taken the record for the highest rescue in New Zealand’s history, Maritime NZ says.
Members of the Department of Conservation’s Aoraki/Mt Cook Alpine Rescue Team (AMCART) undertook the rescue on November 4, after the Maritime NZ Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) received an SOS alert from an emergency beacon from the summit.
A spokesperson from RCCNZ said Aoraki/Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, is about 3724 metres and ‘’I understand this is the first rescue from the absolute top of the summit’’.
“We tasked the Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Rescue Team and a local helicopter from The Helicopter Line to go searching for the climber,” RCCNZ search and rescue officer Keith Allen said.
“The climber reported that they had over-extended themselves and felt the best course of action was to send the SOS message.”
AMCART team member Mark Evans said a lot was going in the rescue team’s favour, with perfect weather for aviation and relatively good conditions on the summit ridge.
“We were pleased to come away with the best possible outcome, returning safely with an uninjured climber,” said Evans.
“We flew to the area and used a longline to undertake the rescue.
“We’re very happy the climber identified their limits on the day and asked for help – they did the right thing to call for assistance.”
He said the rescue showed the importance of always carrying a working personal locator beacon when enjoying the outdoors.
“If you do need rescuing, having a beacon means rescuers can respond quickly and find you more easily, which can save lives.
“Whether climbing the highest peak in Aotearoa or heading out for a day walk, you should make room for a beacon in your backpack so that if something happens, you can easily get help.”
The RCCNZ is responsible for co-ordinating all major maritime and aviation search and rescue missions within New Zealand’s search and rescue region land-based missions arising from someone activating a distress beacon.