intense video of rescuer being lower and injured climber being raised.
Three Chinese climbers were spotted on 8,261-foot Mt. Taranaki, NZ near the summit at 4:40pm on Sunday by a tourist. That tourist notified rescue personnel fearing that they wouldn’t be able to get down to safety before nightfall.
While rescue personnel were preparing to fly up to the 3 Chinese climbers via helicopter in the dark, an avalanche came down and hit the 3 Chinese climbers.
“While the rescue helicopter was preparing to take off to head to the scene, the trio were hit by the avalanche.” – police spokesman
The 3 Chinese climbers spoke no English but used their cell phones to call relatives who then called New Zealand emergency services.
The 3 climbers were eventually rescued in the dark by the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter and Alpine Rescue teams. One suffered a broken arm and the other two had minor injuries. All three climbers were taken to the Taranaki Base Hospital for treatment.
One of the 3 climbers was awaiting surgery on Monday, according to a hospital spokesperson.
All 3 of the climbers were wearing helmets and their helmets had been damaged by falling ice and snow.
“They were just fortunate that they were not swept a considerable distance by the avalanche.” – Senior Constable Peter Lawn, of Police Search and Rescue
None of these 3 climbers were wearing avalanche beacons.
The avalanche danger was rated at “Considerable” (the rating the most people die under) on Sunday according to the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory website. It is currently winter in New Zealand.
Rescuers reportedly dodged falling rocks and ice the size of soccer balls in the dark to reach the 3 injured, avalanched climbers at an elevation of 6,600-feet.
One rescuer from the Taranaki Alpine Rescue team received minor injuries due to the falling ice and was treated at the scene.
“Due to the conditions, a third rescuer was collected from the Stratford Plateau and winched on to the mountain to assist with the group. Rescuers encountered difficult conditions on the 40-45 degree mountain slopes with ice falling from above the group making the rescue operation significantly challenging.” – police spokesman added.
“It appeared that they were inexperienced and moving slowly 2000m up in the centre of the east face.” – police spokesman