Climbers Survive Avalanche Then Dig Snowcave to Spend Unplanned Night in Remarkables, New Zealand

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New Zealand, rescue, avalanche, snow cave, overnight
The two climbers dug a snow cave and hunkered down for the night. Credit: NZ Police

Two climbers who were caught in an avalanche were forced to dig a snow cave and hunker down for the night after high winds and whiteout conditions hampered rescue attempts.

On Tuesday, the experienced climbers, 22 and 25, called for help on Double Cone in the Remarkables Range, near Queenstown. 

The pair had been climbing in ‘perfect’ conditions over the weekend before the weather deteriorated on Monday. Waking up to their tent almost buried by snow on Tuesday morning, they decided to walk out. As they walked out, they crossed an area through a small gully and triggered a substantial class two avalanche. Carried about 65 feet, they stopped partially buried and managed to dig themselves out before calling for help.

Several rescue attempts were aborted due to the bad weather, meaning they had to wait until the following day to be rescued.

“They were very experienced, they had a lot of good equipment and in the end, they made a good decision to hunker down, go back to a safe area and call for help.”

– Rescue Team

Rescuers again tried to reach the pair by air on Wednesday morning but instead had to land 0.75 miles away and 1,000 feet below the climbers’ position. Three rescuers walked in harsh conditions and eventually reached the men around 10.45 am.

“It was pretty heavy going, the snow was quite deep, it was sort of white-out, they had freezing rain, they all came back pretty soaked and frozen.”

– Rescue team

The climbers were uninjured but shaken by their experience.

double cone, New Zealand, Remarkables,
Double Cone, New Zealand.

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