Solo-Trekker Caught in Large Glacial Avalanche

Dylan Cautela | | AvalancheAvalanche
Mount Cook, New Zealand. Source
Mount Cook, New Zealand. Source; (Mount Cook New Zealand.)

Yesterday, a solo-trekker was caught in a glacial avalanche in the Landsborough Valley on the west coast side of Aoraki-Mount Cook, New Zealand. The man is an employee of Franz Josef Glaciar Guides and was five to six days into his nine day solo odyssey when he was caught up in the avalanche.

The incident transpired around noon time while the trekker was crossing the glacier. He was swept downhill about 100 meters but managed to “swim” above the debris and come out on the other side only partially buried. Fortunately the trekker had a remote tracker beacon, which when activated notified the local Rescue Co-ordination Centre via text message.

“It was a big one. He got taken down about 100m, but he managed to swim through it.”

-Rick Knight, helicopter paramedic for NZCC West Coast Rescue Helicopter

Around three in the afternoon NZCC West Coast Rescue Helicopter was dispatched by the Rescue Co-ordination Centre to begin the rescue operation. The helicopter uplifted two members of the South Westland alpine cliff rescue team from Fox Glacier en-route to the scene of the incident. The team was lucky to find the victim amongst the debris who had sustained injuries to an arm and a smashed knee cap, pretty minor in comparison to what could have occurred. The victim was flown to Grey Base Hospital for treatment.

“He got away with it pretty well – it could have been a lot worse.”

-Rick Knight, helicopter paramedic for NZCC West Coast Rescue Helicopter

Just the team when you're in need.
NZCC West Coast Rescue Helicopter which was on scene at the Landsborough Valley glacial avalanche incident. Source; (Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue.)

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