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'Severely exhausted' couple in their 60s stranded on Mt Cook, rescued

A couple in their 60s have been rescued off Ball Pass Aoraki/Mt Cook after bad weather and severe exhaustion meant they could not get themselves to safety.

"As of 1.04pm, the couple and all members of the DOC Search and Rescue Alpine Rescue team had safely returned by helicopter to Bull Hutt Road and were then transferred by road to the Aoraki Mt Cook Alpine Rescue base," Maritime NZ says in a statement.

"The couple were assessed by the medical team at the base and no further medical attention was required."

The Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) manager Kevin Banaghan said his team first received an alert from a personal locator beacon in the Ball Pass of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park about 2pm yesterday.

"Due to unfavourable weather conditions a rescue helicopter was unable to reach the pair so a team of four cliff rescuers were dropped at Caroline Hutt who were then able to climb up to them," Mr Banaghan said.

The team found the couple mentally and physically exhausted, having experienced a few falls, so the decision was made to spend the night in the lee of the Ball Pass, he said.

DOC's senior ranger in charge of search and rescue and recreation in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, David Dittmer, said before exploring the park people should make sure they have the right safety equipment with them - including a locator beacon - as well as adequate knowledge and experience. 

"In this case, weather conditions got the better of this couple and they realised they could not get out without putting themselves at greater risk," Mr Dittmer said.

"Thanks to the PLB alert, RCCNZ were able to let us know this couple was in difficulty and we quickly sent a team to reach them yesterday. 

The avalanche claimed the lives of two guides, with Jo Morgan the sole survivor.
Source: 1 NEWS


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