August 02: Two climbers aged in their 20s who were buried by an avalanche and then caught in a blizzard atop one of New Zealand’s most famous mountain ranges earlier this week by digging themselves out of the snow, building a cave and feeding on just muesli bars.
According to The Guardian, two men whose identities have not been released to the public were on a three-day ice climbing adventure in the Remarkables – a 2,300-metre high range above Queenstown when they triggered a grade 2.5 avalanche. It carried them 20m downhill, burying them in the snow, then dug themselves out of the snow and decided to call the police they called 111 on a cell phone, who then requested assistance from the Wakatipu alpine cliff rescue.
Weather conditions were poor with high winds and blowing snow affecting visibility. The rescue team tried twice on Tuesday afternoon to reach the pair but could not because of the weather.
Alpine Cliff Rescue team co-ordinator Russell Tilsley said “It was getting late in the day and we decided it was too late to put a team in on foot … we knew we had a beautiful calm morning the next morning, so we spoke to the guys and they were in good spirits, and they decided to build a snow cave,”
The men found a boulder the size of a garage that had built up with snow drift and dug in next to it. The men had about 15 muesli bars to share but ran out of gas to melt water.
A helicopter of the Alpine Rescue Team tried to reach them on Wednesday morning again, failed due to adverse weather conditions, but the rescue helicopter was able to drop a crew of three 1.2km from the climbers and about 350 vertical metres below them. The boys managed to finally get up to those guys just before midday said Mr Tilsley.