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Helicopter rescues two hypothermic climbers, stranded in Nelson high country

News from NZ Police
Rescuers have been successful in recovering two trampers who got into difficulty in the Nelson Lakes National Park yesterday afternoon.

Conditions in the area prevented a helicopter getting to the pair yesterday but they were picked up about 1pm today during a break in the weather.

The Irish woman and Latvian man, both in their mid-twenties, have been checked by an advanced paramedic on the mountain and are unlikely to require further medical treatment.

Search coordinator Senior Constable Dave Colville said the first rescue team to reach the pair early this morning had done an outstanding job to bring them back from a severely hypothermic state prior to the helicopter’s arrival.

The rescue team had tramped through the night in snow and high winds to reach the pair about 5.30am. There was a wind chill of -18deg and heavy blowing snow.

Once they are safely off the mountain Police will interview them to establish what went wrong.

Senior Constable Colville said the trampers were extremely lucky to have been rescued as their condition when they were found meant they were unable to help themselves.

News from NZ Police at 9.05am
A difficult search and rescue operation is underway in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

Nelson Police received an emergency call about 5.45pm last night. The male caller had become separated from his female tramping companion after she fell off the saddle on the route to Mt Angelus from Speargrass.

It was snowing at the time and conditions prevented a helicopter getting to the pair who were at an altitude of about 1600 metres.

A team of search and rescue volunteers, including a doctor, walked into the area overnight and found the pair shortly before 5.30am today. They were about 25 metres below the saddle and both in a hypothermic state and unable to self rescue or assist their rescuers.

The rescue team was equipped with survival gear for five people. They have has erected two tents and have been working to raise the pair’s body temperature.

Constable Dave Cogger said a report back from the team shortly after 8am today indicated progress was being made in increasing the pair’s temperature.

He said extracting them from the mountain at this stage was not possible as the conditions were atrocious with a wind chill of -18 deg.

A second search and rescue team is heading into the area today to relieve the first team.

The pair are both foreign nationals in their mid 20s. Their levels of experience and equipment is not yet known.