Climbers caught short


A rescuer of two climbers stranded overnight on the Remarkables says the pair should have done more homework before starting out.

Alpine Cliff Rescue team member Chris Prudden helped pluck Queenstowner Ben Dare and climbing partner Dominic Lo of Australia to safety last Sunday morning.

The pair got stuck in darkness on the south face of the 2319-metre Single Cone late on Saturday. They hunkered down for the night on a small ledge in freezing temperatures and made a cellphone call for help at 3.30am.

Prudden and his team initially choppered to the site in treacherous conditions at 5am but were unable to locate the pair in the dark.

They returned at 8.30am on Sunday and pulled the shaking pair off the mountain.

Prudden says both men, aged 25, could have had more information before setting off.

“They could have done with a bit more information about how high that face was and the time it would take to get out.”

Prudden also points out the face has anchors built into it that allow climbers to abseil down.

Dare says he knew about the anchors and considered trying to get to them.

“[But] it would have been much more dangerous for us to descend to where they were – that was quite a few hundred metres below us.”

And misjudging the time to do the climb?

“Obviously we got caught out so the timing wasn’t perfect but I don’t really want to elaborate.”

Dare says he and Lo both suffered minor hypothermia and frostbite but are “back up and running now”.

They were discharged from Lakes District Hospital on Sunday afternoon.

Their rescuers – all volunteers – put in a “great effort”, Dare says.

Prudden says the rescue was a good test for his team of Queenstowners Stu Arnold, Aaron Ford and Bruce Hasler.

Prudden praises Heliworks pilot Richard Black for donning night-vision goggles and making the 5am attempt in heavy turbulence, low cloud and snow.

“It was a great piece of flying.”

Ironically, Prudden’s team were scheduled to join a simulated avalanche training exercise up the Remarkables on Sunday morning – they stayed after the actual rescue to take part.