Mountain men turn lifesavers

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A lot can happen in 24 hours if you’re a member of Queenstown’s Alpine Cliff Rescue Team.

Veteran mountaineers Chris Prudden and Dave Bolger are pictured here earlier this month enjoying a leisurely day on the Remarkables.

But the previous evening, they were involved in the dramatic rescue of a fellow local climber who’d plunged 12 metres onto his back at Wye Creek.

The two Alpine Cliff Rescue members scrambled aboard a chopper along with a cop and a paramedic to rush to the aid of Nick Lindsay, who’d taken the serious tumble.

“I was contemplating having an evening meal when I gotthe call from the police,” says Prudden, a mountaineering instructor from Sunshine Bay.

“I immediately called my mate Dave, who was the perfect man for the job as he climbs up at Wye Cree

k a lot.

“I then grabbed the rescue kit and headed for the helicopter.”

But the rescue party ran into problems because the accident site was too near to cliffs to get the chopper in close – and daylight was fading fast.

“The guy had been climbing with some very experienced people who did the right thing in calling in the rescue services as when someone lands ontheir back, you have to assume it’s been broken,” says Prudden.

“If he’d landed on his head afterfalling the distance he did, it could have been curtains.

“He was also lying in a tricky spot and we had to get out and bring him back to a point where we could load him into the helicopter.”

Justin Plows, the paramedic from St John who attended the scene, adds: “The patient was in an awful lot of pain.”
Prudden and Bolger were left behind while the chopper headed straight for Lakes District Hospital in Frankton – they assumed they’d be facing either coming back down in the dark themselves or staying the night on the freezing mountain range.

However, the pilot returned “with minutes to spare” and the pair managed a decent kip in their own beds before their “social” climb on the Remarkables the next morning.

Accident victim Lindsay, from Lake Hayes Estate, was transferred to hospital in Invercargill the next day, where he was found to have suffered a chipped pelvis and severe spinal bruising.

He’s since returned to Queenstown and says: “I realise I was very, very fortunate.

It could have been a lot worse.”

Lindsay, originally from Melbourne, adds: “I have to say a huge thanks to Chris, Dave and everyone involved in the rescue. They were fantastic and I owe them all more than a few beers.”