Australian Climber Alive on New Zealand Mountain After One Week Missing

August 3, 2018 Updated: September 4, 2018

An Australian soldier was trapped by severe weather on a mountain in New Zealand for a week before being found alive on the evening of Aug. 2.

Four alpine rescuers found Army Lt. Terry Harch, 29, stranded on the South Island’s Mount Aspiring around 5 p.m. He was “standing and waving” with mild frostbite on his hands, according to Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ).

Rescuers spent the night on the mountain with Harch as they waited for a window of safer weather conditions to evacuate. On Aug. 3, Harch was taken to Dunedin Hospital, about 300 km away, for treatment.

“He is very lucky to be alive. I don’t think he would have lasted another night,” RCCNZ officer Neville Blakemore told NZ Herald. Blakemore said that Harch was in a “bit of pain” and described his condition as “quite severe”.

Harch had failed to return from his solo climb on July 30 after setting off on July 27. Helicopters had been trying to reach him for days, but had to hold back due to poor weather conditions—strong winds of up to 60km/h, freezing conditions and heavy rain.

RCCNZ’s Senior Search and Rescue Officer Geoff Lunt said Harch “clearly made some good decisions to be able to survive the bad weather, heavy heavy snow and high winds.”

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