Injured woman rescued from glacier after beacon set off
Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) says having a personal locator beacon helped saved the life of a woman
climber overnight. The woman had been critically injured on a South Island glacier and urgently needed medical
RCCNZ received the alert from the registered beacon at 8.45pm last night, and search and rescue officers immediately
spoke to the emergency contact people for the beacon’s owners – a group of three people climbing in the South Island’s
Arrowsmith Range. The two men, from Christchurch and Wellington, and a Christchurch woman had set off on Friday and were
due to complete their trip yesterday.
A Westpac Rescue Helicopter with night vision goggles left from Christchurch at 9.30pm, carrying a paramedic on board.
The climbers were located about an hour later, but their position on the Cameron Glacier near the upper reaches of the
Rakaia River was too tight to allow winching and the helicopter had to land instead.
Both of the woman climber’s legs were broken and the rescuers carried her for about 45 minutes in darkness and through
snow and ice to the helicopter. MetService said winds in the area were at 40 to 50 kilometres an hour. During the
rescue, an avalanche occurred about 200 metres away from the group.
The woman was flown directly to Christchurch Hospital for treatment, while the two men elected to remain on the glacier
overnight and organise private helicopter transport out of the area today.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Officer Chris Henshaw said the incident was a stark illustration of how carrying a personal
locator beacon saves lives. “Had the party not been able to quickly make contact with search and rescue authorities,
there is no doubt that the woman could have died, given the environment and the extent of her injuries,” Mr Henshaw
“This rescue provides yet another example of the importance of people carrying a PLB when they set out on foot or by
boat,” he said. “Registering the beacon means the owner’s emergency contacts can provide details of the planned trip and
rescuers can get to them faster.”