A search and rescue operation is in full swing to help a man trapped in dire straits in the Tarawa Range. It launched Personal Locator Bacon on the ridge line near Jumbo Peak on Sunday night.
Trapped in Tarova Forest Park, north of Wellington, an experienced Trumper is battling storms and torrential rains to seek refuge, while rescuers are forced to return.
Search and rescue crews spent the night in the huts after recovering one of the two trapped tramps from the area – a woman who was rescued Monday morning.
Another 45-year-old Wellington man working on a separate solo mission was still trapped in “terrible conditions” north of Jumbo Peak, police search and rescue coordinator Tony Matheson said.
Two rescue teams stayed overnight at Jumbo Hut and Ati Wahako Hut and set off on a Monday morning, traveling the route to find the man but were forced to take refuge because the winds were so dangerous.
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Mathison said search and rescue headquarters continued to receive pings from their personal locator Bacon on Monday, which the man activated at 9pm on Sunday night, and kept in touch with them intermittently via cell phone.
On Monday afternoon, Mathison said he was trying to get out of McGregor without help.
He said it was positive that he knew the area where the man was located at the headwaters of Akiwakato Stream, but that the deteriorating situation meant that there was still a danger factor.
“She is still in critical condition. I hope she is determined to get there.
“Weather conditions in the park will be significantly worse than today, with strong winds and heavy rain forecast.”
Police said the man was an experienced Trumper who left Wellington on Sunday morning to walk along Pankall Ridge at McNeil Garage Hut and complete the Baldy Circuit.
Mattison said he had some Bosch craft gear, but no belongings, such as sleeping bags or tents, overnight.
A Wellington rescue helicopter was contacted, but was unable to take off due to weather conditions in the area.
The Met Service issued a strong wind warning for Virarpa and Tarrawa districts, with northwest storm winds and gusts reaching speeds of up to 130 kilometers per hour. Heavy rain warning was also issued for the expected Tarrawa range up to 100 mm before 10 am on Monday.
Another search and rescue team spent the night in Powell Hut when they were called to help a woman who had been blown away several times by high winds while hiking on a mountain path between Mount Holdsworth and Jumbo Peak.
Police were called at 11.05am on Sunday when a 35-year-old Kapiti woman called for help when she was trapped. She was traveling solo between Jumbo Hut and Powell Hut.
She was trapped at an altitude of 1,400 meters and was unable to continue in the current rain and wind conditions. The air temperature was -5 degrees Celsius.
The woman stayed put, sheltered from the wind, and used her sleeping bag to keep warm until the rescue party arrived.
Rescue teams described the weather in the open country above the Bush Line as “terrible.”
Police said the woman was not reported injured but was suffering from mild hypothermia.
The team reached the woman at about 5.40pm on Sunday night and chose to stay overnight at Powell Hut.
Mathison said it was good that the Trumps looked equipped with the right gear and made the right decisions when they were in trouble, but he questioned the decision to go out in those circumstances.
“This season was predicted. If you are focused on the goal, you still have to think about your safety, think about the weather, and think about the respondents who come. You have to help.