Another Busy Day For The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter
Another busy day for the Greenlea Rescue helicopter
The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter had a busy weekend completing three missions on each of Saturday and Sunday. The weekend was capped off with an epic search and rescue effort over night Sunday, Monday
The helicopter was tasked by Police to assist with a search for a woman who didn’t return from a days skiing.
She had exited the ski area boundary at Turoa on the last run, having followed the wrong valley, and with the onset of darkness she become lost.
With a failing mobile phone battery, she was able to contact a friend to say she has aiming for the massey Ski lodge. However when she didn’t arrive, and with no known starting point, there was a lot of ground for searchers to cover.
Bearing in mind she was well outside of the Turoa ski areas patrolled boundary, there was a phenomenal response from the Turoa ski patrol, Ruapehu alpine rescue and LandSAR volunteers, to assist the police with the search.
Using their vast and professional knowledge of the area these teams, lead by the police and the Ski patrol, were able to cover a great area of the mountain and the Greenlea helicopter was able to assist by providing an aerial view and following any leads they found.
With deteriorating weather it was silently acknowledged that she would be unlikely to survive the night if she was in the open, so needless to say it was with great relief that she was eventually found at about 0230 am in deep snow drifts, huddled on the edge of a tree line at about 4800 feet elevation and well outside of the ski area boundary.
With the wind now gusting and lowering cloud starting to partially obscure the mountain, the Greenlea helicopter was able to hover load a RARO team member (who is also a Turoa Ski Patroller) to a relatively close location. Having waded through chest deep snow drifts he then assisted the woman back to a suitable location for the helicopter to hover load her aboard.
Aside from being extremely cold and tired she appeared to be uninjured by her ordeal.
Special mention to all of those organisations above who were involved in the rescue. An incredible team of dedicated people, and an outstanding effort by the Mt Ruapehu Ski Patrollers and staff without whom, this may well be a very sad tale of great day out that went horribly wrong.