WEATHER has again halted the rescue of an Australian man trapped on a New Zealand mountain.
Authorities have grave and growing concerns for the 29-year-old reported missing on Monday after setting out for a solo climb of Mount Aspiring in the South Island last week.
According to Channel Seven the man is an Australian Army officer.
Strong winds, freezing temperatures, and heavy rain have for days now halted attempts to drop a search team at the man’s last known location.
A helicopter was sent into the area on Wednesday night but had to turn back due to low cloud, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre says.
“As well as the poor weather conditions, there is a high risk of avalanches that is hampering the search assets from reaching the climber’s position,” search and rescue officer Geoff Lunt said.
There are grave concerns for the Aussie’s safety after he triggered his Spot device around lunchtime on Tuesday.
The man’s beacon was stilling moving on Wednesday afternoon.
Two Alpine Rescue Crew are maintaining a weather watch from the French Ridge hut and will call for a helicopter through the Wanaka SAR base if the cloud lifts.
The weather forecast for today is heavy rain, some thunderstorms, northerly winds of 50-60 km an hour and the temperature at 1800m is between -2C and 0C
Search teams on the ground have this week found the climber’s car at a car park, and his heavier equipment at a hut.
“He’s gone quite lightly equipped for climbing, it’s quite standard practice: climbers will be lightly equipped, and just take some food and water so they move quickly, climb fast, get to the top and come back to the hut,” a rescue centre spokesman earlier said.
“Unfortunately he seems to have been caught by the weather.”
A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “providing consular assistance” to the man’s family.
“Owing to privacy considerations we will not provide further comment,” the DFAT spokesperson said.
Originally published as ‘Grave concerns’ for Aussie climber