2 climbers die after 2 nights on NZealand mountain
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Improved weather Tuesday allowed New Zealand rescue teams to recover the bodies of two climbers who died on a mountain after being trapped for two nights in a blizzard.
Japanese Hiroki Ogawa, 31, and Nicole Sutton, 29, of New Zealand, were part of a group of climbers who reached the summit of Mount Taranaki on Saturday before encountering bad weather on the descent, police said.
Two other climbers in the group made it to safety after spending one night on the mountain.
Ogawa and Sutton dug themselves into the snow as best they could and had been texting police until Sunday night. But poor conditions prevented rescuers from reaching the pair until early Monday morning.
Police Inspector Blair Telford said Sutton was still alive when rescuers reached them. She was conversing with rescuers initially, he said, but then became unresponsive. Rescuers stayed with her for several hours while they unsuccessfully tried to revive her before bad weather forced them to leave.
Better weather Tuesday morning allowed an Air Force team to winch the pair from the mountain in an operation that took about an hour.
Sutton’s parents told reporters that Sutton and Ogawa were in a relationship and they thought they might one day marry.
Ogawa was a research fellow at the University of Auckland’s School of Environment.