Kiwi saves climbing mate after Himalayan avalanche

By Chris Morris

Ben Dare activated an emergency locator beacon alerting authorities in New Zealand and Nepal. Photo / Supplied
Ben Dare activated an emergency locator beacon alerting authorities in New Zealand and Nepal. Photo / Supplied

A Queenstown climber's heroic actions are being hailed after he saved a climbing companion knocked unconscious by an avalanche high up a Himalayan mountain.

Ben Dare, 29, of Queenstown, was among four New Zealand-based climbers who had set their sights on the summit of unclimbed Anidesha Chuli, or White Wave (6800m), in the Himalayas, this week.

The group had made it to base camp and Mr Dare and Scott Scheele, 24, had pushed on towards the summit, when the pair were caught in an avalanche less than 400m from their goal.

Mr Scheele was knocked out by the force of the avalanche and carried 90m down the mountain, the group's publicist, Joe Wallace, told the Otago Daily Times last night.

He received a "serious knock to the head" and concussion, and had to be helped down the mountain by Mr Dare to a camp at 6000m, an update on the group's website said.

Mr Dare then activated an emergency locator beacon, alerting authorities in New Zealand and Nepal, who began co-ordinating a rescue.

The pair were joined in their tent by their two remaining climbing companions, who trekked overnight from base camp, at 4800m, to join them at 6000m.

A private helicopter organised by New Zealand consulate staff in Nepal eventually reached the party and flew Mr Scheele, a United States citizen, and Mr Dare to a Kathmandu hospital.

Mr Scheele remained in intensive care undergoing tests and being monitored, but was expected to make a good recovery and be released within days.

The rescue prompted a message on the climbers' website yesterday from Mr Scheele's mother, Libby Scheele, praising her son's rescuers and Mr Dare's "amazing" efforts.

"I do not know all the details yet, but I am certain that your diligent actions are what enabled Scott to survive. I am so grateful to you."

She also thanked the other two climbers - Rob Frost, 30, and Andre van Dusschoten, 37, - for trekking through the night to assist.

''You sacrificed your energy stores to help your friends. Until you reached Scott and Ben, we all could only wonder and wait and wait.''

Glenis Frost, Rob's mother, said last night the group were all "absolutely shattered" while waiting for rescue, but their efforts had been "tremendous".

"The combination of that and the altitude they were at, they were all not flash at all - to say the least.

"Ben was amazing the way he looked after Scott and carried him down."

Her son and Mr van Dusschoten remained on the mountain, but had abandoned any hope of reaching the summit.

Instead, they expected to spend the next three days ferrying equipment off the mountain, Mrs Frost said.

"For a team they've just stuck together ... they've made everyone very proud."

- Otago Daily Times

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