Avalanche survivor tells of miracle escape

Jamie Hareb is recovering from a broken ankle, ruptured ACL, a serious knee injury and head-to-toe cuts and scrapes. Photo / Supplied
Jamie Hareb is recovering from a broken ankle, ruptured ACL, a serious knee injury and head-to-toe cuts and scrapes. Photo / Supplied

A Franz Josef glacier guide sat covered in his own blood awaiting rescue after getting caught in an avalanche at the top of the Landsborough Valley last week.

Jamie Hareb is recovering from a broken ankle, ruptured ACL, a serious knee injury and head-to-toe cuts and scrapes.

He had mere seconds to try to climb out of the avalanche's path as it bore down on him.

"I heard a huge crack, kind of like a bang or a car crashing, loud cymbles or whatever," Hareb said.

Looking up, he saw ice had separated itself from the mountain above the gully he was in at the top of the Landsborough River which began tumbling down toward him.

Hareb was hiking in a mountain gully at the top of the Landsborough River. Photo / Supplied
Hareb was hiking in a mountain gully at the top of the Landsborough River. Photo / Supplied

He had about five seconds to get as high up one side of the gully as possible.

"It eventually took me off my feet and took me for a ride.

"I don't remember being scared, it just happened so quickly."

He said the "river" of snow and ice picked him up, whipped and spun him around, smashing him into a rock, twisting and crushing his legs.

Hareb tried to jump to the side, clinging to a rock before being flung again onto the avalanche.

"You're thinking to yourself, 'this could be it, this could be where it ends'."

Eventually he was able to get back up and jump off - waiting a couple of hours for rescue after activating his tracker beacon.

Hareb had recently sat through an avalanche training course which had taught him the importance of staying "afloat" if you got caught up.

"As soon as you go under, there's a very small chance you'll come back up."

Hareb battled to stay afloat on the fast moving wall of ice and snow, and eventually managed to jump off the avalanche and set off his tracker beacon before being rescued by helicopter.

- NZ Herald

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