A Search and Rescue team made a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to save a man who plunged 200m down an icy Mt Cook slope.

The 36-year-old man's fatal fall about noon on Friday was seen by his brother, who then had to spend a night in a hut before he could be taken off the mountain.

Helicopter Line pilot Jim Campbell said the dead man, who police have not named but said was a Kiwi living in Melbourne, was alive when rescuers reached him.

"He was conscious, but he was very badly hurt and he'd lost his hat and gloves in the fall so he was very cold."


"Atrocious" weather and poor visibility had prevented him from airlifting the man out. The rescue team instead stretchered the man down a glacier, walking a couple of hours to reach another helicopter, but the man died on the way.

The man had slipped while climbing down to the Tasman Saddle Hut after he had been dropped off on the mountain by helicopter for a four-day ski tour. Campbell said police told him the man was well-equipped but was not wearing crampons when he slipped about 40m from the hut.

"His brother said he was just standing there and then he was gone. It's really sad ... he just didn't quite make it."