A mountain climber has suffered serious head injuries after falling 300m down Mt Ruapehu today.

A small group was climbing Pinnacle Ridge at Whakapapa when the 25-year-old fell on ice and slid in an area known as Grand Gully about 10.30am, police said.

Whakapapa Ski Patrol attended to the man who received serious head injuries and he was flown to Waikato Hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

A Waikato Hospital spokeswoman said the man was in a critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.


Greenlea Rescue Helicopter pilot Grant Bremner said he believed the group was made up only of the injured man and the woman who became stuck.

It was a "beautiful clear day" on the mountain, he said.

"Conditions made it not only good for climbing but good for rescuing as well."

At the same time a search and rescue was launched for a woman in the same climbing party who became stuck on the top of the Pinnacles and was unable to continue, police said.

Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter was used to send a Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation team to the area to bring the 23-year-old down.

She was retrieved unharmed and without further incident.

Mr Bremner said it appeared the woman had been too frightened to move after her climbing partner had fallen.

"She wouldn't have had the equipment or the support to get down either."

The group were well equipped and experienced and weather conditions were fine at the time, police said.