By Brendon McMahon
An ill-equipped Welshman who went on a solo tramp above the snowline near Fox Glacier yesterday wearing sneakers and jeans is lucky to be alive after he called police from Mount Fox concerned about his position.
Police said today the 24-year-old's expedition was a classic example of somebody who did everything wrong, with no idea of the volatility of New Zealand back country conditions.
"It could have been a totally different story had the weather packed up," senior sergeant Paul Watson, of Greymouth, said.
"Overseas visitors underestimate our conditions because things change so quickly."
The overseas tramper was "totally unprepared". He set out without indicating his intentions to anyone and was poorly dressed, without even a raincoat.
The fact he was able call police to say he was in trouble was pure luck, Watson said.
"It was purely by chance he had a cellphone with him and had coverage."
The tourist had set out late yesterday morning for what is supposed to be a four-hour walk up Mount Fox, but by early afternoon he was in trouble.
He was fortunately able to call police from the mountainside at 2.20pm saying he was stuck in snow due to the deteriorating weather and he was worried about his situation.
After police checked with local search and rescue volunteers on the state of the weather - which was clearing at the time - the man was advised to start trying to return down the route he had used to get up the mountain.
Meanwhile, the sole Ross policeman was dispatched south to Fox Glacier and walked in towards Mount Fox.
He met the tramper on the track about 20 minutes' walk from the road end about 3.5 hours later, at 5.40pm.
"He was wearing jeans and fabric sneakers which is totally the incorrect type of clothing when trekking in an alpine area," Watson said.
The man also had no map, compass or torch and was only carrying a light day pack with no real food supply.
- Greymouth Star