Rescuers where Harch stayed during the storm

Australian Terry Harch spent three days trapped in a snow cave awaiting a rescue after heading up a dangerous slope without provisions and supplies.

The 29-year-old was going solo up a route on Mount Aspiring in New Zealand rarely attempted by a team due to the dangers in winter.

He was reported missing a week ago after he left the hut for the summit without his food, stove or sleeping bag for what was meant to be a quick up and down.

After he activated his Spot device, New Zealand authorities tracked his beacon activity but could not attempt a rescue due to the snow.

Harch had enough experience to dig a snow cave and to wait for weather to pass, despite the onset of frostbite which might have been enough to force some climbers to descend.

After a few days, a group of rescuers reached him with food and water. They all waited for weather to improve for a helicopter to evacuate due to snow conditions.

“I don’t think he would have lasted another night,” said the pilot. “He was lucky to be alive.”

In 2013, Harch and a friend were rescued from New Zealand’s second highest mountain, Mount Tasman. The most recent rescue will cost taxpayers at least $150,000 and 500 volunteer hours.

Harch and his family have refused all requests for an interview.

Mount Aspiring is a 3,033-metre peak with very technical winter climbs and almost never attempted alone. It’s claimed over 30 lives in the past 10 years.

Mount Aspiring Photo Rob Sturll

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