Friday, January 16, 2009

Ngauruhoe Gets Nasty

For some of the thousands and thousands of people who hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a side trip up to the crater of active volcano Ngauruhoe makes a great addition to the day. The route up is steep but not technical. It does, however, mean getting up and down a lot of loose scree.

A couple of days ago, an Auckland teenager (that's right - an actual Kiwi and a tourist!) fell while about half way up the cone. He slid about 50 metres down the hill, and brought a lot of loose rocks down on top of himself.

Thankfully, he didn't get knocked out by any of the rocks. But by the time a rescue helicopter got to him he was in a lot of pain from head, shoulder and neck injuries and was also coughing up blood. Not the best way to cap off your summer vacation!

In a related story, someone we met while doing the Round-the-mountain track told us about another teenager who did the side trip up Ngauruhoe. Apparently there was still quite a lot of snow on the mountain at the time, so after reaching the top she decided it would be fun to glissade down on her bum. She had no ice axe or other means of stopping or slowing her descent and soon lost control. Her walk also ended with a helicopter ride to the hospital.

Having said that, rest assured that thousands of other people have climbed and descended Ngauruhoe without incident, and many consider it to be one of the highlights of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It does add extra time to an already long day, but if you've got the experience and the fitness, there's no reason not to go for it. Just be careful up there!


Phreerunner said...

This brings back good memories:

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