The family of an Australian soldier saved from Mt Aspiring after a week in the cold has thanked rescuers and medical crews.
Lieutenant Terry Harch was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital from the mountain on Friday – a week after his ascent began.
Lt Harch used his military training and mountaineering skills to shelter from the cold until help reached his emergency beacon.
Soldier On is delighted that Terry Harch has been found safe and well in New Zealand. Terry is an extraordinary Australian and his previous efforts to raise much needed funds for Soldier On by climbing Mount Cook will never be forgotten #safeandwell pic.twitter.com/lC6dyQcVx4
— Soldier On (@SoldierOnAust) August 3, 2018
He was found in good spirits after waving down his rescuers.
“We would particularly like to thank the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre, Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue and Mount Cook Cliff Rescue for their work in saving his life,” his family, in a statement issued by the Department of Defence, said on Sunday.
“Without these rescue services and their dedicated staff, he might not have survived.”
Lt Harch’s family thanked the medical staff who are treating him for what is understood to be is mild frostbite on his hands and dehydration.
“Mr Harch wishes to return to his duties as an officer in the Australian Army as quickly as possible,” the statement says.
An experienced climber, Lt Harch had previously scaled Mt Cook for charity.
He is thought to have left his heavier gear behind to make a quick ascent – not unusual practice – before being caught out by the weather.