4 Dec 2008

Hopes weather will clear for climber rescue attempt

6:26 pm on 4 December 2008

Another attempt to rescue Japanese climbers on Aoraki-Mt Cook could be made on Friday morning, with the prospect of a break in bad weather.

The two men from Tokyo are thought to have been stuck near Middle Peak in the Southern Alps for a week.

Guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, and Hideaki Nara, aged 51, are camped 3,700 metres up the mountain. They began their climb on 26 November and were due back at Mt Cook village last Saturday.

Rescue teams have been waiting to hear from the climbers after a 70kg pack of emergency provisions, including a radio with instructions in Japanese, were dropped beside their tent on Wednesday.

But there has been no word, and rescuers fear the climbers have not noticed the pack.

If the weather improves only long enough for a short flight on Friday, rescuers will drop another emergency pack with a second radio to the climbers.

Heavy rain and snow prevented any flights on Thursday.

Constable Brent Swanson, of Tekapo, says he is confident the provisions will see the climbers through the next few days and they have done the right thing to stay put.

The tent is in the same area that climbers Mark Inglis and Phillip Doole spent 14 days trapped in 1982.