Bea­con life saver

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Woke up to clouds but no rain and set off from the Top Forks Hut. Hike up to water­fall face was steep one. As­cent over the face was O.k., some parts you’d try but come back down to try again from a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion. I even­tu­ally got over the face and into the up­per val­ley of the Rab­bit Pass. A breezy walk to what turned into a dis­as­ter. I got to a sad­dle and based off the de­scrip­tion of vis­ual land­marks, the marker at the top of the sad­dle and no men­tion of an­other route branch­ing off the Rab­bit Route, I took this val­ley as the Rab­bit Pass Val­ley. This was in­cor­rect.

I started down the val­ley and while my com­pass was telling me one thing, the map and route de­scrip­tion were telling me an­other. In the end I fol­lowed the lat­ter and ended up deep in the moun­tains, forc­ing my way down the "Pear­son"

val­ley to a river I be­lieved would lead down to Junc­tion flat, but it ended up tak­ing me to the back of Mt As­pir­ing. The ter­rain be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult un­til I had lit­er­ally trapped my­self in a ravine with no way out but for­ward.

Based on my sit­u­a­tion and grow­ing bad feel­ing, I knew that to con­tinue for­ward would se­verely in­crease my risk of in­jury or worse. I then set off my Lo­ca­tor Bea­con for SAR to save my ass from my­self. I spent the night in the ravine dur­ing a storm which de­layed the res­cue un­til the morn­ing the fol­low­ing day. SAR flew up the val­ley and af­ter spot­ting me, landed, broke out the ropes and got me out of there in no time.

Ob­vi­ously my pride was hum­bled set­ting off the Bea­con, but only up un­til I saw where on the map I was and where I was go­ing. I was get­ting into deeper trou­ble ev­ery step, at­tempt­ing to push on­wards.

With­out any doubt, had I not had that Lo­ca­tor Bea­con, I would have ended up miles away from any trail, be­yond any hope of be­ing spot­ted from a Search and Res­cue.

To the boys at SAR, thanks for sav­ing my ass. And to any­one look­ing to tramp in un­fa­mil­iar ter­rain, bring a Lo­ca­tor Bea­con, don’t think twice about it.

- Matt Essle­mont

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