Dis­ori­ented hik­ers lucky to be found

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE - ByVANESSA BURGESS

TWO ill-equipped young hik­ers from Mel­bourne had a lucky es­cape last Tues­day af­ter be­com­ing lost on the Ra­zor­back.

Se­nior Sergeant Doug In­coll of the Bright po­lice said Parks Vic­to­ria con­tacted po­lice af­ter re­ceiv­ing a dis­tressed phone call from the hik­ers, a 25-year old male and 21-year-old fe­male, at 2.30pm.

“They had in­tended to walk to Fed­er­a­tion Hut down the Ra­zor­back to Dia­mantina Spur, and they con­tacted Parks Vic­to­ria to say they were lost on the Ra­zor­back,” he said.

“I was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them on the young man’s mo­bile phone and he told me they had lost their back­packs and only had a light rain coat each, a Bic lighter, iPhone, com­pass and a torch.”

With vis­i­bil­ity down to around 500 me­tres, Snr Sgt In­coll said po­lice utilised the man’s mo­bile phone and were able to iden­tify their lo­ca­tion.

“Their lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude po­si­tion in­di­cated that they were ex­tremely close to the head of Cham­pion Spur which is a track that leads you to the Ra­zor­back from Har­ri­etville,” Snr Sgt In­coll said.

“We had the view that we could guide them to­wards Cham­pion Spur and they could pick it up and be­gin to de­scend, but they still couldn’t find it as it was get­ting dark at around 5pm.

“I told them to stay where they were and we’d send some­one up to find them.”

Snr Sgt In­coll said a group of four, in­clud­ing two po­lice, one Parks Vic­to­ria and one SES mem- ber and two 4WD ve­hi­cles were de­ployed to Cham­pion Spur.

“The search party were able to drive a fair way up Cham­pion Spur as a dozer had cleared the track dur­ing the 2014 fires,” he said.

“They con­tin­ued on foot and found the two hik­ers af­ter about one hour.”

The mild weather worked in the hik­ers favour and Snr Sgt In­coll urged in­ex­pe­ri­enced hik­ers’ to stay away from the high coun­try dur­ing the win­ter months.

“This could have been much, much worse – they were lucky the weather was favourable, although it was rain­ing and cold they weren’t caught in the mid­dle of a bliz­zard,” he said.

“This is another ex­am­ple of in­ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple go­ing into the high coun­try un­pre­pared and five-six po­lice of­fi­cers spent 10 hours try­ing to find them – it’s a huge waste of re­sources and I would en­cour­age hik­ers to stay away from the high coun­try dur­ing win­ter if they haven’t been up there in sum­mer.

“If peo­ple are plan­ning to head up to the high coun­try dur­ing win­ter, please make sure you are ex­tremely well pre­pared and are car­ry­ing all of the ap­pro­pri­ate equip­ment in­clud­ing an epirb, maps, com­pass, warm clothes, food and most im­por­tantly know how to use it.

“I would also urge peo­ple to have a back-up power source for their phones as the cold sucks the power out of the bat­tery much quicker than nor­mal and don’t leave your back­packs un­less you are 100 per cent sure you can lo­cate them again.”

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