Tramper rescued from mountain ledge

23rd February 2009

A Southern Institute of Technology nursing graduate who fell 20 metres down the side of a mountain said he owes his life to a [ACR - ed.] locator beacon and those who responded to its signal.

Scott Pauley, 32, was rescued after spending three hours stuck in a precarious position on a cliff face on the Dusky Track, near Lake Roe, in Fiordland National Park on Saturday.

After taking a wrong turn, Mr Pauley found himself scrambling for his life as he plummeted down the side of the mountain. Miraculously, he managed to stop himself on a tiny ledge, just big enough for him to sit on. Below was a 250-metre vertical drop.

news - scott pauly 2

Suffering only minor scrapes and bruises, Mr Pauley activated the [ACR - ed.] emergency locator beacon he had hired for the tramp. Within minutes a satellite relayed his location co-ordinates to the National Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which dispatched the Fiordland Search and Rescue team who located him about 12.30pm.

"It saved my life having the locator beacon, no doubt about that," Mr Pauley said.
Southern Lakes Helicopter pilot Richard "Hannibal" Hayes, Te Anau police Constable Glenn Matheson and St John ambulance officer Phillip Robertson had the challenging task of finding Mr Pauley, who was lodged in a crevice.

The mountain was obstructing the beacon's signal but the team managed to find the vicinity of his location. Soon afterwards they spotted a bright yellow pack liner, which Mr Pauley had displayed to make himself more visible.

Both Mr Hayes and Mr Robertson agreed that had Mr Pauley not had a locator beacon he could still have been stuck on the mountain.

Mr Robertson said the new 406MHz beacons were far superior to the previous 121.5/243 MHz models because they transmitted signals to the rescue co-ordination centre in minutes, as opposed to hours.

"If it had been one of the old beacons he might still have been up there today that's if he survived a night without falling."

- Source [abridged]: Amy Milne (The Southland Times)

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