A Biscuit a Day Kept the Reaper Away - US students lost for 9 days

This week two US students trapped in New Zealand's South Island wilderness by a snowstorm, trekked back out to safety after surviving their nine-day ordeal by rationing their meager supplies to a biscuit and jelly per day. "I believe when you go into the bush you take your life into your own hands and need to be prepared to handle whatever conditions occur,"  said 21 year old  Alec Brown . "We could have been more prepared, but in the end we were prepared enough to walk ourselves out." We disagree.

Erica Klintworth and Alec Brown are lucky to be alive after several days in heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures in the Arthurs Pass Area.

The Story

Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, both 21, returned to the city of Christchurch today after meeting up with members of a search team famished but otherwise in good shape, police said. The two students, on a foreign study program in New Zealand with University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, had planned to hike and camp for a few days at some hot springs on the South Island. But heavy rains and a snowstorm prevented the couple from being able to cross a river and return. "Unfortunately it rained and rained, day after day, and snowed," Alec Brown wrote in an email to The Associated Press today. He said the nights were tough to take because the rain and sleet pounded down on the tarpaulin covering their sleeping hammock and the river roared reminding them all the time of their predicament. When they realized they were going to be stuck they started rationing: "a biscuit and jelly one day," Brown wrote "and even less another." The couple's ordeal began June 1 when a friend dropped them off at a national park on the South Island's West Coast so they could hike in and camp for a few days. "They were just going to the hot springs, to chill out and study for finals," Jenkins said, adding that she continued on with her own travels and didn't realize the couple were missing until eight days had passed, which is when she raised the alarm. The couple didn't take much food, some carrots, rice, peanut butter and trail mix, according to Police Sgt. Sean Judd, who coordinated rescue attempts. He said that after three days, a steady rain started. "Then on Wednesday the snowstorm hit and it got progressively worse," Judd said. Brown said that soaking in the hot pools "helped keep us warm and slow energy loss. It wasn't until Sunday, Brown said, that the river finally seemed safe enough to cross again. He and Klintworth prepared for their hike out by cooking up a "good meal" of rice, marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate, he said. "We then left and crossed the icy waters only up to our waist," he said. "We were climbing the mountains under the dense tree cover when we first heard the helicopter we assumed was looking for us. The copter never saw us and we walked out just fine and met up with the search and rescue by the road."

West Coast Search and Rescue Co-ordinator Sergeant Sean Judd said Police held serious concerns for the pair's welfare there has been heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures for several days and the information gathered from friends suggested the pair is not well equipped for extreme conditions. "The weather in there has been horrendous, the students made some good decisions, “such as not crossing a river”, but “failed to leave written intentions". - their preparedness was “lax” given the weather. " Sergeant Judd said.

Our Conclusion We are really glad these guys got out alive; unfortunately many similar stories have tragic endings. We cant help but think that if they didn’t have access to, or were cut off from the hot springs this story would have ended very differently. 

SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. TELL SOMEONE YOU TRUST YOUR PLANS, IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Whilst most trips into the outdoors go without a hitch, you need to be fully prepared so that if the unexpected happens, that there are appropriate measures in place to recognize there is a problem, alert the appropriate authorities and if necessary, enable rescuers to find you quickly. The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council encourages the use of The Outdoor Safety Code across all outdoor activities, sports and recreations.

• Plan your trip: Seek local knowledge, plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take. (More info)

• Tell someone you trust, that will look out for you: Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. (On the day expected!)

• Be aware of the weather: New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes.

• Know your limits: Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.

Take sufficient supplies: Make sure you have enough food, equipment and emergency rations for the worst case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication   The New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process (endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies) provides 3 simple options which enable you to 'tell someone' all the details about your land-based trip into the outdoors.

The Outdoor Intentions Form

Although most trips into the outdoors go without a hitch, you need to be fully prepared so that if the unexpected happens there are appropriate measures in place to recognise there is a problem, alert the appropriate authorities and, if necessary, enable rescuers to find you quickly.

The New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process (endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies) provides 3 simple options which enable you to 'tell someone' all the details about your land-based trip into the outdoors.

Check the graphic below and choose the option that best suits you.


 

Click here to register with Adventure Smart to ensure you have a safe journey.

Tags
New Zealand
Adventure
Nature
Wintersports
Brent Narbey
Submitted by
Brent Narbey
: 12 Jun 2012 (Last updated: 31 Jul 2017)

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