12 Dec 2008

Australian climbers missing on Aoraki-Mt Cook

10:02 pm on 12 December 2008

Two Australian climbers are missing on Aoraki-Mount Cook in the Southern Alps.

The middle-aged men were flown into Plateau Hut on Saturday 6 December and set out to climb Aoraki-Mount Cook via the Zurbriggens route at 1am on Wednesday.

Their lights were seen by other climbers at 11.30pm on Wednesday night, high up on the ridge, but they have not been seen since and have not returned to their hut.

Police say the weather since Wednesday has been unsettled and there is between 25cm and 30cm of new snow at Plateau Hut.

Department of Conservation rescue staff and police have been waiting for a clearance in the weather, before starting an aerial search for the missing pair.

The search was suspended on Friday night and would resume on Saturday.

It comes a week after a Japanese climber was rescued on the same mountain after being trapped by bad weather.

His climbing guide died of exposure before rescuers could reach the men.