Rescued climber calls friend a hero

Published: July 16, 2008 | 7216th good news item since 2003

An Auckland man who survived a 170 metre plunge down a mountain in the Southern Alps, says he owes his life to his mate.

Steffen Poepjes waited in the mountains for two hours while his friend ran for help.

“I thought I was a goner…I was terrified,” says Poepjes from his hospital bed.

The climbing pair videoed their successful climb to the top of Mount Philistine.

But it all went wrong on the way down.

“I was facing the rock, down climbing and just one foothold gave way, and it was over from there,” says Poepjes.

Poepjes is calling his friend, Cameron Walker, a hero.

“He saved my life pretty much. I was pretty sore and pretty cold up the mountain waiting, but if it wasn’t for him, no one would have found me,” he says.

Walker says he feared the worst while climbing down the mountain looking for his friend after seeing him fall.

“I was looking for a blood trail straight away,” he says.

But after finding his friend alive, he was able to raise the alarm.

“I told him to keep his eyes open, and he wasn’t to sleep,” says Walker.

After raising the alert, a rescue chopper was there within an hour and winched Poepjes to safety.

“He secured him in a good little bit of a nook against a rock…he was in a good stable condition,” says Grant Withers, Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot.

The climbing expedition up Mount Philistine was the finale to a South Island adventure trip, but despite the accident, both say they haven’t been put off climbing.

Published in Heroes
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