Six climbers believed trapped on New Zealand mountain

Other News Materials 15 August 2008 07:01 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Six Australian climbers were believed to be trapped in poor weather Friday on New Zealand's Southern Alps after setting off an emergency beacon, officials said.

A helicopter with a specialist alpine rescue team was standing by in the village at the foot of 3,745-metre Mount Cook and awaiting a break in the weather to take off, a Rescue Coordination Centre spokesman said.

Officials ruled out sending a ground party into the mountains because of the risk of avalanches.

The emergency beacon was triggered late Thursday. The spokesman said it was not confirmed to come from the Australian party, but they were the only people who had notified their intention to climb in the region with the Department of Conservation at Mount Cook village.

They were believed to be attempting a traverse of the Sealy Range, which rises to 2,637-metres in the Mount Cook National Park.

Conditions in the area were described as extreme, with gale-force winds and an estimated 1.5 metres of new snow, prompting the Mountain Safety Council to urge all ski tourers and climbers to avoid the area because of the certainty of avalanches, The Press newspaper reported on its website.