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Snowy Range Blizzard Stops Walker in his Tracks

17th July, 2019

With stunning alpine vistas and magnificent views, the Nevada Peak track in the Snowy Range is located in South East Tasmania. It is subject to sudden changes of weather and a large part of this walk is across an exposed plateau with almost no shelter.

On Saturday 24th September 2016, Ian Cantle, an experienced solo walker, embarked on a weekend bush walk/snow trip, complete with snow shoes. Ian knew this walk and its challenges.

He was due back the next day, Sunday.

Before long, Ian was in the middle of a white out blizzard and 100+km winds, the track became invisible in the snow and without a GPS, and he searched for the track for two days but had to retreat into his tent and sleeping bag at night to keep warm. On the Monday, Ian realised how worried his partner would be about him and so on the Monday activated his EPIRB. His partner had also called 000.

Whit his EPIRB activated the Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew narrowed the search and winched a paramedic and a rescue air crewman into the area. It was three hours from the time of ERPIRB activation to him being found by the crew. Ian remembers seeing the helicopter and thinking “they are not going to land that her are they? The first thing the rescue crew said to him was “is the coffee ready?”

The crew then walked Ian back to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter at Lake Skinner, however his adventure did not end there. As the chopper could not land, the pilot and crew had to perform a hover rescue in strong wind and low cloud. Once inside, he was flown to be reunited with his partner.

Ian wants to remind everyone who goes bushwalking to ensure they have an EPIRB or PLB with them. Without it he may have been forced to bunker down in his tent for another two days before the blizzard abated and he was running low on rations.


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