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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

The East Matukituki Accident

The East Matukituki Accident.

While doing valuable climbing work in new territory at the head of the East Matukituki River, Aspiring region, Otago, a party of New Zealand Alpine Club members met unexpected trouble. S. W. Studholme fell from a glazed snow slope, and descended over a bluff to injure his back on a rock 35 feet below. All this was in the still evening, in country far more inaccessible than the Harman Pass, previously described.

Fortunately the Otago men numbered five, and were strong in their resource. Slowly the injured man was moved to a camp at the head of the valley, while two men dashed down the river and gorge to the Aspinall's homestead where a short-wave wireless set enabled communication to be made with Roland Ellis, of Dunedin, who organised a fully-equipped relief expedition.

Brief extracts from the New Zealand Alpine Journal will explain the difficulties attending the rescue: “The stretcher party moved on shortly after nine o'clock to the hardest work of the relief. After following the boulder-strewn riverbed for about half a mile, the party was compelled to take to the bush, where two men with axes cleared page 41 a track ahead of the stretcher. Assistance was necessary in lifting the stretcher over the enormous boulders and in receiving it when lowered on the other side. All were in the water nearly as often as on the banks.” The river crossings were formidable. “Six men, with the stretcher on their shoulders, then entered the lines (rope) and, although the icy raging torrent approached the armpits, they successfully reached the other bank without wetting the patient.” “On one occasion when rounding a bluff, one of the bearers, in an endeavour to stand on air, found himself suspended at full arm's length below the stretcher, but fortunately the others were able to hold both him and the stretcher.”

It is satisfactory to relate that Stud-holme recovered, and owes his life to the efficiency and endurance of those men of the Otago mountains.