Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nineteen: it's a dangerous age

This was the front-page story in the Herald yesterday, about a 19 year-old German tourist who climbed Mt Ruapehu on his own, in light clothing and street shoes, not having told anyone about his plans. You can see where this is going. He fell, broke a leg, and was lucky, having dragged himself a bit back down the mountain, that some other climbers heard his cries of "SOS" and called the helicopter to rescue him. [Digression: SOS? How bizarre. Who would think to shout that? What's wrong with 'Help'? Even 'Hilfe' would have done the trick. SOS - that's just so technical. How German!] Having climbed Ruapehu myself, though not to the summit, I know just how steep and treacherous it is, and how rapidly the weather can change up there. He's a lucky young man who I hope has learned a lesson, and isn't tempted to feel smug. Not like this idiot:
Here we have another 19 year-old tourist, this time a backpacker from Alaska who got left behind by the Ghan in Port Augusta, chased it along the tracks, caught it when it slowed, and perched in a stairwell outside a locked, empty carriage for over two hours as the train raced through the Outback on a chilly winter's night. He was heard, eventually, the train did an emergency stop (spilling my glass of Bailey's as I sprawled out in my Platinum class suite) and he was brought inside suffering from early hypothermia. He was lucky not to have lost his grip and fallen to who knows what fate - as it was, he got off at Alice Springs and a few days later was being feted in Darwin for his exploits. I bet his parents were proud. (But well done, Territorian, on that deathless headline!)

By the way, coincidentally, when I climbed Ruapehu there was a German up there too, also unsuitably dressed - a journeyman carpenter from Frankfurt. But not 19, and sensible.

2 comments:

Holly said...

Lucky I'm not 19 so you don't have to worry anymore about me, hm?

Pamela Wade said...

Sometimes, it's less chronological, more a state of mind...

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