Nicole Sutton knew her life was ebbing away as she huddled next to her dead companion in horrendous conditions near the summit of Mt Taranaki.
As a blizzard raged around their snow cave for a second night on Sunday, Ms Sutton texted police to tell them she didn’t expect to survive till morning.
Miraculously, rescuers reached her alive early yesterday morning, but she died in their arms.
Her partner and climbing companion, Japanese man Hiroki Ogawa, 31, had died during the night as the atrocious conditions thwarted rescue attempts.
Miss Sutton, 29, from Auckland, was texting police and rescue teams during the ordeal giving them directions.
Like many New Zealanders I followed this story for two days, hoping they would be rescued in time, but two nights in a blizzard is just too much for almost anyone.
A sad reminder of how dangerous even New Zealand mountains can be. As far as I can tell, this was not a case of under-prepared – it was simply a case of the conditions turning so treacherous. The fact rescuers took so long to be able to reach them gives you an idea of how bad it must have been.
The parents of Nicole Sutton have said the couple died doing what they loved, and that is some consolation for losing loved ones so early on. Almost identical words were used at the funeral of one of my school friends who died when he was around 21 – also on Mt Taranaki. In Tommy’s case, he slipped down the mountain – so at least it was a near instant death.