AN injured skier had to wait for land rescuers yesterday after two bids to airlift him off Mount Bogong failed because of bad weather.
Geoff Sutter and his six skiing friends spent a freezing night on Bogong’s Eskdale Spur — the area where two snow boarders have died this year — after he damaged his knee on Monday.
His friend, Trevor Staats, of Wodonga, said Mr Sutter, 55, of Melbourne had damaged his knee near Cleve Cole Hut but had kept walking on it before the group decided to stay the night.
“We went for a ski yesterday and Geoff had an awkward fall and twisted his knee quite badly,” Mr Staats said.
“We skied back to camp at the junction of Eskdale and Granite Flat spurs, but when he woke this morning, his knee was so badly swollen he was unable to bear weight.”
Mr Staats called triple-0 about 8.30am but low cloud and poor visibility forced an Ambulance Victoria helicopter sent to winch him out to abandon its mission.
“The helicopter did a fly-by about 10.20am and again at noon, but both times the weather was too bad,” Mr Staats said.
“After the second fly-by the weather turned into a blizzard so there was no chance of getting him airlifted.”
A team sent on foot to rescue Mr Sutter reached him about 2pm. A sled with a mountain bike-type wheel was used to wheel him 2.5 kilometres down the hill — it was the first time the “uni-sled” has been used.
Mr Sutter was taken to Mount Beauty Hospital by ambulance at 5pm from Camp Creek.
Mr Staats said the group had gone skiing on Saturday, planning to return on Monday.
“We made our first trip here in 1983. We come up every year this weekend with family and friends,” he said.
“We did some fantastic skiing. It’s just a shame we had an injury.
“The speed that police and paramedics got up here was amazing — they did a very professional job.
“This was our last ski for the season but we will be back next year and we reckon Geoff will be back with us.”
Leading Sen-Constable Peter Dilley, of Mount Beauty, said the group had been well prepared.
“It is a good reminder about the importance of preparing and telling people where you are,” he said.