Two walkers caught in a blizzard on Hobart’s Mount Wellington are lucky to be alive, Tasmanian police say.
In all, eight people were retrieved from the summit of the iconic peak after becoming stranded by the driving wind and snow of the extreme weather event.
News of the rescues follows the death of a woman struck by a falling tree in stormy weather on Tasmania’s northwest coast.
Authorities say a group of four walkers became exposed to wild winds and heavy snow at Kunanyi observation point, also known as The Pinnacle, shortly after midday on Saturday.
The party sought help from two other people in the area and the six took refuge in a toilet block until help arrived.
Police, ambulance and Wellington Park rangers trekked through the storm to reach the group and walk them to safety.
Two more walkers also became disorientated in the wind and snow on Saturday evening on the Zig Zag track, just below the peak, and contacted emergency services.
Taken straight to hospital
Police tracked their phones and, along with paramedics, found the pair sheltering behind rocks near a snow-covered track about 10.30pm.
The group was treated at the scene for exposure and assisted down the mountain before being taken to hospital with cold-related injuries and hypothermia.
“All the people involved started with the best intentions but ultimately some were not prepared for the extreme and variable conditions,” Senior Constable Callum Herbert said on Sunday.
“People should heed warnings about walking on the mountain and in alpine areas as both rescues … put themselves and their rescuers at significant risk.”
If the pair had become lost without shelter as night fell on the mountain, Const Herbert said they would “almost certainly have perished if it wasn’t for the tenacity of the rescuers”.
“They were very lucky.”
Police say the 54-year-old woman killed at Beulah late on Saturday afternoon was one of two people trapped under the fallen tree.
Both were treated at the scene.
A 54-year-old man was taken to Launceston General Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.