Rescuers crawl through ‘leeches and thorns’ on Mt Warning
RESCUERS who helped a stranded bushwalker to safety in deteriorating weather have warned the track to the summit of Mount Warning/Wollumbin in the Tweed - which is currently closed - is in the worst condition they have ever seen.
Any rescues in the future would require a "mammoth effort and additional resources" because "the amount of debris and overgrowth is literally claiming the track back".
The track popular among tourists, Gold Coast and Tweed residents has been controversially closed since March last year. National Parks NSW will apparently review the situation in May.
But it was reported in February that secret NSW Government documents revealed plans to permanently shut off the walking track in northern NSW before the end of this year.
The summit of the famed extinct volcano in the Tweed Valley offers stunning views and is a popular location to see the sunrise.
However, some have raised concerns the track could be closed to hikers for good and compared the situation to the closure of iconic Uluru in the Northern Territory.
Tweed District Rescue Squad took to the track about 4.50pm on Saturday after it was reported a man who had been bushwalking became "stranded near the summit of the mountain in increasingly deteriorating conditions", a statement read.
"The initial request for assistance came after the male bush walker became stuck 50m down from the summit. The climbing chains have recently been removed from the location," it read.
"Rescue operators from Tweed and Brunswick Valley VRA (Volunteer Rescue Association), NSW Ambulance paramedics, NSW Police, and NSW SES members met in the summit track car park to formulate a plan and ensure the team had appropriate equipment.
"Armed with extensive knowledge of the terrain, site specific rescue plans and prepared for changing conditions, Tweed Rescue crews commenced the climb with vertical rescue equipment and supplies."
The operation was a difficult one due to the worsening condition of the closed track, which appears to have had little if any maintenance in recent times.
"Crews found parts of the track so obstructed they were reduced to crawling through overgrowth, contending with slippery rocks, mud, leeches, and thorns," the statement read.
"This rescue has highlighted that the speciality rickshaw frame (stretcher trolley) used for patient extrication is no longer appropriate due to the damaged track and debris.
"This would result in a mammoth effort and additional resources to perform a ground based rescue shall anyone require it.
"One rescue operator who has performed in excess of 100 rescues on the mountain described it as the worst condition I've seen the track in. The amount of debris and overgrowth is literally claiming the track back in sections."
Rescuers returned to the car park at the bottom of the climb with the uninjured bushwalker about 8.30pm.
The statement declared the closure of the summit track was due to "significant safety issues".
"The closure will be reviewed by National Parks in May 2021," the statement read.
"Tweed District Rescue Squad remains prepared for any situation that may occur anytime."
Originally published as Rescuers crawl through 'leeches and thorns' on Mt Warning track