Mountain Rescue: when good days go wrong in the mountains

Mountain Rescue by Phillip Melchior
Mountain Rescue by Phillip Melchior

With long experience as journalist, mountaineer, and alpine rescuer, Phillip Melchior is perfectly equipped to take us behind the news reports of life and death in the Southern Alps. He steps us through eleven dramatic and highly personal tales of alpine search and rescue, one decision at a time.

“Make sure you fall in love with a man who you know will survive in the bush,” wrote Jenny Bornholdt. “This way, when he is three nights overdue from his trip and the search and rescue team is out looking for him …”

When Capital Choir was rehearsing Felicia Edgecombe’s song based on Bornholdt’s poem, I had just read Mountain Rescue. We sang “Make Sure” as a staunch declaration of confidence in a missing hiker or climber, and laughter bubbled just below the surface. Yet sometimes I found myself in tears, because every happy mountaineer is just one stroke of bad luck or bad judgement away from disaster.

I was awed by the meticulous planning, the passion, and the courage of the Land Search and Rescue teams shown in action by Melchior. These down-to-earth men and women tell us not to call them heroes. Well, too bad, they look like heroes, they walk like heroes, they talk like heroes, and so they are heroes, dammit.

The photographs in Mountain Rescue are breathtaking. Profits go to LandSAR Wanaka.

Paperback from Random House Books

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