Climbers survive an avalanche and blizzard in New Zealand’s famous mountain range thanks to the snow cave and muesli bars

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Two New Zealand mountaineers have miraculously survived after being buried by an avalanche and then caught in a blizzard atop one of New Zealand’s most famous mountain ranges. Their instinct for survival kicked in after being faced with the natural calamity. They managed to survive, however, by building a snow cave and munching on muesli bars until help arrived.

The pair, believed to be in their 20s, were stuck atop The Remarkables mountain range – a 2,300m high range above Queenstown – during their three-day ice climbing adventure days.

According to local media, the climbers, whose identities were not provided, had spent three nights camping and climbing in the area over the weekend before the weather deteriorated on Monday.

After waking up on Tuesday morning, both found their tent almost buried in snow. Then they decided to get out, but before crossing an area through a small ravine, they unknowingly triggered a large Class 2 avalanche, large enough to bury a person, officials said.

The avalanche would have been about 70 m in diameter and carried them about 20 m to the south, and partially buried them.

After getting out, both contacted the police. They attempted to rescue twice, but blizzard conditions prevented cops from reaching them by helicopter.

Since the conditions were not favorable, the two returned to their camp the previous night. But instead of erecting the wet tent, they dug a snow cave under a huge boulder and crouched down.

Wakatipu Alpine Cliff Rescue team coordinator Russ Tilsley said they had plenty of food with around 15 muesli bars, which helped them brave the cold.

“It was incredibly lucky that the men were on the edge of the avalanche when it hit,” Tilsley said, as quoted by The Guardian.

“They were lucky they were there and not 50 or 100 meters out in the current because they would probably have been dead,” he added.

(With agency contributions)

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