American Climber Killed in New Zealand Glacier Accident

A young American mountain climber was killed and two others injured in a fall on a New Zealand glacier, police said Tuesday.

Three 20-year-old Americans, all students at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, fell about 1,600 feet Monday night while descending a glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand's South Island, said Wanaka police Constable Mike Johnston.

Police identified the victim as Austin Hanchey of Fairview, Tenn., an environmental conservation student at Idaho State University on a semester of study in New Zealand.

Fellow climbers Jesse Kattmeyer and Michael Gavillot were injured but survived. Police released the survivors' names, but not their hometowns.

Gavillot underwent surgery Wednesday and was recovering in Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit with restricted visiting, a hospital spokeswoman told local news agency, New Zealand Press Association.

Kattmeyer was listed in a stable but serious condition awaiting surgery.

The three men were roped together when one slipped, and all three fell, Johnston said.

Gavillot suffered serious leg and back injuries. Kattmeyer, suffered a broken collarbone and concussion, took care of his injured friend before climbing down to a mountain hut to seek help.

Searchers located the surviving pair Tuesday, Johnston said.

"The only reason he's really alive is because his mate managed to get down to that hut and raise the alarm" after a perilous nighttime descent through crevasses, ice and rock, he said.

Wanaka search and rescue expert Gary Dickson said it was surprising the duo even survived the "huge fall."

"People who survive that have definitely used up one of their nine lives," he told National Radio.

Dickson said the young man who raised the alarm had "crossed some pretty full-on glaciated country" with a broken collar bone and concussion to reach a mountain hut where he could use an emergency radio to call for help.

"There is the accident, but there is also the heroism, getting out of the sticky situation. He's done awfully well to deal with that," he said.

The two surviving men were airlifted to Dunedin Hospital.

Wanaka is a farming and tourist town 500 miles south of the capital, Wellington.

Hanchey's mother, Faith, told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that her son loved the outdoors and wanted to educate others about the environment.

"He loved it, he absolutely loved it," she said of New Zealand. "He was in a place that he enjoyed and he was doing what he enjoyed, and that thought kind of has to carry you through."