Skip to comments.Icy conditions hinder search for [Australian government] minister
Posted on 08/30/2009 11:43:00 PM PDT by BlackVeil
Poor weather is hampering the search effort in the Victorian alpine region for State Water and Tourism Minister Tim Holding.
Mr Holding has not been heard from since Saturday evening when he headed out on a solo trek to Mount Feathertop, north-east of Melbourne.
It is Victoria's second highest mountain and the climb is dangerous at the best of times.
Police are not confident of finding Mr Holding today because of the weather.
There is low cloud cover and constant drizzle, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Celsius.
Helicopters are unable to join the search because of the low cloud cover and the Bureau of Meteorology says weather conditions are expected to worsen this evening.
Mr Holding set off on his own on Saturday and reached a hut on Saturday evening.
The Victorian Cabinet Minister sent a text message to his partner saying he had arrived.
He was expected home yesterday afternoon.
Police say Mr Holding told fellow hikers yesterday morning he was planning to leave.
Senior weather forecaster Peter Newham says the temperature plummeted to -7 degrees Celsius on Saturday night and early yesterday.
"If anything, the conditions will deteriorate a bit during today with those north-westerly winds freshening," he said.
Acting Superintendent Wayne Rotherham from Victoria Police says the alarm was raised when resort management reported the minister's car was still at the base of the mountain last night.
"We had a team get in there at 5:00am (AEST) this morning. It took them five hours to walk from the initial car park," he said.
"They got to the hut and Mr Holding wasn't there. Since we've released it via the media, we've had someone come forward who saw him at the hut at 7:00am yesterday and from that we have a direction of travel from where he has walked, so we are sending the searchers up there as we speak."
It is believed Mr Holding was headed towards the summit of the mountain.
In the winter months, the peak of Mt Feathertop is thick with snow and the steep hike is also icy, making it a mission only for the most experienced of hikers.
The convenor of volunteer group Bush Search and Rescue Victoria, Frank Zgoznik, says it is a dangerous place to be in bad conditions.
"There is a high risk of accidents on the actual mountain, on the summit itself," he said.
"There is a large overhang of snow that we call a cornice and it has trapped a number of people over the decades.
"The cornice can collapse underneath them and send them down the side of the mountain very quickly, leading to either death or injury."
Acting Superintendent Rotherham says it is believed Mr Holding was seen walking north from the hut yesterday morning, but there are several ways he could have gone.
"Once you get up the top there are rich tracks," he said.
"You can sort of go north, south, east or west, so from the hut we are spreading the searches from those directions so we are just trying to cover all areas."
If Mr Holding has not been injured, there is every reason to believe he is OK. The 37-year-old is said to be fit.
He is an experienced hiker and a former army reservist.
There are about 18 people in the search team, but low clouds have reduced visibility to less than 40 metres, making the use of a helicopter impossible.
Acting Superintendent Rotherham says there is some mobile phone coverage on the mountain.
"We have been attempting to get through on the mobile but there is no coverage," he said.
"We did get a signal emitted from the telephone late last night. We are just trying to track all that down now."
As Water Minister, Mr Holding is in charge of some of the State Government's most controversial projects, but has a reputation for thriving on a high workload and being highly dedicated to politics.
He has held several senior portfolios and is seen as a rising star in the party.
Premier John Brumby is hoping for the best.
But he says his initial optimism about Mr Holding's welfare is being tested.
"I was obviously very hopeful this morning that Tim would walk out and that has not been the case, and so we are increasingly concerned about his welfare and his wellbeing," he said.
It is believed Mr Holding was carrying a thermal sleeping bag, a tent and food.
They need to find him now - in an hour, the light starts fading.
Let us all say a prayer for the searchers, that they may be given strength and guidance.
Why would a govt minister go, and/or be allowed to go, on a solo trek up a dangerous mountain?
He’s probably in Argentina.
Apparently he likes hiking, and is very fit. But I agree, it is not wise.
He has good gear and protective clothing - but he has been out since Saturday. They got a helicopter up briefly during the afternoon. I think they should use dogs, to seek him out.
Prayers, of course - But it sounds like he is pretty geared up and knows the score - If he is dug in, there is a good chance he is alright. A few days in a snow cave may not be comfortable, but it is alot better than the alternative. There is good reason to hope.
It’s awfully nice for the mod’s to leave this in ‘breaking news’ for now. I bet the post gets removed from ‘breaking’ when the sun comes up in the states.
Are you kidding? Would that more had this kind of spirit.
I guess it will be removed. But this person is a public figure, after all.
That’s a challenging-looking mountain for a solo assault. I hope this guy is genuinely skilled.
There is low cloud cover and constant drizzle, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Celsius.Zero Celsius is 32°F; this is the end of August, usually a hot month, and yesterday morning it was 47°F when I got up. This morning it's in the same ballpark. Lousiest summer in recent memory.
Yes, but in Australia, it is winter. The months of June, July and August are winter time. September 21 (or 22?) is the first day of Spring, and December 21 is Summer Soltice.
They’re not called the ANTIpods for nothing!
Plus the toilets swirl in reverse there. All things Australian are fraught with risk!
Lets hope he made it back to the hut
More here with links, including info on his training
sounds like a bad idea all around
How is it that a mountain in Australia has an alpine region when it’s only 6,300 feet but a mountain in Colorado has to be 11,000 feet?
Australia is in the SOUTHEN HEMISPHERE -- seasons are reversed. Its winter there now.
Tim Holding is one of the only socialist politicians I have met that I have any time for. I disagree with him politically, but he’s always struck me as a decent, honest man, genuinely standing up for what he believes to be right and just. He did his time in the Army Reserve in the 1st Commando Regiment, and I’m hoping he has the skills he needs to survive this.
We don’t stick ankle bracelets on them to keep track of them.
Back in the late 1960s, we lost a serving Prime Minister - he literally vanished without trace, never to be seen again, after he went for a swim off a dangerous beach. He thought he knew what he was doing and he was the Prime Minister.
Tim Holding is ex-Army reserve (1st Commando Regiment) and presumably felt safe doing a bushwalk even in somewhat marginal conditions. I wouldn’t have argued with him.
Actually, for some reason, Australia has decided the seasons should start at the beginnings of months, so September 1st is regarded as the first day of Spring. It tends to match the reality reasonably well for most of the seasons, but means our hottest month is sometimes officially the first month of autumn (fall).
He was in the 1st Commando Regiment for three years. I'd hope he has some survival skills.
Because it's there.
Australia doesn't have any 11,000 feet mountains! 7,310 feet is our highest (Mount Kosciuszko) so by our standards, Mount Feathertop at 6,306 feet is a big one.
In Australia, alpine refers to areas where due to elevation trees can't grow and vegetation is restricted to dwarfed shrubs, alpine grasses and ground-hugging herbs. In Victoria, that occurs at about 6,000 feet.
If there is any rhyme or reason as to what gets to be breaking news, I have yet to figure it out.
I posted an earthquake thread before the ground stopped shaking.
Not breaking news? What’s more breaking than an earthquake????
Absolutely, they now control the weather, so all blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes and temperature extremes are their fault. At least I think so. I know I do not have the ability to control weather, no matter what I do, but they think differently, so it is their fault.
Actually, 32 degrees and drizzle will kill you faster than anything else. Much better 30 degrees and snow.
Alpine has the same meaning here but in Colorado it starts at 11,000 ft. I was wondering why it starts at 6,000 in Victoria but 11,000 in Colorado. I could have worded it a lot better though. The further one goes north on our continent the lower the treeline but you have to go all the way up to Montana to get close to a 6,000 feet treeline. I assume the lower elevations in Victoria have milder winters than those of Montana.
When did that happen? I left in 1982, and, sadly, have not been back.
Having hiked in the Adirondacks in late autumn and early winter, I would say that if he was prepared for weather and has not injured himself, simply being lost in 0 Deg. C weather is certainly survivable.
It's been New South Wales practice since colonial times - sometime in the 19th century - although it's spread throughout the country in more recent years.
It supposedly arose because of the dates colonial era soldiers were allowed to switch from winter uniform to summer. Soldiers in their heavy winter uniforms (this was in the day when the redcoat was still the standard uniform) started keeling over on parade in early December and so the army declared summer would begin on the 1st December rather than the 21st and from there, they simply divided the rest of the year into three month seasons.
Makes sense! During the summer, I envied the RAAF getting to wear stubbies while us Yanks had to always wear trousers.
BTW, I left in 1984, not 82. I’m gettin’ old!
I have no idea of the man's philosophy and politics, as I am a world away from you (Montana, USA)- but I know the mettle of a man who can walk off into the mountains alone, the certainty, humbleness, and depth of resolve that rocky cathedrals pour out upon the soul of such a man...
Invariably, those who know wilderness of any kind know what it is to live, or would have died long ago. Surely one to ride the river with (What is it y'all say, "fair dinkum"?). It is that quality that I refer to.
Just reported. He’s been sighted by chopper, alive, no further details yet.
Australian Minister Tim Holding reported found ‘alive and well.’
Good news. And at least he didn’t fly to Argentina to meet with his mistress.
no frostbite or anything?
No details yet - I think after two days in near freezing rainy conditions, they may be defining ‘alive and well’ reasonably loosely - as long as he’ll be OK without major medical intervention, that’s good enough.
He’s well enough to have walked from the helicopter to an ambulance at least, though he didn’t look all that steady on his feet.
Excellent! Link to his story when it appears plz. I'll toss a beer to his good health!
Many thanks for your kind and encouraging message - and you have been proved right. Tim Holding has been found alive, and reasonably well.
It is great to see a news story have a good ending.
That's good.Perishing on a (presumably) snowy mountain in freezing temperatures...alone...can't be a particularly fun way to go.
I wasn’t talking about Australia, I was talking about here. It should be warming up in Australia now, as it gets colder here, but it should be as cold as this. [brrrr]
I do indeed hope he’s okay; maybe he’s just slipped off for some incommunicado love nest action.