Expensive rescue leads to calls for crackdown on climbers
A TREACHEROUS Mt Beerwah rescue has resulted in calls for tougher penalties to be imposed on those who climb mountains that are off limits.
A solo climber had to be winched off the iconic, but currently closed, Mt Beerwah on Sunday afternoon after SES crews were called to assist about 11.30am.
With the woman trapped above a rock shelf about 100 metres off the ground, Glasshouse Mountains SES group leader Robert Barry said the precarious position meant the only way to reach her was from above.
"We were looking at the time, and darkness was setting in and there was only one way to get her out before dark and that was to get a helicopter in," Mr Barry said.
With a seven-man crew exhausted after an arduous climb to attempt the rescue, Mr Barry said he was sick of people ignoring the mountain's closed status.
"It's a dangerous mountain. There's loose rocks and big boulders that are waiting to fall - that's why the mountain is closed," he said.
"We've got to try and get the message across that it (Mt Beerwah) is closed for a reason."
A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman confirmed that climbers disregarding closures could cop $455 on-the-spot fines and said 20 infringement notices had been issued in the Glasshouse Mountains since June last year. The spokeswoman said climbers were risking far more than a fine by scaling closed peaks.
"The Mt Beerwah and Mt Tibrogargan summit accesses are closed due to real safety risks and anyone climbing the access routes is at high risk of serious injury or death," she said.
Mountain rescues are expensive exercises - an RACQ Care Flight Helicopter Rescue spokeswoman said the average bill for a local mission came to about $12,500.
Mr Barry estimated a "couple of thousand dollars" were tied up solely in man-hours for his crew of seven that attended the scene on Sunday and he felt ignorant climbers should paid for their stupidity.
"You should have to foot a bill or contribute something towards it (rescue costs), not just a thank you," Mr Barry said. "As far as I understand, if a boat breaks down at sea and they're not a member of the Coast Guard, they've got to pay to be towed back in and I think the same should apply if you're winched off a mountain."
The QPWS spokeswoman said the department was following up on the weekend incident and would consider issuing infringement notices.
OPEN (OR CLOSED) FOR BUSINESS:
Open: Mt Tibrogargan and Trachyte circuits, Mt Beerburrum and Mt Ngungun open to walkers
Closed: Mt Beerwah and Mt Tibrogargan summit accesses are closed, Mt Coonowrin is restricted access
For information on park statuses and track openings, visit http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au