WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A Japanese climber was rescued Thursday after surviving five days of blizzard conditions on a North Island mountain where six soldiers froze to death this week.
Joji Iwama, 27, who said he had listened apprehensively on a portable radio to details of the soldiers' deaths and his own stalled rescue efforts, was found while inching down Mount Ruapehu, 200 miles north of Wellington.
Iwama, a restaurant worker in Auckland, climbed Ruapehu Aug. 8 and was last seen Saturday digging a snow cave to escape a blizzard.
He said after his rescue that he had planned to walk down the mountain Saturday but lost his way in the freezing conditions.
'There was a white-out and terrible freezing conditions 20 or 35 minutes after I left the snow cave,' Iwama said. 'I couldn't locate where I was walking and I decided to dig another snow cave.'
Iwama said he carried a small radio and heard of the deaths of the six soldiers who failed to survive the same blizzard while on a training mission just a few hundred yards away.
He said he also heard details of how the weather conditions were hampering efforts to locate him.
'I really became scared and wanted to listen to every broadcast to hear how my resuce attempts were getting on,' he said.