EXHAUSTED and freezing, Ewen Scott picked up 13-year-old David Kilvert and began carrying him through the blizzard that would kill them.
The teacher and student's last moments at Cradle Mountain are as tragic as they are heroic and are one of Tasmania's enduring images of wilderness history.
Fifty years later this week, survivor Mark Whittle can recall that treacherous afternoon like it was yesterday.
"They did fall down at one stage but got back up again - by then we couldn't see any more because of the dark. That was the last that we saw of them," he said.
Remarkable photos have surfaced of David walking in the snow and playing with mates during the five-day trek.
None of the images hint at the fate that awaited the group when the weather - described by then park ranger Gordon Saunders as the worst he'd ever experienced - set in.
On May 16, 1965, 16 Riverside High School students set out from the southern end of Cradle Mountain National Park at Arm River.
"We were greatly looking forward to the Cradle Mountain walk," Mr Whittle said.
"We had a lot of meetings, a lot of discussion, a lot of preparation gearing up for it."
Teachers John Chick and Rosemary Bayes and student-teacher Ewen Scott, 26, were in charge.
On the last day, the walking party woke to rain, sleet and snow lashing their Waterfall Valley Hut.
Overnight a huge dump had raised the snow on the Overland Track to two to three feet.
Waiting for the dirty weather to clear, the group didn't set out on the final 15 or so kilometres of the journey to Waldheim Chalet until after midday.
The last stretch of trail between Barn Bluff and Cradle Mountain is called the Cirque.
"It's high and it's exposed, and of course going up there, the snow became deeper," Mr Whittle recalled.
Trudging through the thigh-deep snow soon exhausted the walkers, who were carrying packs weighing up to 15 kilograms each.
"And the wind was actually howling across there from the west. Because the snow was actually fresh, the wind was picking it up and driving it into us," Mr Whittle said.
"The wind was so strong it was blowing us off our feet."
The Examiner reports at the time put the temperature at one below zero, before wind chill was factored in.
Conditions worsened to the point that continuing along the planned route across the exposed side of Cradle Mountain, over Marions Lookout, was intolerable.
The decision was made to drop down the right side of the mountain towards Lake Rodway.
"I think from the Cirque track down to where we went - in pounds, shillings and pence - it's about 800 feet or 1000 feet. Once we went over the edge of the track, that gave us a reprieve," survivor David Bennell said.
"Until we eventually had to come back up again."
As they walked out from the protection of Cradle's smaller peak Little Horn, mother nature renewed her assault on the group.
It was getting dark and the students began to separate, a teacher remaining with each dispersed group as they stumbled up Hansons Peak.
Exhaustion and hypothermia triggered delirium among some of them.
"I remember one person actually started singing nursery rhymes," Mr Whittle said.
With night about to fall, Miss Bayes, leading the front group, sent students Dianne Batten, Peter Williams and Bernard Hay ahead to raise the alarm.
But an overflowing creek stopped them just a kilometre or so from Waldheim Chalet and help.
Unable to see how deep the creek was in the dark, the trio would hunker down for the night only to find that the water was knee-deep at first light.
Miss Bayes's group, including Mr Whittle and Mr Bennell, would seek shelter in the boat shed by Dove Creek.
Mr Chick and students Helena Kropf, Marcia Routley and David Rowbottom had fallen way behind and would spend a "very miserable night" on Hansons Peak.
In the middle group were Mr Scott, David, Mr Whittle and some other boys.
"David Kilvert by this stage was very exhausted - he had pushed himself hard during the walk to keep up with the older, bigger boys," Mr Whittle said.
The teenager was also possibly suffering a virus before the trip.
"David actually collapsed at least once and was picked up again. So Ewen Scott said to us 'go on with the others - I'll look after David," he said.
"I won't say he ordered us to go on but he told us very firmly.
"I suspect that Ewen realised that David was on the way down. The last we saw of them, David was being carried by Ewen Scott."
KARINA Brooks (nee Kilvert) was a month off seven, playing in her front yard at Blackwall when the police car pulled into the driveway.
"I can remember sitting on the floor telling the ginger cat 'David's dead'. It's just a way a child deals with things," she said.
"I was sheltered from all the newspaper details, the inquest that followed, while the rest of my family was largely very traumatised."
David's body was found on the Friday morning off the side of Hansons Peak about 100 metres from the Dove Lake car park.
"I don't know whether he fell down or whether in fact Ewen Scott had actually placed him there. Ewen may have realised that the other (students) may have come along behind and he didn't want them to find David," Mr Whittle said.
"David had probably passed away by then or was very close to death, and Ewen decided to leave him and perhaps get assistance."
Mr Scott's body was found off the track underneath some heath.
The death "broke" David's brother Paul, who was 18 months older.
He died in 2009 from a brain tumour. At the time he was a shuttle bus driver at Cradle Mountain.
"His heart was there as well," Mrs Brooks said.
Nobody on the walk talked about the walk.
Mr Whittle believes it was 25 years before he talked openly about the trip.
"We didn't talk with teachers and I suspect most of us didn't even talk with our parents about it," he said.
"So you just bottle it up inside you."
Most of the students on the walk returned to school on the Monday.
"It affected people differently. Some quite dramatically," Mr Bennell said.
"Some haven't got over it to this day."
Former Riverside High School student Patricia Beams, now a school staff member, recalls headmaster John Walker gathering the pupils and teachers together.
"I remember the assembly as clearly as anything. Mr Walker spoke to us … it was just so emotional. It was very traumatic. We all felt it. I was ... we were all in tears. But it was good that he told us the story," she said.
"(Mr Scott) was a lovely man, really gentle. He had a good rapport with the kids."
"I've been working here for 20 years. I was here then and at that assembly, and I feel quite honoured that I'll be at the 50th anniversary.
RECOVERY AND REMEMBRANCE - THE SCOTT-KILVERT MEMORIAL HUT
FOR the survivors, the families and the community, healing came with the public outpouring of grief and the building of the Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut.
Within 10 months of the tragedy, the hut stood at Lake Rodway in memory of the dead and for any hikers who struck trouble in the future.
"Being involved in building the hut was a kind of healing thing for us. It was something positive, it was the memory to Ewen and David, and to have all the people working towards that aim was just amazing," Mr Whittle said.
"There were tonnes and tonnes of material taken in to build the hut. Some materials were taken by helicopter.
"Special permission had to be gained and it was decided that Lake Rodway was the most suitable place."
For Mrs Brooks, who began researching the tragedy in her later years, to see the "massive outpouring of public support" following the deaths was remarkable.
Each year she and other family members walk into the Scott-Kilvert Memorial hut to mark the anniversary.
The 50th anniversary walk-in this Saturday is seen as the last time many of the survivors will be alive to commemorate an important anniversary.
"There's going to be representatives of different generations doing all this on behalf of family and friends," Mr Bennell said.
IN HIS memorial address, Mr Walker said "out of tragedy can come greatness."
Ewen Scott's final moments carrying the dying teenager through a snowstorm went on to define heroism for the school.
"I think it's part of the school's history and the ethos of the school. Students were encouraged to be involved in things, to do things, to achieve and do their best," Mr Whittle said.
The following year the Scott-Kilvert memorial prize was instituted and it has continued ever since.
The school's current head prefects, Chanice Chukka and Ryan Gregson, are planning a student-designed and made sculpture to commemorate the tragedy.
"So it's not forgotten and it still lives through future generations of Riverside High School students'," Ryan said.
"You just get the sense that it was a remarkable effort by everyone involved on the walk and especially Ewen Scott and David Kilvert doing what they did."
LIST OF EVENTS:
■ Scott/Kilvert 50th anniversary weekend 15-17 May 2015.
■ Friday 11am: Riverside High School commemorative assembly.
■ Saturday: Walk to Scott-Kilvert Hut, Lake Rodway. Some people plan to walk in and out on the Saturday, or stay overnight and walk out on the Sunday morning.
■ Sunday 2pm: Commemorative ceremony at Dove Lake Car Park - A ceremony in memory of Ewen Scott and David Kilvert.
■ Anyone is welcome to the events. For more information, contact the school or Mark Whittle on mark1949@bigpond. net.au or 0407 803 529.