Grave fears for 88-year-old hiker lost on Victoria's highest peak

 theage.com.au  9/16/2017 11:24:00 PM 

Police have grave fears about the safety of an 88-year-old hiker who has been missing in freezing conditions for four days near Victoria's highest peak.

Leslie Southwell lost his friends on Mount Bogong eight days into their hike on Thursday, at which point three days of food, an orange single man tent and was well equipped for the Alpine environment.

But police and family members hold concerns for Mr Southwell's welfare due to his age and the weather conditions in the Alpine area.

Conditions were relatively mild when Mr Southwell went missing but a cold front which swept through the area on Friday night brought rain, snow in parts and freezing conditions.

Tom Delamotte senior forecaster at Bureau of Meteorology said overnight temperatures on Saturday near the peak of Mount Bogong plunged to as low as -5 degrees celsius.

"Since the [cold] front passed through the weather there has been largely clear – but since about midday on Saturday it has been quite cold," he said.

Sunday is forecast to be a calm, sunny day with no wind and temperatures reaching 6 degrees but temperatures could drop to freezing point again overnight.

The octogenarian hiker became became separated walking the 4.7km trek from Cleve Cole Memorial Hut to Michelle Hut.

Police Search and Rescue with the assistance of Bush Search and Rescue members have been searching Mr Southwell since.

He is described as about 167 centimetres with a thin build and short grey hair and was last seen wearing a dark Gore-Tex top and bottom and carrying a royal blue backpack.

Anyone who sights Leslie is urged to contact police.

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