A 29-year-old Australian climber has fallen to her death while climbing the 2,764-meter peak onto the Eugenie Glacier in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park at around 8:25 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Local police inspector, Dave Gaskin, said the lady fell 300 meters down Footstool mountain on New Zealand’s South Island.
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The climber was airlifted to a nearby rescue base after members of her climbing party set off a locator beacon, but she died shortly after arriving. The lady was in critical condition when the rescue teams arrived.
Police noted that the woman and her climbing party were all experienced climbers and were all well equipped. Weather conditions did not contribute to her fall because conditions were good.
“All members of the climbing party, including the victim, were experienced and well equipped,” inspector Dave Gaskin said. “Weather conditions prior to the accident are understood to have been good.”
“The other members of the climbing party have been airlifted back to Mt Cook village and are helping police piece together what led to the accident occurring,” Gaskin said.
The climbing accident is the second climbing death in the past month in the Aoraki-Mt. Cook National Park. Stephen Dowall, a South Canterbury-raised UN worker based in Myanmar, died after he couldn’t reach the Empress Hut at the head of the Hooker Glacier, in poor conditions in late November. Stephen Dowall was reported missing by his climbing companion, Wanaka’s Rob Hawes, after the two got separated.
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Inspector Gaskin said police urged those going climbing should carry a personal locator beacon so that help could be sent quickly in an emergency.
The ladies name is expected to be released on Thursday after police notify her family.
Some mountaineering statistics.
Most non-fatal and fatal mountaineering accidents occur in the states of Washington, California, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska. Of these five states, Washington and California have the highest number of mountain accidents. The reason that Washington and California have the most accidents is because they have the greatest area of climbable terrain and they have a high number of “trophy” peaks (ex: Denali, Rainier, Half Dome, etc…) These “trophy” peaks attract a large number of non-local people who are overly eager to get to the summit.
Oregon also has a high number of fatalities, mostly due to the fact that Mt. Hood seems to have a fair number of fatal accidents a year.
The highest number of accidents and deaths occurred between the 1970’s and the 1980’s, especially in Washington and California. This was because new routes were being established and created and new terrain was being explored.
The percentage of Alaska’s mountaineering accidents and fatalities are rising and it’s due to an increase in Alaskan climbing as well as an increase in Alaskan climbing as well as an increase in the amount of mountain accidents that are being reported.
There has also been a slight increase in the amount of accidents that occur on the Atlantic-North coast over the years. This increase comes from an increase in activities such as dragging, skiing, and ice climbing.
How to avoid mountain climbing accidents.
Have the proper mountain climbing gear. The right gear prevents accidents. Make sure your equipment is new or replaced if it’s old before you climb. Also, make sure you have crampons and snow shoes when climbing a mountain.
Prepare for the weather. If lightning is prevalent on a mountain that you are planning on climbing, you should learn how to protect yourself from it. Also, be sure and prepare yourself for extended time on the mountain in case anything unexpected happens. Be prepared also includes having warmer, emergency clothes and knowledge of how to escape lightning.
Consider carrying emergency devices. This can include a cell phone, avalanche probes, and personal location devices. The emergency devices you choose should depend on what type of mountain you are climbing and what the risks are for that particular mountain. At the minimum, you should take an emergency cell phone, water and a first aid kit.
Most of all, respect the mountain. Mountains can be treacherous and sometimes are not thought of as being dangerous for beginners. It’s easy to lose footing when climbing the steep parts of a mountain.
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