Sunday, 28 December 2008

Ralph Warburton- Mountain guide, photographer and skier


Ralph took his 6 month daughter Janice onto the Franz Josef Glacier, in a back pack, in early 1948. Photo: Ralph Warburton

Having been in New Zealand almost 6 weeks, with time to read and research more on the New Zealand mountains and mountaineers, I have enjoyed rediscovering that amazing West Coast personality, Ralph Warburton, mountain guide, photopgrapher and family man. To unearth more about this man I reread his book, Glacier Country - My Years at Franz Josef and interviewed Peter and Elizabeth McCormack who lived and worked at Franz Josef for many years with Ralph and Joyce, his wife.



Ralph Warburton on skiis in the Kelly Range (near Otira) in early 1945.

I met Ralph a number of times but the most memorable meeting was in 1990 when I organised the Guides Reunion at Franz Josef and Fox Glacier to celebrate 100 year of modern mountaineering in New Zealand, and 100 years since the inception of the New Zealand Alpine Club. Ralph loaned Elizabeth McCormack and I many of his superb photos for the exhibition we put together at Franz Josef. Ralph is such an engaging man with a deep knowledge of the mountains, forests, glaciers, lakes, rivers and history.



The cover photo on Ralph's book - Glacier Country MY YEARS AT FRANZ JOSEF. Scott, his faithful dog and fellow climber, did amazing mountaineering feats with his Master.

Born in 1915 in Invercargill, one of Ralph's earliest memories is leaning on the back gate of his Invercargill home, looking across with awe across the winter plains of Southland to the distant Takitimu mountains. In the early 1940's while living in Greymouth1 Ralph Warburton fell in love with the mountains.



Ralph's playground, the Franz Josef Glacier. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Ralph climbed extensively in Arthur's Pass and climbed the highest, Murchison and others such as Rolleston, Philistine, Avalanche,Temple, Phipps, Blimit,Oates,Davie, Wakeman Mottram Peaks, Barron, Alexander and many lesser peaks in the lower ranges such as the Kelly Range where he did a lot of ski touring. Ralph helped clubs to build huts in his weekends and holidays and participated.


The Almer Hut under snow, New Year's Day 1947 Peter McCormack left and Ralph Warburton right. Behind them is Thelma peak at the head of the Almer Glacier.Photo: Ralph Warburton


Ralph's humour shines through in his book as he tells the story of packing in supplies to build the NZ Alpine Club bivouac on Waimakariri Col and Barker Hut under Mt. Murchison. On the latter building, he says that his job was to carry in several long four by two planks. He had them across his back, lashed to his pack. While crossing White River, he stepped on a wobbly boulder and swayed. One end of the planks caught in the swift flow and tipped him over. " I came up from the water dripping, and was greeted by the hearty laughter of other members of the party," said Ralph. A little annoyed, he later remarked to one of the other members of the load carrying party that he would prefer to have a small load like Bert Barley. Ralph was quickly told that Bert was carrying a 150 pound load and it comprised lead-head nails and small panes of glass each 12 x 18 inches. Ralph said. " I wisely made no further comment."



Mount Cook as viewed from near Graham Saddle crossed countless times by Ralph Warburton. Photo: Bob McKerrow

In the summer of 1945-46 with Bill Meechan, Ralph hired a South Westland bushman Bill Buchanan from Okuru and a pack horse and and spent some weeks in the Arawhata. This was exploration with lots of bush bashing, being contsatntly bluffed, and atacked by blood sucking sandflies. Here they climbed Mt Grant, Mt Buncombe, Turk's Head and discovered Charlie Douglas camp on the slopes of Mt. Iona)
The morning they climbed Mt. Grant, Ralph writes " I will always remember my awakening the next morning. Almost meeting above my head were clusters of beautiful Ranunculus Lyalli, the mountain lily which is really a giant buttercup."

Whether he is skiing on the Kelly Range in Arthur's Pass in winter, Ralph doesn't miss any of nature's creations. His photos of toadstools on the forest floor at Lake Wombat are truly magnificent, as are his landscapes of the mountains or portrasits of the many characters he met.


The mighty Tasman Glacier which was always a drag walking down after the wonderful crossing of Grahams Saddle. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Peter McCormack. who did an ascent of Mt. Cook with Ralph and Harry Ayres, and climbed with him for more than 25 years. describes Ralph " as a very exact climber in which every part of him moved safely." Peter went on to say " I was Ralph's closest friend. As a mountaineer I tried to ask people how Ralph would fit in alongside the great mountain guide of his era, Harry Ayres or Mick Bowie. " I learned more from Ralph Warburton than Harry Ayres," said Peter McCormack. "Ralph was a born teacher and could inspire people," said Peter. "The only limitation that Ralph had, was a certain proneness to mountain sickness," recalled Peter McCormack. " He sometimes was affected crossing Graham Saddle. "When I suggested he join me and Harry Ayres on a Grand Traverse of Mount Cook, Ralph was worried about getting altitude sickness. Fortunately, he climbed brilliantly that day and was not affected at all."


The Waiho Valley where young Ralph Warburton travelled almost every day for 25 years. Photo: Bob McKerrow.

Shortly after his trip to South Westland he gave up his job of watchmaker and trained as a glacier guide. "I remember the year he came, it was the year of the Big Snow, 1946," said Peter McCormack. " The Copland track had been neglected during the war and the Big Snow did further damage and I was working with Steve Graham in clearing the track when Ralph joined after the winter of 1946, " recalled Peter McCormack.


The first home at Franz for Ralph and Joyce.It was in a cow paddock with no water or electricity.Photo: Ralph Warburton

After glacier guiding for some time, Ralph became the official photographer for glacier parties at Franz Josef. He married Joyce in 1949 and started a family who grew up in the tiny South Westland village, a remote spot before the Haast highway was put through years later.


Looking up the Tasman Glacier with a beavy of 3000 metre peaks dominating the skyline. Photo: Bob McKerrow

In his book Ralph describes in lucid, laconic prose, of adventurous crossings of the main divide, of mountain ascents, tragedies, miraculous rescues. He offers vignettes of village and family life, stories of the big weather affecting their lives and livelihoods and of colourful local personalities. It's also a story of love, between a man and his dog. Scott, the 'four-footed mountaineer' learned to climb so he need never be parted from his master. He crossed mountain passes and weathered accidents that would have killed a lesser dog. Scott won the hearts of visitors to the glacier with his skills and his determination to be in party photos, always in one position: centre front.



Lake Mapourika a short drive from Franz Josef. Ralph fished here, and rowed and sailed boats with his children. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Ralph participated in many significant alpine rescues, the crash of Tiger Moth on the Franz Josef Glacier, the rock that crushed Pioneer Hut and killed one occupant, the Ruth Adams rescue with Ed Hillary, and many other dramatic rescues from high peaks and passes.
Ralph Warburton loved everything about the mountains and his biography shows his amazing array of photographic talents. In some way he reminded me of Ebenezer Teichelmann in the manner he used light so effectively in accentuating contours and ridges. His close-ups of alpine plants and toadstools are fascinating as are his relaxed family snaps of his clildren playing, boating and of course, photos of his beloved Scott. I asked the two living people who knew Ralph Warburton better than any others, Peter and Elizabeth McCormack.about his ability as a photographer.



Peter and Elizabeth McCormack. Taken Chrsitchurch December 2008. Peter was born at Franz Josef and lived there until his late 60s. Photo: Bob McKerrow

"Ralph carried on a tradition started by Ebenezer Teichelmann, and continued by Mark Lyssons who was an exceptional photographer in the 1930s at Franz Josef, but sadly died in World War II," said Peter McCormack. Ralph had quietly carried on Mark's work, using his darkroom, and studying his style.

Ralph and Joyce had bigs hearts. They adopted a child, took in children that his sister was struggling to cope with and they all became part of a large, active and loving whanau. Animals were always part of the family, You read with sadness the untimely death of his brother Lloyd who was an outstanding climber and a member of the very successful 1960 New Zealand Alpine Club expedition to Peru in 1960. Ralph gave a lot of support to his brother;s family.

"Ralph loved his rugby and we often used to travel to Christchurch together to watch tset matches," said Peter McCormack. " Often we would listen to the match at Franz Josef and I have fond memories of having a whiskey or two at 3 a.m after a test match."

Ralph was enthuisiastic about things he did. " Whether it was fishing, photography or building a boat, Ralph was terribly enthusiastic at all he did," recounted Peter McCormack.



Looking from Graham Saddle down the shrinking Tasman Glacier. 1993. Ralph crossed this saddle with Scott his dog, many times. Photo: Bob McKerrow

In his book Ralph describes the painful wrench he had to make to move to Dunedin so he could provide good high school education for his children. He left Dunedin after three and a half years and spent the next decade building a house and settling in. Ralph joined the Wanaka walkers and did many enjoyable trips and encouraged blind people to join.He also assisted blind skiers to safely do cross couintry skiing.



Looking up the Fritz range where Ralph Warburton did a lot of climbing. Photo: Bob McKerrow

At 79 hardly able to walk due to arthritis, Ralph discovers nordic skiing in and around Wanaka and he began a new relationship with the mountains of Wanaka, Cadrona and the Pisa range. Ralph regained his fitness and climbed a few small peaks. His final years were active and happy recalls Peter McCormack

Ralph died in 2007 at the age of 92.


Saturday, 27 December 2008

Seasonal Shepherds wanted and the Southern Alps are calling.

I just arrived back in Christchurch today after four days in Otipua, a small hamlet near Timaru in South Canterbury. My daughter, her three children and partner have a small farmlet there. I love being in the country and close to the mighty Southern Alps where I spent so many years living and climbing.

As I am recovering from total knee replacements in both legs, I have a lot of time to read. Newspapers have become my favourite reading and the two best adverts I read over Christmas were.

SEASONAL SHEPHERDS

DO YOU WANT TO EARN SOME REASONBLE CASH WHILE WORKING YOUR DOGS ?

That advert embodies what I love about New Zealand, high country, sheep, shepherds and sheep dogs.

The second advert that caught my eye in the Christmas Eve edition of the Timaru Herald advertising air conditioning and telling people not to swelter in the summer heat. The maximum temperature when I read it on Boxing Day was about 14 o C and you could feel the snow and ice knifing through you as it streamed down from the Alps. I am planning to ring the company next week to see if they sold any units.

During the early 70s I lived at Mount Cook and one of my daughters asked me what was my most enjoyable climb. " The South Face of Mt.Douglas at the head of the Fox neve. Anita, that climb had everything. Steep, at the edge of my limits and a lovely route out to Mount Cook over the maion divide," I told her.


The South Face of Douglas. The red line is a recent route called the Albertown direct. We started on the next gulley to the left and when we reached the ridge in the centre,took the left hand couloiur to the top.

I climbed it with Aat Vervoorn, Jim Strang, Colin Dodge and Etienne Kummer one weekend in early January 1973. It was a steep exhilirating climb and was capped off by a quick crossing of the main divide the following day from Pioneer Hut, Pioneer Pass, down the Freshfield Glacier to Ball Hut.



Colin Dodge leading a steep pitch on the South Face of Mt. Douglas. Colin is attired in pink woolen long underwear with a pair of shorts to cover the open fly. Photo: Bob McKerrow



Middle photo: Our party at Ball Hut carpark after the climb. ( l to r) Jim Strang, Colin Dodge, Ettienne Kummer and Aat Vervoorn leaning on an old Oldsmobile. VW and old roomy cars from the 30s were common transport.

Bottom Photo: Aat Vervoorn and Etienne Kummer having a break on Pioneer Pass, connecting west to east. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Auld lang syne

Steve Masty and I spent the year of 1994 in Afghanistan together midst death and destruction. We saw in the New Year of 1995 together and celebrated with a bottle of cheap Russian vodka and sang Auld Lang Syne. How long ago that seems. Steve. J. Masty is a communication advisor based in London . His Time Machine column runs in The Washington Examiner each Wednesday. Steve was a former speech wrioter for Ronald Reegan and has a PhD in Scottish Literature.

Therefore with New Year coming up, I thought this poem from Steve good for New Year. The photo above is the eccentric Steve, with brollie and hat, reading The Times in Istanbul.

Happy New Year.

Bob


Should auld expenses be forgot
An’ never brought tae mind?
Should former bailouts be forgot
An’ chits the bankers signed?
(Chorus)
For auld lang syne, my dear,
It’s oot o’sight an’mind,
Let’s aw’ forget tha’ massive debt
An’ ignore tha’ bottom line.

When came tha’ day they said they’d pay,
They formed a lengthie line,
Where each did joke that ‘e was broke
An’ needed much more time.

Our leaders, daft, will issue drafts
When ‘ere a rich man whines,
While you, poor sot, will pay the lot
Until the end o’time.
(Robert ‘Third Degree’ Burns)

When Congresspersons mention ‘bailout’
Plutocrats gets the pail out
For they know – everything goes.
The money you
Tucked away
For a rainy day
Tomorrow goes
To some CEOs
Who compound the joke,
Blow it all on coke,
And pricey, uptown hos.
They’re on the beach,
We met their deadline
As you, freezing in the breadline,
Pick your nose – everything goes.
(‘Bituminous Coal’ Porter)

José, can you see
By the dawn’s early light,
We made it to Texas
By tunneling all night.
(Francis Scott Off-Key)


Once I built a hedge-fund
Then it failed out-
Right. Bloomberg called me a swine.
But a pal in Congress
Got me bailed out.
Buddy, I got your last dime.

Once I was a broker,
Had it all, son --
Steaks were never sub-prime.
Thank God for a joker,
Name of Paulson:
Buddy, I got your last dime.
(J.P.M. Organ-Chase)

Half a point, half a point,
Half a point downward,
Into the jaws of death,
Rode the S&P 500;

Set aside sense and dread,
Hail to the noble Fed!
Hear what Bernanke said –
Nothing’s been plundered.

Slash interest rates and get
Deeper than deepest debt,
Spend ever more, but yet
Prices get sundered.

Then start the printing press
Just to inflate the mess
Worse than you feared to guess,
Our days are numbered.

Hail to the Fed Brigade!
Decades-long mess it made,
And turned to marmalade,
The S&P 500.
(Alfred, Lord Elevenson)




Peace be with you


As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated.

During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.

It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago.

At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited.

I was the guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation.

The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face .. and I wanted to be with them and share their table.

In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner.

They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time.

To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" as if the party were in his honor!

At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know no-one hugged me.

Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one?

I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left.

Every year it gets worse. People only remember the gifts, the parties, to eat and drink, and nobody remembers me.

I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life.

I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you.

Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart.

I want to share something with you. As many didn't invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I'm still making the final arrangements..

Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book.

Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party.

Those who don't answer the invite, will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.

See you soon. I Love you!

Jesus

Thursday, 18 December 2008

INDIA. Why not ?



I lived in India for more than 10 years and struggled to find the meaning of that quaint Indian expression, Why not ? So I decided to write a poem about Why Not ?
If you can help me, I would appreciate your comments.

Why Not

Is it an expression of surprise?
Or non commitment of the wise
After 10 years in India hot
I am still searching for the meaning of WHY NOT.

There is yes and there is no
But who wants to be nailed to the spot
Safer to nod and sway your head
Smile or grin and say WHY NOT

Can I get a ticket on the 2.40 or 5 pm train ?
I’ve made the stationmaster an uncomfortable sot
So why lose your face with a trivial request
He examines the timetable and says WHY NOT

It can be a little of dis a little bit of dat
Planned nebulousity or ‘hard is my lot’
Grin and bear and shrug it off
Better to smile and say WHY NOT

Under the colonial yoke since yore
And bowing to hundreds of wiley despots
Better to keep your head and pride
So when questioned just say WHY NOT

Collapsed one day on a Calcutta street
From Delhi belly and Bombay trots
I asked the doctor “Will I be cured”
He smiled professionally and said WHY NOT

Why Not and Isn’t it have got on my nerves
And I am convinced it is a sinister plot
Asked a friend from the intelligence service
‘Am I right’ I said, he replied ‘WHY NOT ‘

Some nights when wending a weary path
I drop into my local for a jug or a tot
I ask the waiter “Will India win”
He glances at the TV and says WHY NOT

Incredible India pulls you to her breast
Where the food and climate are equally hot
So many questions and answers you need
The one that will never let you down, is WHY NOT

Concentrated research I did for years on end
Questioning people for the meaning of its lot
Now I am none the wiser for my time
For when I asked positive or negative, I got WHY NOT

After years of tears frustration and all
I am beginning to fathom the reply of WHY NOT
So I phrase questions to avoid the phrase
And instead I get an equally frustrating “Is it Not ?

So after travelling in search of the truth
I discovered the master in the valley of Swat
Enlightened Sir ‘give me the meaning of life’
He mediated long and wisely said, WHY NOT


c. Bob McKerrow



Update: I got this photo and message from Simon Nathan who discovered a Why Not cafe in New Zealand.




Hi Bob
Enjoyed your "Why Not" poem - Joanna said that it was very evocative of India. We were passing through Kaikoura yesterday, and saw the "Why Not" cafe. Perhaps there are some Indians there (although the menu looked distinctly kiwi).
best wishes
Simon N

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Advice from Nobel Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari


Martti Ahtisaari

In an era where politicians, sportspeople, economic woes and murderers grab the headlines, it is a pleasant change to see a humanitarian getting some media coverage. Humanitarian role models are few and it is so refreshing to see Martti Ahtisaari, the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari urging President-elect Barack Obama to start his term by giving "high priority" to the Mideast conflict, calling it the world's most challenging peace-building project.

The Finnish diplomat and mediator also warned that the global financial crisis would strike hard at the developing world, and he called on governments to not cut back on foreign aid.

Ahtisaari received this year's coveted Nobel Prize for his three decades of peace work around the globe including in Namibia, Kosovo and Indonesia. He served as Finland's president from 1994 until declining re-election in 2000, when he left politics and founded his Crisis Management Initiative, a peace mediation institute.

In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony in Oslo, Ahtisaari insisted that "all conflicts can be settled" and that the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not need to rage indefinitely.
"We simply cannot go on, year after year, simply pretending to do something to help the situation in the Middle East. We must also get results," Ahtisaari said.

"I do hope that the new president of the United States, who will be sworn in next month, will give high priority to the Middle East conflict during his first year in the office," he said.

Ahtisaari has not sought a role to mediate in the Middle East, and said the process was already in good hands with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair mediating.

In an interview with The Associated Press before the award ceremony, he criticized world leaders for not doing enough to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The international community and those in power are sitting there letting them destroy each other, and they are allowing both parties to make their lives in the future even more complicated and difficult than it is today," he said.

In his acceptance speech, the skilled and dogged negotiator said religions are peace-loving and can be a constructive force in solving conflicts. He said that also applies to Mideast peace efforts, which he called "the most challenging peace-building project ahead of us."

By selecting Ahtisaari for the prize, the Nobel committee returned its focus to traditional peace work after tapping climate campaigner Al Gore and the UN panel on climate change last year.

"His efforts have been untiring, and he has achieved good results," committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said of Ahtisaari.

Ahtisaari was a senior Finnish diplomat when in 1977 he was named the UN envoy for Namibia, where guerrillas were battling South African apartheid rule. He later became undersecretary-general, and in 1988 was dispatched to Namibia to lead 8,000 UN peacekeepers during its transition to independence.

After serving as Finnish president in 1994-2000, he returned to peace efforts in Kosovo and in Indonesia, where he negotiated a 2005 peace deal between the government and Aceh rebels.

Ahtisaari warned that the financial crisis could prove "another major setback" for poor countries already hit hard by climate change, rising food prices and declining levels of foreign trade.

"A reduction in foreign assistance and investment would be disastrous for badly needed economic growth," he said. "I call on all governments to remain committed to their stated goals of eradicating poverty."

The peace prize ceremony was in Oslo, while the Nobel awards in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics were presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, in line with the 1895 will of prize founder Alfred Nobel.

Man's fight to live after brother dies


Australian climber Miles Vinar is lifted off Mount Cook by helicopter. His brother, Mark, is missing on the mountain and presumed dead Photo NZPA. Zurbriggen's ridge is the prominent rock ridge starting at the botton of the picture and slightly left of centre and runs almost to the summit.

I just want to put this recent incident on Mount Cook on record. I have reports of accidfents going back to 1913 in my collection.

Lying in an ice cave high on Mount Cook, Australian climber Miles Vinar thought he would die like the brother he had watched fall to his death hours before.

Instead, Vinar, 42, was plucked from the mountain by helicopter on Saturday morning after spending two harrowing nights digging himself out of snow drifts that threatened to entomb him on the mountain.

Police and Department of Conservation staff praised the climber, saying he should be commended as a survivor rather than pitied as a victim.

Vinar's brother, Mark, 43, a doctor from Perth, fell from the mountain on Thursday as the pair were attempting to climb down the treacherous Zurbriggens Ridge after bad weather forced them back from a summit attempt.

Japanese climber Kiyoshi Ikenouchi died on the mountain a week earlier, but his friend and climbing companion, Hideaki Nara, survived.

Senior Constable Les Andrew said the Australians' accident happened when climbing down a small shelf.

Andrew said Miles Vinar made it down but could only watch as Mark Vinar lost his grip with his ice axes and tumbled backwards off the shelf.

Vinar yesterday told an Australian news programme he called out to his brother, hoping he had not fallen far.

"I was actually crying out to him `are you OK?', because I didn't see him reappear," he said.

"My hopes were he'd just fallen a couple of metres and had disappeared down there and he'd be OK.

"Then I just saw his body continue down the snow slope, which is extremely steep, and he was just tumbling and finally disappeared out of view."

Mark Vinar was thought to have fallen about 500m to the base, which had many crevasses.

The search for him was called off on Saturday as the area was considered an avalanche risk.

Andrew said Miles Vinar climbed down but a "pretty huge blood trail" convinced him there was no chance of his brother surviving.

DOC chief park ranger Richard McNamara said Miles Vinar was forced to dig a snow cave as the weather closed in.

The tent and the stove had fallen with his brother.

Vinar "worked for two days" digging away snow drifts that were blocking the cave, McNamara said.

"I wouldn't call him a victim, I'd call him a survivor," he said.

"On Thursday night, actually, I was expecting to die that night," Vinar told Australian television news.

"It was just a continual flow of snow coming down your face ... It was a continual battle just to keep clearing it all the time."

Vinar said he was not hungry but he forced himself to eat a little.

He signalled another group of climbers with his helmet light.

Vinar said Mount Cook was a fitting resting place for his generous and courageous brother.

"I couldn't think of a better place for him, to be part of the mountains he loved so much and he will become part of it, I suppose," he said.

McNamara said the climbers were experienced and well-equipped but accidents occurred regularly in the park.

DOC responded to 20 to 30 incidents per year, mostly from December to March, and there were normally one to three deaths a year, he said.

Thanks to Christchurch Press for permission to use this article.





Saturday, 13 December 2008

From blog to BBQ, Icebreaker to Antarctica


Front row l to r: Bob Headland, Robin Judkins and Bob McKerrow. Back row: Ed Cotter, Suzanne and Phil Ryder, Tara Kloss and Colin Monteath Photo: Robb Kloss

We had a rip-roaring barbecue last night with new friends I have met via the blog, and I invited my old friends who I have met through climbing and Antarctica. New friends Robb and Tara Kloss flew down to Christchurch for a five day holiday, Jamie drove down from Arthur's Pass where he runs an outdoor centre, so we have had an opportunity to talk about mountains, communications and blogs.

It is almost four weeks since I had total knee replacements in both knee and my recovery is well underway, so it was an opportunity to celebrate my new found health.

http://ruahineramblings.blogspot.com/ and Jamie Stewart, http://pennyandjamie.blogspot.com/


Bob McKerrow, Robb Kloss and Ed Cotter.


Robin Judkins, artist and Mr. Coast to Coast, Ed Cotter who climbed with Ed Hillary before he climbed Mt. Everest, Colin and Betty Monteath, owners of the world's largest outdoor photographic library, Colin and Betty brought Bob Headland who had just arrived in Lyttleton aboard a Russian icebreaker heading for Antarctica. He had a 24 hour stopover and made the most of a good supply of Red Wine I had got for the evening.

Bob Headland is a Senior Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. His principal interest is historical geography, specifically concerning human effects on polar regions. Bob is an adviser to several expeditionary organizations, departments of government, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a member of the Institute for Historical Research of the University of London.


Bob Headland (left) and me, Bob McKerrow (right)


His published works include books and numerous articles on his specializations. In 1984, he was decorated with the Polar Medal and is a member of both the Arctic Club and the Antarctic Club. Robert has written many books and wrote the classic, Chronology Of Antarctic Exploration and The Island of South Georgia.

So it was a grand gathering with my daughters Aroha and Ruia helping with the food, and Gavin making a splendid BBQ. As I post this, Bob Headland's Russian Icebreaker is leaving Lyttleton for the Antarctic. Celebrations are an important part of my life.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Australian climber presumed dead on Mount Cook Aoraki

LATEST: An Australian climber missing and presumed dead in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is thought to have fallen around 500 metres.


The two brothers were reported overdue by fellow climbers yesterday, but weather conditions meant the DOC Alpine Search team was unable to be flown to the Zurbriggens Ridge of Aoraki Mt Cook until shortly after 5am today.

Department of Conservation spokesperson Shirley Slatter said the team quickly located Miles Vinar aged 42, from Perth.

Mr Vinar told rescuers his brother, Dr Mark Vinar, 43, also from Perth, had fallen on Thursday morning, and he lost sight of him.

He is presumed dead after falling an estimated 500 metres to the base of Zurbriggens Ridge.

Police say the area is crevassed and there is a considerable avalanche danger. The area can only be searched by air due to the dangers the site poses.

As snow has fallen in the area in recent days, the search has been called off for Dr Vinar, but DOC staff will check the area in the coming months.

Mrs Slatter said the surviving climber had been found quickly as climbing guides had reported seeing a light on Zurbriggens Ridge at 4.30am and it turned out to be Mr Vinar's torch.

Mr Vinar was unhurt and he was stropped out from the site by helicopter.

Dr Vinar is the ninth person to die on Zurbriggens Ridge, and the 70th on Aoraki Mt Cook since 1907.

Thirty four Australian climbers have died in the National Park, with 18 on Aoraki Mt Cook.

It is the second death on the mountain in seven days.

Japanese climbing guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi died, while his friend and climbing companion Hideaki Nara was rescued after being stranded on the mountain for a week.




It appears another tragedy is unfolding on Mt. Cook as only one of the two missing climbers have come out alive.
LATEST from NZPA: One of two Australian climbers missing on Aoraki/Mt Cook has been found uninjured and rescued.
The man was seen coming down the mountain about 6am, Constable Les Andrew said.
He was picked up by a helicopter and flown to Plateau Hut.
Police were this morning interviewing him to find out where his partner was, Mr Andrew said.
The rescued climber has reported to police that the two had bivvied high on Zurbriggens Ridge on Wednesday night, and on Thursday they decided that due to conditions they would descend back to Plateau Hut via the ridge.
Soon after setting off, one climber fell and disappeared from view, police say.
The two middle-aged men were flown to Plateau Hut last Saturday with plans to climb the mountain via Zurbriggens route at 1am on Wednesday.
Other climbers saw their lights at 11.30pm on Wednesday night, high up on the ridge, but they had not been seen since and the weather had been unsettled.
Earlier this month two Japanese climbers were stranded on the mountain for a week.
Climbing guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi died, while his friend and climbing companion Hideaki Nara was rescued.
- NZPA

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Winter Games, New Zealand 2009

Skiing champion Annelise Coberger was the first New Zealander to achieve international fame in the sport. At the height of her career she won a silver medal in the slalom event at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games. Here she is competing in the World Cup slalom, in Italy in 1993. Hopefully, the Winter Games to be held in New Zealand in Aug-Sept. 2009, will give up and coming NZ winter sportspeople a chance to make a bid for the next winter Olympics.



Queenstown with the Remarkables in the background, one of the key sites for the 2009 Winter Games.



I saw Arthur Klap on TV the other day speaking in his capacity as one of the organisers of the Winter Games to be held in the mountain areas of Otago and Southland next year. I met Arthur in the late 70's in Chamonix, France, where he and his partner Lynn were into free style skiing. Arthur has been out front in New Zealand as an event organiser for decades. As a teenager I criss-crossed the mountain ranges where these events will be held I recall doing a winter ascent of the Remarkables in 1967 and thinking, " Wow, this would make a brilliant ski field. "I skied a lot on Coronet Peak, skated at Naseby in winter, tramped the hills and mountains round Lake Wanaka. I recall looking down with Rod McLeod from the summit of Mt. Aspiring in early 1968, across the mountains of Otago and Southland. I am so proud such a prestigopus event is being held in New Zealand.


The largest winter sports event outside of the Winter Olympics, Winter Games NZ is a unique winter sports competition that provides the world’s elite winter sports athletes with the ultimate testing ground where they can experiment and explore performance limits against world class competition.Every four years, the Games will act as a direct lead-up to the Winter Olympics providing athletes with an invaluable training opportunity. The first Winter Games NZ will take place at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Naseby and Dunedin from August 28 to September 6 2009 and will feature disciplines of alpine skiing, free skiing, x-country skiing, snowboarding, curling, ice skating and adaptive snow sports.
Fri 28 Aug 09 - Sun 06 Sep 09, every day,

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Afghan refugee murder grieves me, sickens me


Last Saturday morning I felt so sick when I read the headlines in the Christchurch Press that a Taxi driver was murdered early that morning. When I read on and found out that he was a refugee from Afghanistan whose Hazara tribe, the Taliban had tried to wipe out, This was genocide of the worst possibnle kind. Abdhurahman Ikhtiari was a 39 year old father of five young children. I worked in Afghanistan for many years and know the Hazara tribe, who are descendents of Genghis Khan. They are fine, hardworking people. My most trustworthy friend in Afghanistan was an Hazara, Moheb, who saved my life countless times, by predicting where fighting was likely to break out, thus avoiding dangerous predicaments. He, like Abdhuerahman, was a driver.

The bloody circumstances he escaped from in Afghanistan and the long and controversial boat journey that eventually brought him to New Zealand, is a remarkable epic of human fortitude and hope. New Zealand opened its arms to him. To the two young men who murdered him, I ask them to think it through. To be persecuted in your own country and see your familiy and neighbours butchered, to survive a long boat journey not knowing where you might end up, to bring your six family members up with dignity, to drive a taxi tobring money home and learn English in the little spare time you have. You guys murdered someone who has been to hell and back. What was in your minds ? I would like to come and talk to you and teach you about Afghanistan and their wonderful people. I know you can earn forgiveness. But do you have foregiveness in you ?

Ikhtiari was among 141 refugees accepted by New Zealand from the Norwegian freighter Tampa.
The Tampa became the centre of international controversy in August 2001 when its captain picked up 430 asylum seekers from a sinking boat off the coast of Australia.
The Australian government refused to let the refugees land and they were sent to Nauru instead.
A family friend and fellow taxi driver Baryalai Waziri told the Sunday Star-Times Ikhtiari arrived in May 2002 and had spent a month in the refugee resettlement camp in Mangere, Auckland, before moving to Christchurch with his family.
They had fled Afghanistan because they were members of the Hazari ethnic minority persecuted under the Taliban regime.
Ikhtiari had spent the first couple of years in Christchurch studying English and doing part-time factory work to support his wife and five children, aged seven to 16.
About a year ago he had started driving cabs at night for United Taxis.
He often felt intimidated by drunken and aggressive customers.
Ikhtiari's cousin, Mohammad Ikhtiari, said his family was distraught at the senseless killing.
Ikhtiari's wife and sister had not stopped crying since being informed of his death.
He is angry that police appeared to have ignored previous complaints about the behaviour Afghani taxi drivers in Christchurch are subjected to.
Liz Smyth, who has close ties with Christchurch's Afghani community, said many of the men worked as taxi drivers despite having good qualifications because they needed immediate work so they could support their families.
They worked long hours and often opted to drive at night because they could earn more money.
One Afghani taxi driver had been threatened with a screwdriver, another had had passengers refuse to get in his car when they discovered his nationality.

"A lot of the abuse is based on ignorance," Smyth said.
"These people are very vulnerable and there needs to be a bit more protection really."
Ikhtiari is the second Tampa refugee who settled in Canterbury to die in tragic circumstances.
Rahmatullah Qambari, 23, drowned in the Waimakariri River, north of Christchurch, on January 02, 2004.

The initial report said:


Abdulrahman Ikhtiari, 39 was found lying near his taxi with a single stab wound to his chest about 1am yesterday.
Police and ambulance staff tried frantically to save him but he died at the scene.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Johnson said witnesses reported seeing two men running from Ikhtiari's taxi immediately after the stabbing.
Johnson said it did not appear that robbery was the motive for the attack but would not speculate whether the stabbing was racially motivated.
Ikhtiari had wounds on his body that could be defensive.
"This man... is going about his lawful business, operating a taxi and he's been tragically attacked by two assailants which has caused his death.
" The men, believed to be Ikhtiari's passengers, were heading east towards Fitzgerald Ave.
They were both about 1.8m, with dark skin and short dark hair.
One was wearing a dark top and trousers and a white bandana or cap, the other was wearing a white top and dark trousers. No calls for help were made on Mr Ikhtiari's car radio, Radio New Zealand reported.



Yesterday, Tuesday 9 December. A 16-year-old wiped away tears as he appeared in Christchurch Youth Court today charged with the murder of Abdulrahaman Ikhtiari.He is jointly charged with a 19-year-old, both of whom have name suppression, with killing the taxi driver on December 6.In a brief appearance before Judge Jane McMeeken, the 16-year-old did not seek bail and will have to spend a night in police cells before a bed will become available in a youth justice facility.The teenager had a number of supporters in the public gallery and several called out to him as he was led away after his appearance, one person shouting "I love you".The 19-year-old also made a brief appearance in the district court and stood impassively in the dock.He also did not seek bail and his name was suppressed until 5pm tomorrow to enable his lawyer Kerry Cook to explore whether there are grounds for extending the name suppression.As the 19-year-old was led from the court a supporter from the public gallery yelled to him "love you, bro".Both teenagers are due to reappear in court on December 23.Last night Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Johnson of Canterbury CIB said police had interviewed the pair after executing search warrants in the Christchurch area which obtained "a number of items of interest to the investigation"."The weapon used in the attack on Mr Ikhtiari, which we believe to have a blade of at least 140mm long and 20mm wide, is still outstanding," Mr Johnson said."Despite the arrest of these two males I still appeal to members of the public who have any information about this crime to contact police."Police yesterday worked to enhance dark and distant images from crime camera footage which appear to show two people leaving the scene where Mr Ikhtiari was stabbed to death in Christchurch early on Saturday morning.The footage shows Mr Ikhtiari's United Taxi Co cab arriving at the area in Worcester Street, near the Barbadoes Street corner, and it is stopped there for a few minutes before the people are seen leaving.The images appeared to show two people, Mr Johnson said."It is very dark, at a distance, and there are some lighting issues. We are working with it, and we may be able to develop it further to see if we can see more detail," he told a press conference at the Christchurch Central Police Station.



Yesterday I discovered Ikhtiari's family lives close to me in the Christchurch suburb of Bryndwr. Last night the principle of a local school spoke so warmly about Ikhtiari application to learning English in day classes.

I travelled to 33 of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan during four years I worked in the country. Even during the most ferocious conflict, I was treated with utmost repect by both sides. People gave their last crust of bread to me, sheltered me and made sure I got to the next village safely. It was a country of honour. I weep for an answer. Thank God the people of Christchurch are giving generously to support his family.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Japanese climber Hadeaki Nara speaks of his six-day ordeal trapped near the summit of Mount Cook.

For those of us involved in some way with this tragic death on Mount Cook late last week, closure has been reached. The Christchurch Press ran a front page article this morning which is mainly an interview with rescued climber Hideaki Nara. Here is his story.

For hours, Japanese climber Hideaki Nara huddled in the snow, desperately digging an ice cave with a pen and small knife as icy winds blasted across Mount Cook.
The lone survivor of the six-day ordeal on New Zealand's highest mountain yesterday told his story in Christchurch, including his discovery that his friend, Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, had died only hours before a rescue.
Nara, 51, and Ikenouchi, 49, were trapped about 3700m up the mountain in bad weather last week. Rescuers made the most of a brief break in the severe conditions to fly a helicopter to the men early on Friday.
It was only when Nara went to tell Ikenouchi that they were saved that he realised his friend had succumbed to the freezing temperatures. The two men had spoken during the night.
High winds on Friday morning gave Nara little hope of being rescued that day, so when a helicopter appeared he felt "very lucky".
Nara said a massive snowfall buried their tent on Thursday.
"When it collapsed, Ikenouchi was in the tent and he was trying to escape from the tent and bring his stuff with him, but he could only bring his sleeping bag, not his tramping boots," Nara said via an interpreter.
He said Ikenouchi had a sore back from being cramped up in the tiny tent for so long and had opted to stretch out in his sleeping bag rather than share the small ice cave Nara had created.
"On the last day there weren't many words between us; only one or two maybe, trying to encourage each other, but I had to think about myself as well. I really told myself to fight this difficult situation. I tried to move my hands and toes. I did whatever I could think of to keep me going," Nara said.
"I thought about my family and people that know me; if I died here that would have a big impact on them. I didn't want that to happen."
A helicopter managed to drop emergency supplies and a radio to the climbers last week, but it was never recovered. Nara said the pair had heard something hit the tent, but thought it was falling ice.
He did not know why he had survived, while his friend died.
"I don't know what was the crucial thing that made our lives so different. The only thing I know is that I was curling up inside the snow cave and Ikenouchi was in the sleeping bag outside," Nara said.
"Because I didn't have a sleeping bag, I knew it was important for me to stay in the cave, because it was very cold outside. It was an awkward position, but I knew that's what I had to do."
Nara attended Ikenouchi's funeral in Christchurch yesterday, along with the 49-year-old climber's wife, mother and friends who flew in from Japan.
"While I was in hospital I couldn't feel what happened was real, but today I saw him at the funeral and finally what happened sank in. Really, there's no words to describe how I feel, but I felt I had a big hole inside me a feeling of loss."
Nara said he had known Ikenouchi for 15 years and they had climbed many mountains together in Japan.
"I haven't decided whether to climb again. I wanted to go back to Mount Cook if Ikenouchi was alive to try again with him, but now he has passed away, so I'm thinking about my mountain-climbing future."




Sunday, 7 December 2008

Is it safe ? Is it politic ? Is it popular ? Is it right ?



"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." Martin Luther King, Jr.



I got came back to New Zealand just over three weeks ago to get total knee replacements of both knees. As I go down the long path of recovery, for the first time in many years, I have time to listen to the radio, read newspapers and magazines from cover to cover, and choose from 100 satellite TV channels. There is a lot of negative stuff going on out there. Look at the rioting in Greece, terrorism in Mumbai, the ongoing slaughter in Afghanistan and Iraq, the cholera in Zimbabwe, violence in Dafur, and in my own backyard, the brutal killing of Abdulrahman Ikhtiara, a taxi driver who came to New Zealand as a refugee from Afghanistan. The 39 year old father of five.
More than ever in my lifetime, we need global leadership to pull us out of a moral and economic mire.

This morning Martin Luther King Jnr words posted above, kept swirling in my mind and these words remain, to implore our emerging leaders to act in accord with Luther's words of wisdom ' "there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."

Barack Obama is slowly bringing together a group of leaders around him and heads are turning from every corner of the globe towards him. I try to look beyond "the whine and thump of NZ parish pump politics" but fail to see leadership here. A Government's first priority is the safety of its people and the feeble way our Government responded, or didn't respond, to hundreds of New Zealanders trapped in Thailand a few weeks back, doesn't auger well.




Friday, 5 December 2008

Why do you get so involved ? Aoraki Mount Cook.

Late December 1967. My first ascent of Mount Malte Brun. Mount Cook/Aoraki in the background. I climbed Aoaki Mt. Cook for the first time on Christmas Day, 1968.

The cover of my book on Ebenezer Teichelmann, which in many respects, is the history of climbing in the New Zealand Alps from 1897 to 1938. Teichelmann took this wonderful photo of the East Face of Mount Cook with the summit ridge of the skyline. The Japanese climbers we sheltering just below the ridge at the far left.

If you have an opinion, there will be someone out there who will agree or many who may disagree. If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. During the past week I got totally engrossed in the rescue of the two Japanese climbers stranded on Mt. Cook Aoraki. An old climbing friend phoned me and said, " Are you the watchdog for NZ mountaineering ? "

I simply replied "when you have been climbing, writing and photographing for over 40 years, and tred many times the ridge the climbers are stranded on, I feel I have an opinion to offer that may be of use." I felt I didn't need to add more, but thought, I was the first person together with Glacier Helicopter pilot Colin Tuck, to fly in less than an hour after the summit fell of the high peak of Mount Cook on December 14, 1991. We flew the summit ridge and saw the miussing summit scattered from the summit of Aoraki across the valley floor to 3,000 metres on the other side of the Tasman Glacier. I was running the Westland National Park out of Franz Josef. I have never felt so insignificant in my life seeing the fury of one mountain's energy, Aoraki. It was at that moment I realised the meaning of Tapu or Wairua Tapu. Maori mountaineers from Brice Bay, Tai Poutini, knew the summit of Aoraki was Tapu and would not set foot on it. When they were with guided parties they would deliberately, but quietly, avoid putting a foot on the true summit. The summit is the head. You never put foot on the head for the head is Tapu.

Between 1990 and 1993 I did considerable research on the subject of Maori Mountaineers in New Zealand. The amazing discovery I made was that one small community in South Westland,New Zealand, in Heretaniwha (Bruce Bay), Hunts Beach, Mahitahi and Jacobs River, together made a huge contribution to New Zealand mountain exploration. I published this in the 1993 New Zealand Alpine Journal and can be accessed on this blog :Between 1990 and 1993 I did considerable research on the subject of Maori Mountaineers in New Zealand. The amazing discovery I made was that one small community in South Westland,New Zealand, in Heretaniwha (Bruce Bay), Hunts Beach, Mahitahi and Jacobs River, together made a huge contribution to New Zealand mountain exploration. I published this in the 1993 New Zealand Alpine Journal. and it is available on this blog. Click below. http://bobmckerrow.blogspot.com/2008/03/maori-mountaineers-of-south-westland.html

Then there were those memorable three days in 1973 when Aat Vervoorn and I guided Vern Leader on a grand traverse of Mt. Cook Aoraki. Vern was 64 and it was the last great climb he wanted to do before he hung his ice axe up. This was also the last guided climb done by the Mt. Cook National Park.

Next to come flooding back, was another Christmas Day climb, in 1971, with Chris Timms by the East Ridge of Aoraki.

I suppose one doesn't have to defend ones thesis but rather to explain where the passion and understaning comes from for a mountain. For some, a mountain is a dead inanimate thing, for me mountains have a personality, a beauty, a Wairua Tapu but always alive with a death that sings. The mountains song is enchanting, fit for mountan Kings, first its high, then its low, lachromoso from the strings.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Latest Update. Climbers did not know about survival pack !!

The Japanese climbers stranded for days in horrific conditions on Mt Cook, with one perishing overnight, did not know a survival pack had been dropped by their tent yesterday.
Japanese mountain guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, died just hours before rescuers reached him on Aoraki/Mt Cook this morning, while his companion Hideaka Nara, 51, was airlifted alive to Christchurch.
Police Inspector Dave Gaskin said rescuers confirmed this morning the pair were unaware of the supplies that had been dropped to them.
But it may not have made much of a difference in the end, as the pair were already very well equipped, he said.
"Indications are that, if anything, they were over-equipped and that may have been one of the reasons why they were very slow in the first two days of their trip."
DOC area manager Richard MacNamara said the week of waiting had been very stressful for the waiting search team.
It was "extremely hard" to know that Mr Ikenouchi died within hours of rescuers reaching him, he said.
"The only good thing to come out of it is that at least there is some closure for the family."
SEVEN DAYS IN FEROCIOUS CONDITIONS
The pair endured seven days at 3700m on the country's highest peak in ferocious weather conditions which prevented earlier rescue attempts.
Good weather this morning allowed the rescue to go ahead but rescuers found Ikenouchi, the guide on the expedition, dead on the mountain.
Nara was airlifted from the mountain and suffered frostbite to his hands and face. He was able to walk to the helicopter.
Constable Paul Swanson said Nara was talking to an interpreter but was very unwell.
Mr Ikenouchi - who helped in a rescue on the mountain five years ago - is the 69th climber known to have died on New Zealand's highest peak, and the seventh Japanese.
Ikenouchi and Nara are understood to have lost their tent on Wednesday and may have lost a sleeping bag as well, leaving only one between them.
The pair were in contact during the night but lost verbal communication about 1am.
But when daylight and a rescue helicopter arrived this morning, Ikenouchi was discovered dead.
The men spent last night in the open as their tent either became buried in snow or blew away, said Gaskin.
The pair were attempting Mt Cook's Grand Traverse, climbing from the Hooker Valley to the South Peak, summiting from there, before heading down to Plateau Hut.
The slow progress meant they were caught out by a mountain storm and forced to bivouac at high altitude.
The conditions finally cleared this morning and the rescue team flew in by helicopter at 5.30am.
The position where the climbers were holed up meant a rescuer had to hang from a long rope beneath the helicopter and scoop up the climbers in separate trips.
"It's pretty perilous sort of stuff," said Gaskin.

Thanks to Stuff for latest information.


One climber survives ordeal and now in Christchurch. Second climber dead.

SURVIVOR: Japanese climber Hideaki Nara is lifted to Christchurch Hospital after being airlifted from Aoraki/Mount Cook.
The Westpac Rescue helicopter prepares to leave Aoraki/Mt Cook with Hideaki Nara bound for Christchurch Hospital this morning.

LATEST: 0900 Friday 5 December 2008

Japanese mountaineer Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, who died just hours before rescuers reached him on Aoraki/Mt Cook this morning, helped in a rescue on the mountain five years ago.
The 49-year-old from Tokyo and his companion, Hideaki Nara, 51, endured seven days at 3700m on the country's highest peak in ferocious weather conditions which prevented earlier rescue attempts.
Good weather this morning allowed the rescue to go ahead but rescuers found Ikenouchi, the guide on the expedition, dead on the mountain.
Nara was airlifted from the mountain and suffered frostbite to his hands and face. He was able to walk to the helicopter.
Constable Paul Swanson said Nara was talking to an interpreter but was very unwell.
Ikenouchi and Nara are understood to have lost their tent on Wednesday and may have had only one sleeping bag between them.
The pair were in contact during the night but lost verbal communication about 1am.
But when daylight and a rescue helicopter arrived this morning, Ikenouchi was discovered dead.
The men spent last night in the open as their tent either became buried in snow or blew away, said Inspector Dave Gaskin.
"The guy (who was rescued) was on top of the snow," he said.
After days of rescue attempts thwarted by bad weather, a helicopter was yesterday able to get close enough to drop a pack of emergency supplies and a radio to the tent site, but once again wind prevented a rescue.
The conditions finally cleared this morning and the rescue team flew in by helicopter at 5.30am.
The position where the climbers were holed up meant a rescuer had to hang from a long rope beneath the helicopter and scoop up the climbers in seperate trips.
"It's pretty perilous sort of stuff," said Gaskin. Thanks to Stuff for permission to use photographs and great undates during past 5 days..


I must say I am proud of our rescue services, helicopter pilots, DoC rescue team and staff. and the media for excellent reports. Let's not get into the blame game. We should be beyond this.


One climber rescued, one found dead

At 8 am TV One was saying two climbers have been brought out alive. However, Stuff website quoting the headline

One climber rescued, one found dead

by BECK ELEVEN at Mount Cook Village - The Press Friday, 05 December 2008
LATEST: A Japanese climber rescued from Aoraki/Mt Cook this morning is being airlifted to Christchurch Hospital with frostbite, but his companion has been found dead.
Good weather conditions saw rescuers use a helicopter to pluck one man off the mountain this morning.
The rescue is understood to have been made between 5.30am and 6.10am.
It is understood the second man died during a ferocious storm last night.
Constable Paul Swanson the climber was talking to an interpreter but was very unwell.
The men spent last night in the open as their tent either became buried in snow or blew away, said Inspector Dave Gaskin.
Mountain guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, and Hideaki Nara, 51, both from Tokyo, have spent seven freezing nights 3700 metres up the mountain after gales near the summit prevented earlier rescue attempts.

This is a tragic outcome as it would have been brilliant if the two had of come about alive.

Japanese climber no stranger to dangers

The weather everyone is wating for. A clear day to rescue the two climbers. Photo Bob McKerrow



Tomorrow must be the day, or Saturday at the latest. I was a little more encouraged about the survival of the two climbers after reading this NZPA article and listening to members of the resue team earlier this evening. Let's continue out thoughts and prayers for them.



NZPA © A Japanese mountain guide, one of two men currently trapped on Aoraki/Mt Cook, is no stranger to the perils of New Zealand mountain climbing.Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, from Tokyo and Hideaki Nara, 51, also from Tokyo, remain stranded today as rescuers wait for a break in the foul weather to attempt to pluck them to safety.
Yesterday, a helicopter managed to get close enough to drop a pack of emergency provisions and a radio to the pair, but was unable to land.
During the drop, one of the climbers emerged from their red tent and waved, easing rescue team concerns about a lack of life on the mountain.
Japanese-speaking Department of Conservation officer Karen Jackson has tried to make radio contact with the pair but there has so far been no response.
In a strange coincidence, she was Mr Ikenouchi's interpreter when he climbed Mt Aspiring in 2001.
Three years later Mr Ikenouchi was part of the rescue team that helped when two Japanese climbers were hit by an avalanche on Zurbriggen's Ridge on the mountain. One of the climbers died.
Ms Jackson recognised Mr Ikenouchi in the visitor centre last week and talked to him about his current climb.
Inspector Dave Gaskin, of Timaru, said yesterday police were not too worried by the lack of radio contact from the climbers as the pack had been dropped from 10m and could have been damaged.
Also, it had landed behind the tent and as they were not "out enjoying the view" they may not realise it was there, he said.
It was also possible the men were stranded in an area with bad reception.
Mr Gaskin said today the climbers were "pretty well off, much better than I thought they'd be".
The weather was still "wet, snowing and blowing" and the safety of the rescue crew was the main concern, he said.
Winds are still high in the rescue area where the two men have been trapped above 3700m since last week, and Mr Gaskin said it could be Saturday before the pair was rescued.
The Alpine Rescue Team is on standby to carry out the rescue whenever there is a break in the weather.
They may attempt to drop another pack tomorrow if the weather does not clear enough for the rescue.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Climbers' silence raises fears


The summit ridge of Mount Cook Aoraki where the climbers are stranded near the middle peak at a place dubbed middle peak hotel.

8.00 am. Thursday Just watched a live interview at 8.00 am with the head of the rescue team at Aoraki Mt. Cook. It raining in the village and snowing higher up. They have called off any helicopter rescue attempts for the morning. The worst scenario could be, no chance of a rescire til Saturday, when the forecast is expected to be settled.

Fears are growing for two Japanese climbers stranded on Mount Cook after the men failed to make contact. The waiting out period brings back so many memories of when I worked at Mt. Cook as a member of the Alpine rescue team in the early 70s. I remember having to wait for days to see whether Murray McPhail and Helen Irwin, trapped of the face of Mt. Sefton would survive the horrendous storm. They did, and so did Mark Ingles and Phil Doole. But there is something strange about the information when you piece it together. Rescuers have seen only one climber and they have not used the radio dropped yesterday.
Rescuers are also worried that only one of the men has been sighted.
It was also revealed that neither climber had a concession to act as a guide in the area.
A helicopter "surfed" in strong winds to drop emergency supplies yesterday but there were concerns the package may not have been recovered.
A radio was also dropped to the climbers, with instructions written in Japanese, but rescuers had heard nothing.
Department of Conservation Mount Cook area manager Richard McNamara said the rescue team today hoped to drop a second radio to the stranded mountaineers.
Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, and Hideaki Nara, 51, have been trapped 3700m up the nation's tallest peak since last week. They have pitched a tent in a crevasse dubbed Middle Peak Hotel.
McNamara said one of the men was again spotted peeking his head out from the tent as the helicopter hovered yesterday.
The same man was spotted when the helicopter first flew over the tent on Tuesday.
McNamara hoped the climbers had the fresh supplies, but could not rule out the possibility that the pack had not been picked up. "The kit landed right right beside the tent; it brushed the tent. The weather was OK the wind was pretty strong, but it wasn't as though they were blinded in a snowstorm," McNamara said.
Making contact with the men was vital.
"It certainly makes the job a lot easier if we can talk to them," McNamara said. "We've got a plan in place and we'll just carry on with that and that really is just to try and make contact one way or the other. If we get a break in the weather, it's likely we'll get another machine up."
Ikenouchi is an experienced mountaineer, having completed several winter ascents of Mount Fuji.
However, Nara has less alpine experience. It was thought Nara may be with Ikenouchi as a climbing customer.
The police area commander for Mid-South Canterbury, Inspector Dave Gaskin, said neither climber had a concession to be guiding in the area.
"That's the thought-pattern at the moment, but we can't confirm that has happened. At the moment, we're just treating it as two climbers climbing together," Gaskin said.
"Obviously, they didn't have any guiding concessions so they weren't allowed to guide in the park.
"If he is guiding, which we cannot confirm and it would be irresponsible to even suggest it, what he would be doing would be illegal guiding, and that happens all the time."
Gaskin said there could be any number of reasons for the lack of radio contact.
He could not be sure the package had reached the men.
"There may be a possibility that they haven't even got it yet and they didn't even realise that it had been dropped, but I would think you'd have a fair idea," he said.
Between 100mm and 150mm of rain was forecast for the main divide today, possibly hampering the rescue. "Bearing in mind (that) to operate at that level you need really good weather, we might not get in there until the end of Saturday." Thanks to the Ch Ch Press for the latest news.

THEY ARE ALIVE

AS I GO TO BED TONIGHT, MY PRAYERS AND THOUGHTS WILL BE GOING OUT tO KIYOSHI AND HIDEAKI. AT 10 PM TONIGHT THE WEATHER FORECAST WAS NOT GOOD AND RESCUERS SAID THE WEATHER MAY NOT BE SUITABLR FOR RESCUE UNTIL SATURDAY.
However, having worked in the 70s at Mt. Cook Aoraki in the rescue team, you can get those short breaks in the weather, long enogh to pluck people out to safety.
The two Japanese climbers stranded on Aoraki/Mt Cook have been named.
They are Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, 49, from Tokyo, the guide, and Hideaki Nara, 51, also from Tokyo.
A pack of emergency provisions and a radio were dropped to the pair this afternoon by a helicopter with Alpine Rescue team members aboard. ( SEE PHOTO LEFT)
Constable Brent Swanson said the helicopter left at 1.15pm with a pilot and two team members aboard and managed to get close enough to drop the pack but not land.
A person came out of the red tent searchers spotted yesterday and could be seen moving around.
The 70 litre pack containing emergency rations, a cooker and fuel and a radio with instructions in Japanese, landed right by the tent. Now the rescue centre is waiting for any radio messages.
A Department of Conservation officer who speaks Japanese has been calling on the radio included in the bag but there was no response.
The winds are still high in the rescue area where the two climbers have been trapped above 3700 metres since last week, and rescuers say it could be Saturday before they can reach the men.
Two helicopters searching for the pair yesterday morning spotted a red tent and a person believed to be one of the climbers waving from near the mountain's summit ridge.
However, they were unable to make a rescue because of the high winds and near zero visibility.
The two men, in their 40s, were due back at Mt Cook Village on Saturday. They were last seen on Friday when they were on the upper Empress Plateau.
Rescuers had hoped for a gap in the bad weather today to allow them to reach the men.
However, high winds were preventing helicopters from reaching the required level, Department of Labour spokeswoman Shirley Slatter said.
"We'd been watching it all night actually, but it was still too windy during the night. They (the helicopter crew) gave it a go at first light but they didn't get that close."
Ms Slatter said there was a slim chance the weather would calm down tomorrow evening, but it was more likely to be Friday or even Saturday before a helicopter could get in.
She said the situation would continue to be closely monitored and a rescue mission would be launched as soon as it was safe.
"They have a tent, they've got good gear and we know they have good sleeping bags."
It is thought the second climber may have been still inside the tent when searchers passed by yesterday.
"You can make all those presumptions, but at this stage we don't actually know," said police constable Stu Mori yesterday.
"He may be ill, he may be injured. He may not have had enough time to get his boots on and get out [of the tent]."
Mr Mori said one of the climbers was known to be experienced - having climbed Mt Cook and other mountains around the world. It is not known if the second climber is experienced.
Mt Cook guide Trev Streat said the pair could be reasonably comfortable because it had not been excessively cold over the last few days, but it would depend on how they were equipped.
"If they have got dry sleeping bags and good shelter they should be able to sit out a few days in a storm."
Rather than staying in the tent - exposed to the high winds - "a snow cave or hiding out in a crevasse is probably a better idea".
Mr Mori said the extent of the pair's supplies was unclear.
"We don't know what food and rations [they have], we don't know the medical conditions. It's an unknown factor at this stage."
It was presumed the pair had been on the mountain since Friday.
"Every trip is different. But all climbers are prepared to spend a night out, or two or three nights out, because ... that is the nature of the beast with our changeable weatherR

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Will two Japanese climbers survive after Mt. Cook Aoraki epic ?

On the upper secion of the east ridge of Mt. Cook Aoraki not far from the summit ridge where the Japanese climbers are trapped. Climber is Chris Timms. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Japanese climbers have pitched a tent in the same area on Mount Cook in which two New Zealand climbers were stranded for 14 days, known as the Middle Peak Hotel schrund.
My prayers and thoughts are going out to the two Japanese mountaineers caught in an eerie repeat of the high-altitude drama on Mount Cook that cost Kiwi climber Mark Inglis his legs.
The climbers, aged in their 40s, remain trapped in the same spot on the country's highest peak where Inglis and Philip Doole were stranded in November 1982. Inglis and Doole miraculously survived for 14 days, wedged in a crevasse.
Inglis' frostbitten legs were later amputated below the knee. I got to know Phil well when we both worked for DoC soI know his story well.

On Christmas day 1971 I climbed the East Ridge of Mt. Cook with Chris Timms and when we hit the summit ridge we got caught in the most horrific blizzaed condition. It was either dig in, die or try to descend into the Hooker Valley. Neither of us knew this route so we took the gamble and almost lost our lives getting to Empress Hut. But like Ingles and Doole we survived.


One of the Japanese men was spotted outside his tent on the Middle Peak summit by a helicopter crew yesterday morning, but the winds were too strong for a rescue.
Inglis said the pair could be battling an even tougher predicament than what he had faced.
"We only came in to the storm when we got out on the summit ridge," Inglis said. "They were climbing from the west so they've actually been in the brunt of the storm. They were actually climbing up in the storm, where we were trying to climb down."
The Japanese climbers face another two days of cold, wet weather on the exposed southern ridge as rescuers wait for better weather. The area was dubbed Middle Peak Hotel after Inglis and Doole's two-week stay.
By yesterday, the Japanese climbers had spent at least five days 3700m up the mountain after failing to return to Mount Cook Village on Saturday.
They set out for the summit last week and were seen on the upper Empress Plateau on Friday.
After studying a photo of the climbers' tent site, Inglis said the men seemed to be "tucked away enough out of the wind".
"It sure looks like Middle Peak Hotel. Good luck to the guys up there, I hope they have plenty of resources and experience to come through it in a good condition," Inglis said.
"It's going to be very, very cold and it comes down to the equipment you have got. If you have got good equipment you have an advantage, but the longer it goes on the more resources you use."
Police area commander for Mid-South Canterbury, Inspector Dave Gaskin, said one of the men was spotted by a helicopter crew just before 8am yesterday waving from outside a tent.
"It was too windy to attempt to get to the scene at that moment. The plan was to drop a bag with a radio and some supplies to them," he said.
However, the weather had "bombed out" shortly after the sighting and made it impossible to drop the supplies.
"Landing was totally impossible. It's impossible even to hover in those conditions," Gaskin said.
A poor weather forecast could mean the men would have to wait until tomorrow night or Friday morning to be rescued.
"It's still a concern that they are up there because they are in an exposed area, but they are a lot better off than they could be. They've got good gear and they are reasonably well-equipped," Gaskin said.
The Japanese consul to New Zealand, Shoichi Kawai, said the two men hailed from Tokyo.
He would not reveal their names but said he had personally been in touch with the wife of one of the climbers. The family of the other man could not be reached, but it appeared the two men were experienced mountaineers.
Kawai said the family of one of the men had decided to delay coming to New Zealand until further details emerged about the rescue.
"One person is now moving. Another person, nobody knows where he is. If he is inside the tent, how he is? He may be injured so cannot go out," Kawai said.
New Zealand Alpine Club executive officer Ollie Clifton said the sighting was a good sign.
"It would give me a reasonable amount of confidence that they are prepared to sit it out and probably do have the other kit which you need to keep reasonably dry and warm.
"The wind speeds would be amazing. You are in a very exposed position."
They would need to make a "situation-specific" decision about whether they stayed put or moved. It was important that they rationed their food and stayed hydrated.
The Department of Conservation in Mount Cook Village said it was possible the rain could clear briefly this morning, although the winds may still be strong.
Rescuers were hoping the weather might ease and give them a chance to deliver supplies to the men or rescue them