Monday, 12 August 2013

Death in avalanche in the Remarkables

Jamie Vinton-Boot
Luke Thomas
JAMIE VINTON-BOOT: "An outstanding climber of this generation."
I have been both inspired and impressed by Jamie Vinton -Boot's weblog (Diary of an Alpinist) that I flick to on a regular basis and read of his outstanding alpine feats and view his quality photos. There was something fresh, daring, mature on his blog and  always backed up with a measured and professional approach to his climbs. What a blow to his friends and family to read last night of his untimely death. A brave young man who will be remembered not only by his love of the outdoors and life, but a blog of the highest quality. I think the quote on his blog title is a fitting epitath; 

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. - Goethe

The New Zealand climber gives this moving summary.


Jamie Vinton-Boot has been killed after being swept off his feet by an avalanche on the west face of the Remarkables today. In a statement to the Press, New Zealand Alpine Club General Manager, Sam Newton has acknowledged the sad passing of one of New Zealand’s most talented climbers. “Jamie Vinton-Boot is an outstanding climber of this generation and one of New Zealand’s most gifted alpinists” “He has completed numerous first ascents in New Zealand of an extremely high standard. These were often undertaken with his unique, self-imposed ‘the line of most resistance’ style and ethos. “He was recently a member of the ‘Backyard and Beyond’ project to seek out and promote home-grown exploration and adventure.” “As evidenced by his participation in the New Zealand Alpine Team, he was committed to developing and mentoring the next generation of climbers and adventurers in New Zealand – despite being a young man himself” “His death is a tragic loss for the climbing community and, of course, his friends and family. Our thoughts are with his loved ones, at this sad time.” .
The climber killed in an avalanche in the Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown was a life saving hero.
Jamie Vinton-Boot died today after falling 500 metres down the face of a mountain when he was struck by the avalanche at 8.35am.
Vinton-Boot was climbing in a well-known area with an experienced companion when the 4 metres wide and 300 to 400 millimetres deep avalanche struck.
The companion was uninjured in the incident and was able to reach him before raising the alarm. Police and the Remarkables ski-field patrols responded.
New Zealand Alpine Club general manager Sam Newton described Vinton-Boot as "one of New Zealand's most talented climbers".
''Jamie Vinton-Boot is an outstanding climber of this generation and one of New Zealand's most gifted alpinists," Newton said.
But more than just a climber, the 30-year-old was a hero.
When he was 21, he was part of a daring rescue in which he, his younger brother and a friend swum 300m out to sea in a strong rip to save a drowning man.
The trio were alerted to the Asian tourist's plight by one of his relatives, and dived into the Christchurch surf immediately to spend 30 minutes cradling the semi-conscious man back to shore.
They were lauded with praise for their efforts in risking their own lives, and deemed "heroes of the highest degree", by Constable Richard Scott, who arrived on the scene soon after.
Scott recommended the trio receive a Royal Humane Society medal for their efforts.
Vinton-Boot's true love was the mountains though and at 17-years-old he started climbing.
On his personal blog, he described the activity as the "focus of my life ever since".
"I have a burning desire to ascend mountains by the most challenging ways imaginable," he wrote.
"This has nothing to do with conquering summits. It is about discovering what it means to be alive and to be human."
While he enjoyed all forms of climbing, Vinton-Boot's "true passion" was alpinism.
His goal was to climb first ascents in New Zealand and overseas - the first of which he experienced in 2008.
Vinton-Boot and Derek Thatcher made the first ascent up the Mate's Little Brother, a steep wall in the Darran Mountain range in the Fiordland National Park.
The pair named the route Revelations, and it has yet to be repeated.
"This was the start of my first ascent career and I haven't looked back since," Vinton"To have this opportunity is both a privilege and a responsibility. A responsibility to keep the fundamental spirit of alpinism alive - the pursuit of the impossible and the unknown."
Newton said Vinton-Boot's first ascents were of "an extremely high standard''.
''These were often undertaken with his unique, self-imposed 'the line of most resistance' style and ethos," he said.
"His death is a tragic loss for the climbing community and, of course, his friends and family. Our thoughts are with his loved ones, at this sad time," Newton said.

Vinton-Boot was well aware of the dangers of his sport. In 2010, while rock climbing in the Port Hills he watched fellow rock climber and friend Troy Mattingley fall eight metres - landing in front of him.
Vinton-Boot was belaying him at the time as the pair were attempting a risky route called Lickedy Splat at The Tors.
The incident was not enough to deter him from climbing - a true testament to his love of it.
"Traditional sports like rugby didn't challenge me in the right way... there is risk involved and rock climbers are people who thrive on that risk or want to extend their comfort zone," he told the Central Canterbury News.
Thanks to Fairfax media for permission to run this article written by 

From Otago Daily Times Tuesday 13 August 2013. 

Climbers knew of avalanche danger

Queenstown climbers opted against climbing the western face of the Remarkables just 48 hours before experienced Christchurch climber Jamie Vinton-Boot was swept off his feet there by an avalanche, falling to his death.
The Mountain Safety Council warned of dangerous avalanche conditions and the likelihood of human-triggered avalanches in its advisory yesterday, ranking the ''considerable danger'' of avalanche on all Queenstown mountains.
Mr Vinton-Boot (30) said in his blog he had ''a burning desire to ascend mountains by the most challenging ways imaginable''.
''This has nothing to do with conquering summits. It is about discovering what it means to be alive and to be human.''
Mr Vinton-Boot was ''an exceptional climber and climbing was his passion'', his friend Queenstown Climbing Club president Guillaume Charton said yesterday.
''He was one of the most talented climbers in New Zealand in regards to mountaineering and rock and ice climbing.
''Lots of people in the Queenstown climbing community knew him because he was quite respected and would often come to this part of New Zealand. He was young and had a bright future.''
New Zealand Alpine Club general manager Sam Newton, of Christchurch, said Mr Vinton-Boot participated in the New Zealand Alpine Team to mentor the next generation of climbers, despite being a young man himself.
''His death is a tragic loss for the climbing community and, of course, his friends and family.''
Mr Vinton-Boot was in Queenstown ahead of the Remarkables Mixed Rock and Ice Festival from August 15 to 18.
Mr Newtown said the fundraising gathering of 100 enthusiasts was likely to go ahead.
Mr Vinton-Boot and his 34-year-old male companion were caught in the avalanche at 8.35am yesterday at Queens Drive, around the west face of the Remarkables, used by rock climbers because it is far from the ski area.
Mr Charton said Queens Drive was very exposed to snow transported by the wind.
''Conditions are changing every day and when we went there on Saturday, we decided to turn around because there was so much fresh snow,'' he said.
Mountain Safety Council avalanche and alpine programme manager Andrew Hobman, of Christchurch, said yesterday there was a ''considerable danger'' of wind slab avalanche because 10cm of fresh snow had fallen in the past day and a-half on to a compacted snow pack.
He said the wind deposited snow into dense layers called wind slabs that did not adhere well to the layers below them and were susceptible to light loads walking on them.
''This event highlights that any time you're on snow and the slope angle is greater than 25 degrees, avalanches can happen, and even very small avalanches which can take you off your feet are just as deadly as a great big avalanche,'' Mr Hobman said.
''The advisory for the day was noting it was likely to trigger an avalanche and the size would be small, so it's all about, then, the consequences of what happens when you do get taken.''
Queenstown police said Mr Vinton-Boot fell 500m in an avalanche that was about 4m wide and 300mm to 400mm deep. It swept him off his feet and down a steep face. He was unable to gain control of his descent.
The climber's uninjured companion called avalanche control at the Remarkables Ski Area first, which was the best thing to do, Sergeant Steve Watt, of Queenstown, said. The ski area patrol and police responded. Three or four search and rescuers were airlifted to near where the climber was found and had to trek to where he was, due to the terrain, Sgt Watt said.
''They carried out initial first-aid response on the victim and they put an airway through and tried their very best to bring the deceased back, but were unable to do so. He was not breathing when he was initially found and that's when CPR began.''
• A solo Canadian climber was rescued yesterday from a ravine at the edge of the Goldney Glacier on the eastern side of Mt Rolleston, near Arthurs Pass.
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand detected a United States-registered personal locator beacon just after noon and the rescue helicopter from Greymouth arrived about 1.20pm.
After assessing the situation, the helicopter flew to Arthurs Pass to pick up a member of the cliff rescue team before returning to winch the unharmed woman to safety. By James Beech

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