Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Remains of Kazakh climber, Irina Yun, found in New Zealand Alps.

It was with a great sense of relief today that I read that Irina Yun's remains were found. This extraordinary Kazakh woman who went missing on December 31, 2008 while attempting to walk the difficult Cascade Saddle track from Mt Aspiring Hut in the West Matukituki Valley, to the Dart Hut on the Dart River. Her back pack was found but at the time their was no sign of her.

Today 19 November 2009 Police have reportedly found the remains of a Russian migrant who disappeared while tramping 11 months ago in the Southern Alps. (Irina is actually of Kazakh nationality, who was iving in Auckland with her 4 year old daughter Liann when she went missing)
.An extensive search was made for Irina Yun, 36 when she was first reported missing and it continued some weeks later..

Police say a search and rescue dog handler from Oxford, Dave Krehic returned to the area on last week and conducted a private search with his dog Stig.

They subsequently located a femur and pelvis bone in the river bed wedged in between some rocks approximately three kilometres down stream of the Dart Hut.

A view of Mount Aspiring from near Cascade Saddle, the pass Irina crossed.

The Dunedin Coroner, an anthropologist and pathologist have examined the remains and have been able to confirm that the remains are that of Ms Yun.
Her next of kin have been advised.

Missing tramper's daughter Liann, 4, waits for her Mother.

When Irina went missing, I was recovering from an operation in Christchurch and got quite involved in the incident. Irina is from Kazakhstan, as is my wife. A sort of solidarity started.

Irina Yun's ex-parttner Oleg corresponded with me. especially when the newspapers got her nationality wrong. He said:
She is not Uzbek - she is what we call a "Russian Korean". Her grandparents were expelled from Korean border into Kazakhi desert in winter by Chairman Stalin 70 years ago. And they survived there - with no shelters at all!
(her ex-partner)

Friday 20 November 2009

I include an update i got from the Otago Daily Times written by By Marjorie Cook:

Search dog handler Dave Krehic's determination to find the remains of missing Auckland tramper Irina Yun (36) paid off last weekend, when his privately organised search party, including his German short- haired pointer Stig, found bones in the Dart River, about 3km-4km below the Dart Hut.

Ms Yun had been missing in the Mt Aspiring National Park since late December last year.

Southern region coroner David Crerar yesterday confirmed anthropologists and pathologists Prof John Dennison, Dr Martha Nicholson and Dr Hannah Thorne had examined and ascertained the remains were "those of Irina Yun".

Further tests would be undertaken, but Ms Yun's family had been advised Ms Yun was now considered deceased.

An inquest would be held next year, Mr Crerar said.

Dave Krehic

Ms Yun, an immigrant from Kazakhstan, disappeared in a storm on December 31, while tramping the Cascade Saddle between the Aspiring and Dart Huts.

LandSar Wanaka volunteers spent 350 hours combing the exposed and difficult high country on the route, as well as gullies, river beds and gorges in the immediate area.

A tramping pack positively identified as belonging to Ms Yun was found in a gorge area of the Dart River, below the Dart Hut, on January 5.

Damage to the pack made it clear it had been torn from its wearer with considerable force and had been in the water for some time, Sergeant Aaron Nicholson said yesterday.

The search was called off because it was believed Ms Yun had been subjected to the force of the flooded Dart River and unable to survive it.

Mr Krehic, a Christchurch auto electrician and member of the Oxford search and rescue team, and Stig (8) were involved in the official search in January.

"The family didn't know, but it was of interest to me. I come from that background of being outdoors. And I met her friends at the search and wanted to do something for them," Mr Krehic said.

Mr Krehic, Stig, alpine cliff rescue specialist Masa Sato of Christchurch and Queenstown white water rescue team members Andy Pedley and Mat McLeod began their search last Friday.

They found bones, including a femur and pelvis bone, trapped between large boulders on Saturday, and police retrieved the items on Sunday.

The team also found some shorts, jandals and pieces of a pack cover nearby.

Ownership of those items has not yet been confirmed.

Mr Krehic said he did quite a bit of research before returning to the Dart River.

The rough terrain in the rocky gorge below the Dart Hut contained boulders the size of trucks, and specialist skills were needed to get through it.

The water levels were lower last weekend than in January, but the terrain was still particularly difficult for Stig, who at times had to wear a harness for his safety.

"Without Stig, we wouldn't have found them [Ms Yun's remains]. He showed some interest in an area and I asked Maso and Matt to investigate the area . . .

"He [Stig] was well worn out after two days in the gorge. We were pushing him into cracks and holes and tunnel systems that the river makes its way through in flood . . .

"But we treated him just like any other team member, which was safety first," Mr Krehic said.

On Saturday, the day of the discovery, the team started its search about 7km below Dart Hut and worked its way back up.

Within 2km the team had found the personal items, and Ms Yun's remains were found another 1km up.

Mr Krehic said he and his team-mates were prepared to pay for last weekend's search themselves, but he understood police and LandSar New Zealand were now considering helping out with helicopter expenses.

Ms Yun's ex-husband, Oleg Amiton, of Auckland, said, when contacted yesterday, the discovery provided some closure for him.

A memorial service had been held earlier in the year, he said.

Their 4-year-old daughter Liann was getting a lot of attention from himself, her grandmother and friends, and was doing well, he said.

Now this news is out, my thoughts and prayers are with Irina's daughter Liann and her Dad Oleg. May God comfort you and may Irina rest in peace. I know the area well and couldn't think of a better place for ones spirit to rest in peace.

I salute Dave Krehic, and his dog Stig, for an amazing rescue. Dave is one of those hardy and caring outdoorsmen who deserves the highest praise for helping a grieving familiy find closure, and to solve another NZ alpine mystery.

If you would like to view some of Irina's photography, click on this website:


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Thanks for the update on this. Sad news, but closure for the family, friends, and loved ones will be a positive outcome. My hats off to the team and their persistence.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb

Yes, closure is important for the family. Also, for those of us who tred the mountain paths, we like to see those who are lost or missing, put properly to rest.

Have a good weekend.
Thanks for the email about the new addition to the family. You and Tara are so caring.


Donald said...

Hi Bob

Thanks for the comprehensive "heads up" on Irina. The search for her was one of the most fascinating and interesting I've been involved with [take it as read it was sad too].

Unlike many in my younger days, her web sites gave us an immediate persona I know I related too very easily, much more readily than in days of old, when a typical description would have been: "young woman of medium height and weight, wearing a red parka and carrying a green pack". I noted in the SAR group too a distinct empathy and caring seemed to develop as we went along, and there were some highly motivated planning and ideas developing as each day ended in frustration. In fact lots of lateral thinking too - any idea or concept was seriously considered by the planning team, and tasks readily accepted by the ground teams then actioned positively.

In short, for her family I'm happy the means to closure has been arrived at, and I think your summary will help in this regard as well. So well done!



Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...


I was quite moved to read your comments on the search. I take my hat of to you and all the other searchers. An excellent conclusion. Your comments " her web sites gave us an immediate persona I know I related too very easily, much more readily than in days of old " are fascinating and I must say I too found her website so enriching, yet poignant.

After 11 months of uncertainty for the family, this conclusion is so welcome.

Anonymous said...


Joe said...

Nice tribute Bob. My heart goes out for her little one.

Joe Lowry said...

Nice tribute Bob. My heart goes out for the little one.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Yes Joe, it is the little ones who frequently have so much to lose. Bob

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Nichola said...

Thanks Bob, I was given this link when asking if Irina was still missing on a forum. Very sad. I knew her a little bit had just started to get to know her over her last 6mths and met her beautiful daughter a few times. She was also a great artist too. So sad for her little girl. Irina is greatly missed and even though we didn't know her for long, I think about her often and she is greatly missed.

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