Jessica McLachlan always suspected her partner would die doing what he loved but she had no idea she would be facing life as a single mum so soon after they started a family.
McLachlan was at a holiday home in Queenstown with her 6-month-old son, Mahe, when she was told of the death of her partner, high-profile alpinist Jamie Vinton-Boot.
The accomplished climber was swept away by an avalanche while on an expedition in The Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown on Monday.
He was climbing with an experienced companion when the avalanche struck, throwing him 500 metres down the mountain.
McLachlan said Vinton-Boot had been too excited about the climb to sleep the night before his death. "I woke up at about 3am in the morning and I could tell that he was also awake and he was like ‘What's the time, what's the time, can I get up?' " she said.
"He left the house at about 4.30am, and I got a text from him at 6.30am telling me where he was. He always lets me know where he's going and how long he'll be. And that was it."
Christchurch born and raised McLachlan and Wellington native Vinton-Boot met 10 years ago through mutual friends when they were both students at Lincoln University. The former Linwood College student said the attraction was instant. "My first impressions were that I wanted him in my life. Jamie was the most passionate person about life that I have ever met."
McLachlan knew her partner courted danger. One week before baby Mahe was born, Vinton-Boot had been out climbing Mt Cook with friends when the biggest landslip in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park for more than a decade tore down the mountain.
The 900-metre long slip produced a rock slide of more than a million cubic metres of rock.
"They had missed it by about three hours, so I do think that that was meant for Jamie, but he was too quick that time.
"He didn't forget to tie a knot, or it wasn't that he wasn't wearing a helmet; he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
McLachlan was now facing life as a single mother "which she never thought she would be, quite so early on", and was cherishing memories of him; particularly the fresh bread he used to make "from scratch, every single day".
"I'm just so glad that he was in my life for 10 years. He got to do every single thing in his life that he wanted to do, including being a father - even if it was only for six months. Now, she was finding solace reading her partner's diaries, which he wrote in every day. McLachlan had found a scrawled life mantra she believed summed him up perfectly. He wrote: "Every day I am totally psyched to be alive, to climb my best, to be with Jess, to enjoy every moment, to make the world a better place, eat real and healthy food, to do more with less, to be me!"
Thanks to Fairfax News for permission to run the article.