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Ice Gave Way Beneath Experienced Climbing Guide, Coroner Told

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Nov 13 NZPA - Experienced climbing guide Anton Wopereis fell to his death on Mt Cook after the ice gave way beneath his tools, an inquest in Twizel into his death has been told.

Mr Wopereis, 54, fell from the Summit Rocks on New Year's Day, while guiding celebrated Scottish climber Vicky Jack.

The accident happened as he climbed above her to attach a fresh anchor to the slope. He fell 60m, hitting rocks on the way.

Ms Jack told Coroner Richard McElrea that both Mr Wopereis' ice tools came out when he pulled on them.

Unlike guides who went ahead of him that day, Mr Wopereis' safety rope was not belayed, or fixed to the rock, the Timaru Herald reported.

Guide Dave McKinley, who climbed before Mr Wopereis, said it was not as simple as a wrong decision.

He said if a client was unable to belay proficiently being held up could put the leading climber at risk.

Half the time he climbed the Summit Rocks he chose to do so without being belayed.

At the point where Mr Wopereis fell he considered the ice to be weakened, but did not believe this had necessarily caused the accident.

Both Mr Crow and Mr McKinley agreed that if Mr Wopereis had been belayed it was unlikely the fall would have killed him.

Mr McElrea reserved his findings.

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