New Zealand's climbing community is in mourning after
Christchurch climber Jamie Vinton-Boot was killed in an
avalanche on the Remarkables last week. James Beech talks to
the Wakatipu volunteers who help those in crisis, often putting
their own welfare on the line.
Climbers Paul Hersey (left) and Jamie Vinton-Boot are flown
from Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park after a climb. Mr
Vinton-Boot died while climbing with a companion, who was
uninjured, in the Remarkables on August 12. Photo by
Queenstown rescuers risked their lives in poor visibility and
on slippery, exposed mountain terrain to recover the body of
a young Christchurch father from the Remarkables last week.
Experienced and well-equipped climber Jamie Vinton-Boot (30)
was swept off his feet by an avalanche and fell 500m to his
death in a ravine on August 12.
Alpine Cliff Rescue Team co-leader Chris Prudden, of
Queenstown, said he and about five fellow team members,
including those who double as Remarkables ski patrollers,
were ''the best guys to be there'' for the recovery with
''They've got the expertise with rescue, with first-aid and
dealing with that particular environment, so they did a
sterling job in a difficult situation,'' Mr Prudden said.
Recovering Mr Vinton-Boot's body was a challenge and had to
be done by human load stropping underneath the hovering
rescue helicopter, the pilot in communication with a spotter
on the ground.
Mr Prudden said there was a slim chance of another avalanche
falling on their heads, similar to the 4m-wide, 300mm to
400mm-deep slab avalanche which struck Mr Vinton-Boot at
Queens Drive, around the west face of the Remarkables.
However, rescuers risked more danger from moving around on
slippery terrain to determine if the climber was alive and
''We need people on site, but you've got to be very
careful,'' Mr Prudden said.
''There's a lot of cliff areas there. People could just slide
off, or fall over a cliff.''
The rescue team co-leader and mountain guide said the climber
probably suffered a fatal injury early on.
''You arrive at site and it's not pretty ... and everybody's
got a different way of dealing with it, but people who can't
deal with it are weeded out of the team fairly quickly,'' Mr
''It's a natural response. We don't like those situations,
but to do what we do, we have to cope with them.''
Mr Vinton-Boot was a married engineering consultant and New
Zealand Mountaineer of the Year, The New Zealand
Friend Paul Hersey told the Herald Mr Vinton-Boot had become
more conservative in his climbing since the birth of his son,
Mahe, eight months ago.
The death has been referred to the coroner.