Avalanche victim a 'remarkable' woman

A New Zealander who died in an avalanche in the French Alps was a "remarkable" woman who was an accomplished alpinist and skier and had a close relationship with her teenage daughter, colleagues say.

Carol Nash-Hamilton, 58, originally from the lower North Island, was among six experienced skiers who were swept away by the large snowslide in the French Alps on Saturday, described as one of the deadliest in years.

Her death was today described as "a huge loss for the New Zealand mountaineering fraternity".

Ms Nash, who moved to France in the early 1990s, was a physiotherapist living in L'Argentiere-la-Bessee in the Alps region. She also played the violin.

She had a 16-year-old daughter Jessye, who she was very close to, Queenstown mountaineer Erik Bradshaw said.

"She had a very close relationship with her daughter and was very committed to making things work well for her," he said.

"I really feel for her daughter because as a mum-daughter pair they seemed a real close-knit pair and they did a lot together.

"So I feel quite worried about her daughter [being without her mother]."

He would try to contact Jessye, to "make sure she knows she's got a very good network of friends in New Zealand", he said.

Mr Bradshaw, who visited Ms Nash when on holiday with his family in the French Alps 18 months ago, described her as a "very good all-round climber, a very good rock climber, a good Alpinist and a good back-country skier".

"She's a lovely person, she's one of these very thoughtful and helpful people," he said.
"I was ... sort of dashing off doing small day ski trips by myself and she was busy trying to organise other people to go with me and things like that.

"And she's a very humble person. [Sometimes] you meet these people and you like them and it's only later on that you realise some of their accomplishments and skills.

They're humble, they're not out trying to parade themselves as being great."
Mr Bradshaw said that before he had met Ms Nash, he'd "heard of her".

"She was kind of one of these legendary figures [in the mountaineering community]," he said.

"My understanding is that she was definitely, at her peak, probably one of New Zealand's strongest rock climbers, and definitely a very motivated climber."

Despite living in France for around 20 years, Ms Nash's "heart was definitely in New Zealand", Mr Bradshaw said. He believed she stayed in France because her daughter's father worked as a guide in the French Alps.

"She very much saw the incredible beauty that New Zealand has that you don't have in the Alps," he said.

He later said: "She had this kind of yearning just to remember the Southern Alps and the mountains and the people. And I think that was probably one the things that really struck me was how much passion she had for New Zealand.

"It's definitely where her heart was. New Zealand was, for her, the most amazing place in the world."

Mountain photographer Colin Monteath, who knew Ms Nash in the 1970s and 1980s, described her as a "remarkable" woman.

"[She was] a very talented rock climber and also a musician, a violin player," he said.
"It's definitely a huge loss for the New Zealand mountaineering fraternity, especially as we understood that she was planning to come home at some stage."

Ms Nash was among six people from the French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs who died on a ski trip near the town of Ceillac in in the Queyras Massif, 200 kilometres north of Nice on the Italian border.

The four men and two women, who were all experienced skiers, were trekking at 2407m when they were caught up in the snowslide. They were aged between 58 and 73.

The deadly avalanche was 300m wide and 900m long, French media reported, with Haute-Alpes prefect Pierre Besnard saying it was caused by a hard slab of snow cracking and falling.

- NZME.

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