Wānaka-based Aspiring Guides have confirmed that two of its clients have died following a climbing accident on a guided trip on The Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown.
The victims have been named as 44-year-old James Harry Spaile of Australia and 62-year-old Brett Alexander Lentfer, who lived in Australia.
The incident occurred on the Grand Traverse, a well-known route on The Remarkables, at approximately 11:45am last Thursday.
NZ police inspector Olaf Jensen clarified that the two men—who were both experienced climbers—and a guide from Aspiring Guides, were the only members of the party, and that the guide was not involved in the fall, which took place at a “significant altitude”.
Aspiring Guides company director Vickie Sullivan said that the team was devastated and extended their deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives.
“Our immediate concern is for the families who have lost their loved ones and to support them in any way we can,” said Sullivan. “We are also working closely with the NZ Police and the NZ Mountain Guides Association to aid their investigation around the circumstances of the incident and are conducting our own internal review.”
Sullivan added that the Aspiring Guides team and wider climbing community is close-knit and has been deeply shocked by the tragedy.
“We are providing support and assistance to our team but have also been overwhelmed at the response from our small NZ mountain and guiding community who have been in touch to pass on their condolences to those most affected and offer assistance where they can.” said Sullivan. “I would also like to thank the Emergency Services and the Wānaka and Wakatipu Alpine Cliff Rescue team for their quick response and assistance.”