decision-making on deadly Great Walk criticised

In July 2016, two tourists set out on a six-day tramp on one of New Zealand's renowned Great Walks. Three days later, one was dead and the other was desperately trying to flag down a passing helicopter.
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I didn't realise how short that distance is, probably 3-4kms, I would be nervous if that took 2 hours in those conditions. They must have reached the shelter and determined the worst was behind them, and it was only another 7kms to the hut, which you might think could be done in 2 hours if you're suffering from hypothermia by then and hoping for improving conditions. In that situation it's very likely that one person pressured another to continue. It would make more sense if they left Routeburn Falls on hard packed snow on a sunny day, saw the weather changing near the saddle and made a decision that they could reach Lake McKenzie by the time shit got real bad - that they could out hike the weather. That's not something I would necessarily criticise, even if they died - that's their choice. Then one could argue they acted ambitious considering the conditions. Their actions point more to delusion than anything else.
@jmeyer: as usual, it's another example of not knowing what you don't know. We no doubt all had our lucky escapes, but you can make a lot of luck by not trying to push it too hard.
@bernard. My thoughts exactly. Reading the account it feels like a classic example of not having enough knowledge/experience to realise how bad and dangerous the decisions you are making are. And likewise not having the experience / knowledge to either assess the risks for yourself or even to judge the advice you are being given. Which is why telling people 'the weather/snow is too bad, don't go' doesn't work. Unless the person receiving the advice has the experience to know what bad weather/snow conditions in winter on a pass in the southern Alps are like ... they just think 'oh bad weather like we get at our house'. 'We can do that ...'
its a bit of a dilemma, how to educate some people. few years ago, 3 germans arrived at arete forks on dark, 3 days to get there, slept out on way. thought they were going to go "across country" (ie not around the route around the ridge tops) to get to the western side of range. weather was lousy, very windy. Iwas bit annoyed with them, burnt a lot of wood I'd cut, never replaced it. Think I scared them a bit so told them, they should go back out, go in the eastern Ruahines. Because they would most likely die if they kept going read in paper week later, 3 germans rescued from tops along eastern Ruahines. I'm inclined to think warning messages about conditions, should be more explicit. like the smoking ones, and driving.
Thumbs up
you need to state on warning signs people have died in the area at least to try and ram it home.
This is a tragic story, but the fact that they took the time to seek out DOC advice and then ignored it suggests that no amount of warning signs were going to change their minds. Prior to setting off, I doubt they had considered an alternative plan that involved staying put or turning back.
you have to spell it out to them. If you go, you may die...
It already says that on the routeburn wayno. There are 4 A1/A0 signs at the shelter and each hut spelling out how dangerous it is in winter. Plus the usual avalanche risk sign you have to pass round mid-track at each end of the alpine section. But we see warning this may kill you signs everywhere ... so they have zero impact. They're on just about every gate in tb control areas of nz, the entrance to every eork-site, ... for example. Escalation of warning signage just ends up devaluing the message as people get used to it and adjust.
the rangers need to tell people when they ask. at least now they can say one of the last people to attempt it in winter, died... at least if you've advised people of the dangers the ball is in their court and the authorities have done due diligence... you were advised and you ignored the advice.. to have no signs isn't going to achieve anything either. this is what you will get with tourists, they are sheep. if someone else is walking past a danger sign and they are wearing street clothing, then there is no shortage of people
Perhaps the warnings and the fact those giving warnings can point to all these deaths are having an effect and people are taking notice. I don't think we have had any fatalities on these tracks (touch wood) since this one, that makes three fatality free seasons now. (Correct me if I'm wrong, and hopefully nothing happens in the next months) (OK, it looks like someone died (German male) on the Gertrude Saddle route in April 2018) Before that, it seemed tourists were dying on the southern Great Walks and other tourist tracks nearly every year: An Israeli woman lost on the Routeburn, an Indonesian woman drowned on the Milford, two Canadian men avalanched on the Kepler, an Israeli man and a French woman from falling after getting off route on the Gertrude Saddle, this incident on the Routeburn, a NZer falling near McKinnon Pass...
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Forum The campfire
Started by waynowski
On 3 September 2019
Replies 44
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