New Zealand Stuff reports Erica Jane Beuzenberg, an acclaimed 41 year-old guide, and her British and Japanese clients was killed on Mount Cook after falling 650 feet on Ball Pass. Harsh weather is preventing recovery of the bodies. 214 people have died on Mount Cook since it was first climbed in 1894.
Ball Pass is not considered one of the most difficult parts of the mountain. Gottlieb Braun-Elwert, founder of the guide company that employed Beuzenberg said the climbers were descending a slope covered in snow and ice when one of them slipped and as he tried to brace himself against a fall he unbalanced the guide and another climber.
The two climbers were Briton John Lowndes, 59, and Kazuhiro Kotani, 29, from Japan.
Ball Pass is a 2105m crossing from Tasman Valley to Hooker Valley. Since 1975, seven people have died at the pass – a two to three-day high-alpine crossing which joins the eastern Tasman Valley to the western Hooker Valley.
Ms Beuzenberg, who had only recently married, and another guide had been helping a party of eight across Ball Pass yesterday when one of the climbers slipped as he tried to secure his position with an ice axe, unbalancing the guide and the other climber and taking them all over the cliff. In 1989 Ms Beuzenberg became the first person to complete a winter ascent of all New Zealand’s 3000m peaks in one winter. She was the first woman to climb Mt Cook in winter, the first woman to climb the Balfour Face of Mt Tasman in winter and the first woman to climb Argentina’s Mt Fitzroy. She had also been a guide for New Zealand Prime Minister.