14 Dec 2008

Surviving Australian climber speaks of ordeal

10:03 pm on 14 December 2008

The Australian mountain climber who survived for two nights after his brother died on Aoraki-Mount Cook has spoken of his ordeal.

Miles Vinar watched as his brother, Perth GP Mark Vinar, fell down a ridge on Thursday morning.

He says they were well prepared but the weather turned bad and then his brother slipped.

Mr Vinar said as soon as he saw his brother tumble hundreds of metres down a steep hill while trying to cross some ice he knew there was no chance he'd survive the fall.

He told of his fear during two icy nights spent in a snow cave on Mount Cook.

"On Thursday night, actually, I was expecting to die that night," he said.

"It was just a continual flow of snow coming down your face ... It was a continual battle just to keep clearing it all the time."

Miles Vinar sustained just a few light cuts around his face from his jacket, and a little sunburn on his nose.

Mr Vinar says he has already been tempted to return to the mountain, but thought he would not because of his family.

Miles Vinar will fly to Perth on Monday to be reunited with his wife and child.

Foreign climbers usually experienced

The Mountain Safety Council says the death of Mark Vinar and another foreign climber on Aoraki Mount Cook recently were not caused by inexperience.

Mr Vinar and Japanese guide Kiyoshi Ikenouchi have died on the mountain since 5 December.

The Mountain Safety Council says mountaineers who come to New Zealand are usually extremely experienced.

Although New Zealand mountains present dangers, it says these dangers are common on mountains all over the world.

The council says the climbing season has not been especially dangerous to date.

Nine people have died on Zurbriggens Ridge, where Mark Vinar is thought to have perished, and 70 people have died on Aoraki/Mt Cook since 1907.