Courtesy of Brent Langlinais
At 9:30 a.m. on January 1, 2008, Anton Wopereis, an experienced 54-year-old Kiwi mountain guide from the town of Wanaka, was reported to have fallen while guiding the Linda Glacier Route on Mt. Cook (3754m), New Zealand’s tallest peak. He was said to have died of trauma in transport to definitive medical care.
The details of the accident are being investigated, but at this time he is believed to have anchored his client, a Scottish female, at ca. 3400 meters on a section of the climb known as “Summit Rock.” He continued climbing to establish another anchor above. It was reported that he sunk two ice tools into a sheet of ice that fractured or dislodged. The guide fell the full 60-meter ropelength before coming to rest below his client. To his credit the client’s anchor held; she was helicoptered off the mountain with four other guides and their clients, who were involved in the rescue attempt. All others were uninjured but torn up about the incident.
Adventure Consultants owner Guy Cotter said, “[Wopereis] was a rock-solid mountain guide with many years of experience, and he was very well respected in the guiding community. He will be sadly missed. Everybody is in shock about this, as you would expect… He was a quiet, considerate type, who always thought deeply about his approach to the mountains.”
Wopereis first climbed Mt. Cook in 1976 and had made more than thirty successful climbs of the peak since. He was a member of the IFMGA and had climbed, skied and guided all over the world.
The Summit Rock area is notorious for loose terrain and has been the scene of several accidents over the years. Most recently, a Japanese team was descending this section in January, 2007 when their rappel anchor failed (see the January 25, 2007 NewsWire for more information).