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K2 avalanche claims lives

Last updated 10:29 30/07/2013
Graeme Giles

Graeme Giles, left, is guided up the summit of the Mount Aconcagua middle peak by adventurer and tour guide Marty Schmidt.

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A Kiwi father and son well known to Marlborough climbers are confirmed dead after an avalanche on K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.

Marty Schmidt and his son Denali were reported missing on 8611-metre K2, the highest point in the Karakoram Range, which spans Pakistan, India and China.

Mr Schmidt had been blogging his trek on the website of outdoor adventure equipment company Macpac.

The company posted a message this morning saying the pair had been killed by an avalanche.

It carried a report from British climber Adrian Hayes, who said the pair died at Camp 3 on the southeast ridge of K2 in Pakistan.

"Two of our sherpas reached Camp 3 to find it wiped out by an avalanche," Mr Hayes reported.

"As Marty's last radio communication took place Friday night from the camp, the avalanche almost certainly occurred that night as they slept in their tent." He described the pair as "great people" who were "very well known, highly experienced and extremely strong mountaineers".

"Sadly, at times the mountains do not differentiate between ability and experience, least of all K2," he said.

"The poignancy of the tragedy is not lost in that, had the rest of us not turned back that day - including Marty and Denali's Australian team-mate Chris Warner - we also all would have been sleeping at Camp 3 when the avalanche struck."

Last year, Mr Schmidt, at 51, became the oldest New Zealander to conquer Mt Everest.

Marlborough man Graeme Giles said last night he was saddened by the two deaths.

Mr Giles, who climbed Mt Cook with Mr Schmidt, said his friend was safety conscious. "His abilities, his skills, no-one has ever questioned them."

Mr Schmidt, who had climbed Mt Cook 30 times and Mt Everest twice, was risk-averse, Mr Giles said.

"This is not about skills, it's about bad luck."

Mr Schmidt had lived "a wonderful, strong life", he said, and his achievements should be highlighted.

Among those was Mr Schmidt taking the Marlborough-based great-grandson of the first man to climb Mt Cook to the summit his ancestor had scaled.

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- The Marlborough Express

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