Guides could barely believe what they saw

16:00, Jan 13 2010

A naked male attempting to climb Mt Taranaki has staggered experienced mountain guides.

Veteran guide Ian McAlpine yesterday pleaded with climbers to show some common sense.

He said he was very concerned with the lack of protective warm clothing and equipment among people trying to reach the summit.

"One occasion a man was seen climbing the lower reaches of the mountain naked," he said.

"Others are climbing the mountain in sandals, while others are climbing in shorts and T-shirts with only cell phones and cigarettes."

Mr McAlpine said some days in the past few weeks have seen winds reaching over 100kmh with gusts even stronger.

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"We are experiencing temperatures up there this summer very different than other years – some days in the high 20s and others as low as 2 degrees, and with the added wind chill, much lower.

"On one occasion in the past week, I felt like the Pied Piper with 15 people tagging onto our group in the midst of our way down the mountain.

"With the high winds we have been experiencing on the mountain, people need even more warm clothing and self-responsibility."

Mr McAlpine said climbers needed to be more aware of weather forecasts.

"Whether we are going into a cold front or out of one, as to whether the wind is likely to become stronger or less.

"If it is likely to strengthen it is possible to get struck on the upper mountain.

"Summiters should be aware that at times the wind can rise in strength very quickly and even though they may have a cellphone, the wind can become so strong rescuers may not be able to get up to them.

"Just because people can see other mountain users above them doesn't mean it is OK to follow them.

"The people above them may have more mountain experience or be better equipped."

Taranaki Daily News