6 Oct 2013

Climber's death prompts call for warning signs

6:42 am on 6 October 2013

A coroner is recommending improved warning signs and the installation of a permanent guide rope in an area of Mt Aspiring National Park where several people have died.

German tourist Frank Spychalski, who was 38, slipped and fell while trying to negotiate steep slopes near the Cascade Saddle in November last year.

In his findings, the Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar says he understands there have been about 10 other deaths on or near the saddle.

Mr Crerar is calling for signage in the area to be improved and to possibly include reference to the number of deaths that have occurred there. He also suggests a fixed rope be considered for the most dangerous section of the route.

Federated Mountain Clubs says wire ropes are difficult to maintain and their posts can be torn out during avalanches.

The organisation's president, Robin McNeill, says warning signs may not deter those determined to go through the area. "The wrong people get frightened off and the people who are hell-bent on going somewhere are going to go there anyway."

Mr McNeill says his organisation plans to meet the coroner, the Department of Conservation and the Mountain Safety Council to discuss the recommendations and alternatives.

The Department of Conservation says interim changes will be made to warning signs to focus more strongly on hazards. It says a review of all safety aspects will be carried out this summer.