4 Feb 2015

Weather hampers Queenstown climber search

12:19 pm on 4 February 2015

Weather is today hampering the search for Wanaka mountaineer Simon Bell, who has been missing near Queenstown for three weeks.

Missing mountaineer Simon Bell.

Missing mountaineer Simon Bell. Photo: NZ Police

The 33-year-old man set off to climb Mount Earnslaw, near Glenorchy, on 13 January and had not been heard from since.

The police have spoken with a fellow climber who had stayed in a hut with Simon Bell on 14 January.

He told police Mr Bell was intending to climb the West to East Face of Mount Earnslaw.

A police spokesperson said in a search of huts and tracks in the area yesterday, a sleeping bag and other person items believed to belong to Mr Bell were found.

A helicopter found no sign of the missing man and the weather today was hampering efforts to continue the search.

The police were still keen to hear from anyone, especially climbers in the area at the time, who might know more about Mr Bell's intentions.

The bad weather was set to continue for the next day or so and the police were unsure when the search would resume.

Mr Bell was well prepared and was carrying the appropriate clothing and gear, including a personal locator beacon and mobile phone, the spokesperson said.

However, the beacon had not been activated and his phone had not connected with any cell phone tower since the day he left.