Unfortunately it is with great sadness that we announce that the climber reported killed on Mt Aspiring yesterday was NZ Alpine Team member Ari Kingan, age 21 of Golden Bay. Ari was our good mate, and our thoughts are with his friends and family; our sincere condolences to his family Lea, Ross and Dan.
Ari had just completed an ascent of the South Face of Mt Aspiring with a friend, having set off at 2am from French Ridge Hut. They were descending the North West Ridge at night and had just begun descending The Ramp when a change from powder snow to blue ice caught Ari, who was in front, by surprise. He lost his footing and fell several hundred metres to the Bonar Glacier below.
Ari was a well liked and respected member of the team who was on the recent successful NZAT expedition to Denali, North America’s highest mountain. He was a capable rock and mixed climber, he was sensible and a solid climbing partner. He was strong, talented, generous and honest. He brought his good nature and willing attitude to every climb and to everything in life.
The South Face of Aspiring was one of Ari’s great goals, a difficult climb that he achieved on a stunning day in the mountains. He had previously climbed the technically much easier North West Ridge in summer, and it is a tragedy that his life should be taken when their climb was almost over. It is a sad reminder to all mountaineers that the summit is only half-way – all too often accidents occur during descent, and the Ramp is a notoriously treacherous place that has previously claimed the lives of others descending the mountain.
We will miss you Ari. It’s a truly sad day.