The Expedition Climbers Club Inc., as administrators of the New Zealand Alpine Team, wish to announce the commencement of an independent review into the Marian Peak accident that sadly resulted in the deaths of our teammates Sarwan Chand and Conor Smith late last month.
While this accident did not take place on an NZAT trip, Conor and Sarwan were members of the team at the time of the accident, and as such, the Club wishes to review all the factors at play in the events prior to and during the trip that might have contributed to this tragedy. This is done so that any necessary changes can be made to avoid such an event occurring again, to assist any other inquiries into the accident that may take place, and finally to provide extensive information to the family, the ECC/NZAT, and the wider climbing community generally.
The review panel and review structure is presently being formulated. Its terms of reference will be broad-ranging in scope, primarily addressing issues contributing to and arising from this accident, but will also consider possible wider issues raised recently in public fora. As such we expect to appoint 3-4 independent persons to our review panel, from the amateur and professional climbing community.
The review panel will be chaired by a person of high standing in the alpine community with no ties to the ECC/NZAT. We anticipate appointing 1-2 further panel members of similar public standing, but who have attended ECC events/NZAT trips (but are not in any way NZAT members), in the interests of providing perspective on NZAT culture and structure.
All present and past members of the NZAT will be asked to submit to the review panel, along with representatives of prominent climbing organisations. The review panel will consider these submissions and the circumstances of the Marian accident, in order to produce internal recommendations relevant to the NZAT, along with any external recommendations to the wider climbing community.
Until the completion of this review and any Coronial process, we respectfully ask that in the interests of family and friends of Sarwan and Conor that people refrain from speculating about the circumstances of the accident.
The NZAT is committed to a transparent and rigorous review of this tragedy.
Statement prepared by: Jaz Morris - Vice President, Expedition Climbers Club (Inc.).