'Inexperienced' British climber Robert Buckley falls 2,000ft to death in New Zealand

'It appears as if the party were insufficiently equipped and inexperienced' says police inspector

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The Independent Online

An inexperienced British climber has fallen 2,000 feet (600 metres) to his death in New Zealand.

Originally from Essex, Robert Buckley was part of a group of three climbers from Britain and Ireland who were trying to reach a small hut on Mount Sefton in the Aoraki-Mountain Cook National Park, police said.

The 31-year-old was wearing crampons at the time, but slipped on the ice and fell on Saturday.

Rescuers were able to locate the party, but could not reach them as darkness fell on Saturday night.

The rest of Mr Buckley's party was forced to spend the night on the mountain before they were helped down yesterday, at which point the search and rescue team was able to find and recover the body.

“It appears as if the party were insufficiently equipped and inexperienced for the climb they had undertaken,” police spokesman Inspector Dave Gaskin told reporters.

He said: “There was a lot of snow and ice in very steep conditions.”

Mr Buckley had been living in Christchurch since moving to New Zealand a year ago. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the death of a British man in New Zealand. We are providing consular assistance at this time.”

His death came just a day after a 36-year-old man from New Zealand slipped and fell about 200 feet to his death from a ridge in the same national park.

Duncan Rait, who lived in Australia, had been dropped off by helicopter and was walking to a hut when he fell in the Tasman Glacier area.

Inspector Gaskin said the deaths were a reminder that climbers needed to use extreme caution.

“I can’t speak for the first death, but in this case it looks like to be a lack of experience,” he said.