Mountain tragedy pair were 'the best'

By Amelia Wade

A family photograph shows Marty Schmidt (centre) with his children Sequoia Di Angelo (left) and Denali Schmidt.
A family photograph shows Marty Schmidt (centre) with his children Sequoia Di Angelo (left) and Denali Schmidt.

Sequoia Di Angelo knows exactly why her father and brother continued up treacherous K2 while the rest of the team retreated.

"Because they were the strongest climbers on the mountain."

The world's second highest peak claimed the lives of Marty and Denali Schmidt a fortnight ago when an avalanche struck while they were sleeping at Camp 3 at about 7400m.

After receiving bad weather reports, the rest of the team abandoned their mission to K2's peak, but the father and son continued on with a push to the summit.

Marty Schmidt, 53, was an experienced mountaineer and a professional guide, and his son shared his passion for the peaks.

Ms Di Angelo, 22, said she and her brother learned to climb before they could walk.

She was born in Napier and lived there on and off for most of her life - which took a different turn from her brother's.

Ms Di Angelo started a magazine called Houston Youth which later developed into a publishing company.

"I grew up climbing - it wasn't really a choice. I shared a passion for rock climbing with my brother and father, though never ice. However, my life took me in a different direction - business, high heels and entrepreneurial adventures. But I can still pitch a tent like no other and scale a rock wall in record time.

"Those things are in my DNA."

But growing up with a mountaineer for a father meant she knew exactly what it meant when she heard the pair's tent was found damaged by a sherpa sent to find them.

"One of the benefits of being raised by a mountain man is that you learn things regular kids would never know. Like how to pitch a tent, how to prevent frost bite and unfortunately, knowing what happens when an avalanche hits.

"There is never good news with an avalanche."

She said that she was still learning what happened to her brother and father "every day". Marty Schmidt's wife, Giannina Cantale, has been finding it very difficult.

Ms Di Angelo said her brother would want to be remembered as an artist.

"He loved the mountains, he loved the outdoors and most of all, he loved his dad. However, Denali's calling was always art.

"He began drawing around 3 years old, just sketches and things that kids do. However, his skills developed and he became this amazing artist - he really knew how to incorporate his life passions into his work.

"One of his last pictures he painted was of K2."

And her father would always be the mountain man.

In her eyes, he was one of the best climbers in the world.

"He lived every day, really lived. There are not many men who can accomplish or even dare to accomplish the many things he achieved.

"He got to experience the most beautiful and powerful mountains in the world.

"He lived a life that many dream of. In his words, he 'belonged in the vertical world'."

- NZ Herald

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