The New Zealand Alpine Club president has called for the New Zealand Alpine Team to consider an independent review of an accident which killed two of its members in Fiordland last week.

The bodies of Conor Smith, 22, and Sarwan Chand, 27 - both members of the alpine team - were recovered last Tuesday from Marian Peak, in the Darran Mountains.

A search was launched when they were reported 24 hours overdue and their bodies were seen from a helicopter at the base of a climbing face last Monday night.

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The duo were believed to be attempting a challenging route on the south face of the peak, a popular area for advanced climbers.

A service for Chand was held in Christchurch on Monday. Smith's funeral was in Greymouth yesterday.

They are the third and fourth members of the alpine team to die in climbing incidents in less than four years.

On August 12, 2013 Christchurch's Jamie Vinton-Boot, 30, was killed on the Remarkables after he was swept off his feet by a small avalanche while climbing the west face of the mountain and fell 500m.

Almost exactly a year later, on August 24, 2014, Ari Ross Kingan, 21, died on Mt Aspiring after he lost his footing and plunged hundreds of metres to his death.

Climbers Conor Smit, left, and Sarwan Chand died after falling from Marian Peak in Fiordland. Photo / NZ Alpine Team
Climbers Conor Smit, left, and Sarwan Chand died after falling from Marian Peak in Fiordland. Photo / NZ Alpine Team

Included in coroner Marcus Elliott's recommendations following the inquest in 2016 was for mountaineers to discuss, agree on and employ suitable travel options/nodes in terrain where falling was possible and could result in serious consequences, and to pay particular attention to moderate terrain where typically mountaineers would travel un-roped.

A copy of his full findings was sent to the alpine team.

Alpine club president Dr Penny Brothers yesterday expressed her condolences to the families of Smith and Chand and encouraged the alpine team to consider an independent review, which might help to prevent similar accidents in the future.


The team is made up of volunteers who mentor young climbers over a three-year period.

Smith and Chand were part of the its second intake of mentored climbers, coming in for the 2016-19 period and had both recently returned from a month-long ice-climbing team expedition to the Canadian Rockies.

Brothers said both men had also been club members.

''Specifically, after an accident three years ago, the club instituted a professional independent review to assess cause and make recommendations, which were then successfully implemented throughout the club.''

The review was prompted by the deaths of Nicole Sutton and Hiroki Ogawa in October 2013 on Mt Taranaki. Sutton and Ogawa died of hypothermia after being caught out near the summit of the mountain in atrocious weather, having been part of a larger group from the Auckland section of the alpine club.

The club commissioned two International Federation of Mountain Guides Association guides, who were also experienced safety auditors, to carry out the review.


Brothers said their recommendations included that the club identify safety goals for all of its programmes and provide the lessons learnt from the accident to the wider membership.

Subsequently, the club had been actively working to continue building a safety culture; new processes and documentation for trip organisers and leaders had been developed, field-tested and implemented; training programmes for trip leaders were being developed; and the club's safety management system was being reviewed.