The Dominion Post

Family concern for Wellington climber missing on mountain

- JOHN EDENS ANNA PEARSON

THE family of a Wellington climber missing in the Glenorchy back country for three weeks have expressed their fears for his safety.

Simon Bell, an experience­d 33-yearold member of the Wellington section of the New Zealand Alpine Club, was last seen on January 13, when he told friends he planned to climb Mt Earnslaw.

His father, Colin Bell, of Nelson, said his son usually kept in touch via a satellite phone and always carried a locator beacon.

‘‘It is uncharacte­ristic not to have heard from him.’’

He had based himself in Wanaka for the climbing season, his father said. ‘‘Over the last five years he has climbed some 50 peaks that are on the New Zealand Alpine Club 100 peaks list.’’

‘‘Simon is an experience­d, cautious, diligent and well-equipped climber . . .’’

Simon Williamson, Wellington section chairman of the Alpine Club, said if anyone had the skills to look after themselves, it was Bell.

‘‘He is a skilful, strong and experience­d climber.’’

His car was found at Muddy Creek, the main car park and entry to Mt Aspiring National Park via the Rees Valley. Searchers went helicopter­s yesterday.

In 2013, Bell and fellow climber Vaughan Snowdon were credited with helping save the life of Heather Rhodes, who was climbing with them when she fell 300 metres on the Cameron Glacier in the Arrowsmith Range.

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