New Zealand Alpine Club committed to improved trip leader framework following release of Coroner’s report

Emma Langley passed away of hypothermia on 26 September 2020 following a fall while mountaineering on the Whangaehu Glacier, Coroner Bates has ruled. Emma was part of a New Zealand Alpine Club trip intended for beginner snowcraft course graduates to gain experience.

Emma was a well-liked and capable member of the outdoors community in Wellington and involved with several clubs in the region. Although fairly new to New Zealand’s mountains, she had a deep appreciation of the special experience of being up high and was intent on gaining the necessary skills and experience to become an active mountaineer.

The Club offers beginner snowcraft courses throughout the country, utilising keen volunteer instructors. These instructors are experienced climbers and receive training to deliver this instruction. Volunteers also lead trips for the Club, where members head out to enjoy a day in the hills together.

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The Club accepts the Coroner’s findings and is reviewing the recommendations in order to make improvements to systems and training. Several recommendations are related to the fact that there is no specific training for trip leaders. Currently, different regions provide differing levels of training and support. The Club intends to extend its programme, including in outdoor first aid, to ensure there is a broad framework available to support leaders as well as instructors in all regions. This will include both training and resources, as recommended by Coroner Bates.

The Club’s General Manager, Karen Leacock, says “We are really sad that this accident has happened. The Club has helped hundreds of people gain skills and experience to safely enjoy the mountains over the years. As we move forward, we must honour the learnings of that day in September to ensure that we improve and continue to support people on their learning journey in the mountains.”

The Club would like to thank the LandSAR volunteers and Police for their efforts in the emergency response.

The New Zealand Alpine Club extends its condolences to Emma’s family and friends.