NZ Tramper


Tongariro gossip

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  • Has anyone seen any gossip on what actually *happened* on Ngauruhoe on Saturday? I've seen a couple of near-identical good news stories about these guys, each with a triumphant photo of the group smiling in front of the rescue helicopter. But it reads as if 5 people came down from Auckland, tried to bite off much more than they could chew, and got themselves into a seriously deadly trap at which point they were very lucky to get out alive. I'm struggling to see what's so different from 2 weeks before when 16 people came down from Auckland to start from the same road-end, tried to bite off more than they could chew, and got themselves into a seriously deadly trap at which point they were very lucky to get out alive. The only difference I can see is that the first case included the involvement of a bus driver which police and media decided to heavily launch into and assign blame, and apparently it was all the bus driver's fault, or you'd think so. No such luck with this second such incident in the space of 15 days. There's nobody else to blame, so all we get is good news.
  • yeah these guys misread the forecast, they had enogh time to get down from tongariro but instead headed up, ran out of daylight, and needed bailing. another difference is it was a speedy elicopter rescue, but also in the tvnz coverage they were used for publicity on how they reaalise they got it wrong and how greatful they are, so maybe it was a tradeoff in actng nice to them and getting them to admit in public how things can go wrong..
  • it was the police who started the demonising of the shuttle company in the last incident, initially they got the wrong company.... it doesnt outline how these chaps were transported to the track, but if there was a company involved no one is saying in this instance.... but this time the one person commenting on their actions puts the blame more on the shoulders of the tourists themselves for insisting on going on the crossing in bad conditions seems that renaming the crossing to Alpine after the last death on the crossing hasnt been totally successful in stopping people putting themselves at risk, a lot of people think of ski resorts when they see the word "alpine" perhaps the word "National Park" conjures up the wrong image for these people as well. like some of the american national parks in summer.... problem is if you've never been caught out in bad weater in alpine conditions with no quick escape it's hard to convey to people how dangerous it is... hte shuttle companies are taking money from the walkers, i think they have a responsibility to not take people who dont have storm gear. they are happy to advertise to and take the general public. theres beeen a trend for storms to be harsher as the years have gone on, with stronger winds, despite global warming there are still plenty of days where the cold can kill an ill equipped person. there will be a greater frequency of rescues and deaths if the tourist operators don't tighten up on when and who they take up the mountain. they are happy to let people go in summer clothes, jandals and carrying only lunch and a drink in supermarket bags... people will do any activity no matter how dangerous if it's being marketed.
  • Thanks, waynowski. I came across the TVNZ story earlier today (might've been from your facebook group), and there's much more info in that. Someone also wrote a comment on my blog from a backpacker perspective that they thought the 'Alpine' tag could often be having the opposite effect from that intended, so you might have something there. (That was this comment -- ) I sort of agree that drop-off operators can act irresponsibly and it might be that there was some of that here, but I'm very reserved about treating that as a primary cause of the accident. To me it doesn't add up to blame a shuttle driver so extensively for messing up a weather forecast as if they were entirely responsible for the group having gone in the first place, when I think that's really only a small part of the problem. Drivers can try to dissuade people from going or refuse to take them outright, but it won't solve the problem as long as people can find their own transport anyway and have no advice at all. Then, blaming drivers who have nothing to do with a group or an way to be responsible for the decisions it makes after they've waved goodbye, is just a band-aid application and not a very good one IMHO. Even though I'm sure there's good intent, the "arrangement" that other operators have of refusing to officially operate if winds are forecast over a certain level is just an imperfect mechanism to be able to shunt blame to the met-service if there's a tragedy. (Yes they died but it's not our fault. We rely on the forecast and it was very wrong!) It's also just going to be annoying for people who actually are prepared, and as a friend of mine pointed out, what if a shuttle company had refused to drop off the two guys who rescued the group two weeks ago? There's a complete conflict of interests going on, and I'd bet that any one of those commercial operators would drop off a group in jeans and t-shirts and no decent raincoats if they were convinced that the weather was going to be good for the day. At the very least they might not ask questions if they convinced themselves a group would probably be okay, but it really can't be up to them to judge a group anyway. Meanwhile there's a much, much bigger problem with the entire tourism machine that's making visitors to really want to go, even if they're fundamentally not able to be truly responsible for themselves, make effective decisions for themselves in the circumstances, or appreciate what they could be getting into. I guess my gripe with the most recent incident is with the DomPost especially, which (a week ago) dedicated an editorial to stating that the particular commercial shuttle operator was at fault, and ignoring that there's a bigger issue with people neglecting responsibility for themselves, even if that's because our industry is flawed. Yet with *this* rescue, where it's tough to say it's anyone's but their own fault, there's barely an acknowledgement except a report of a close call and a bunch of happy people. As well as I can tell, the paper doesn't even realise that the two incidents occurred in so near the same place. In my mind the primary cause of both of them was groups of people entering Tongariro National Park without adequate preparation, and nearly creating a serious tragedy because of it. The operator thing's just a distraction.
  • As it happens, I was there on Saturday and we were planning to do the Tongariro crossing but in the end decided to head round to the desert rd access and walk up to Waihohonu Hut area. More as an assessment of parties fitness and lack of daylight hours, with expectation of weather eventually closing in from the west. The weather wasn't actually bad early on, very occasional low cloud but infrequent. There was an obvious dusting of snow on South side of Ngauruhoe but none on the north side. The crossing would have definitely been possible, and you can't really attribute any blame to transport operators, who most likely had no idea that these guys were going to head off track and attempt to come down south side of Ngauruhoe. The pamphlets I saw from one of the operators were quite clear on the minimum gear that you should have with you to attempt the crossing and on Sunday they had cancelled trips for that day and Monday due to bad weather.
  • I may have it wrong but I think the most recent group had always planned to go up and over Ngauruhoe and then camp near the Tama Lakes, rather than follow the Crossing route. I've no idea if they used a transport operator.
  • yeah thats how i read it, it was of their plan all along to take the route they did. its a quandry, the shuttle operators are delivering people into an environment which a lot of their passengers are ignorant of and or ill preparedd for in adverse weather... its a problem because the trip is so heavily marketed and reported on in the media. people think how hard can it be it's nowhere near like everest.... a friend of mine spoke to some canadian trampers visiting here, they had travelled a lot and said they had never felt so cold anywhere in the world as they had in new zealand,, our temperature range is often at the level where there is still a lot of humidity and that humidity accelerates heat loss from the body especially when the wind blow and or if the air can get blown in under clothes in lower temperatures the humidity will drop, and as long as your'e insulated it's not as unpleasant. unless its getting to extremely cold temps like 30 or more below we regularly get wind rain and snow in winter people are making their living by delivering people into this environment, few people want the dangers hammered all over the marketing and affecting peoples livelihoods.... doc would be better off not promoting the walk at all in some ways and the shuttle operators should be advertising alternative walks thhat arent quite as exposed. with more alternatives to choose from, people could choose something closer to their ability, part of the problem is also people not getting hit by bad weather until they are high up and we into the walk.. if people are exposed to bad weather straight away i've seem most people abort teir trips i was on the routeburn at mackenzie hut.... due to go to the falls hut. the tramp is exposed for eleven of th twelve kilometres above athousand metres. the weather was pretty bad, the wind would have been gusting around a hundred k's and it rained 300mm the rain stung my face. the guided walkers aborted, fifty people in the doc huts were scheduled to cross between the two huts that day. only three of us attempted and made the crossing, the rest didnt bother leaving their huts when they looked at the weather and got the forecast from the ranger and these people were all equipped for bad weather... i had to walk bent doubled over hanging onto the hillside in places to make progress, the head guide gfor the guided walker aparently said he couldnt stand up at ocean view corner and said the conditions were impassable for walking it wasnt all as bad as ocean view corner , i knew engough from doing the trip before to know that a minority of the trip would have severe wind as the wind swirls around in hollows in the hill and it was mainly coing around small spurs that i'd just have to tough it out to get to the quieter places. although i wasnt sure i would be able to make it to start with.... but unfortunately people get caught out unawares in exposed places and are too far removed from shelter to get themselves out of trouble quickly...
  • i think doc should limit the no's on the crossing... with up to a thousand walkers doing it in a day it detracts from the scenery. i hadnt done it for over twenty years and never on a busy day, i couldnt believe how many people were on it when i was last there. all the litter and even toilet paper you can see where the rim of red crater has a wide chanel worn in it from all the people walking past. you can only have 80 people a day allowed to start the milford track, why should you allow a thousand on the crossing?
  • I don't believe it's possible for DoC to limit numbers, for several reasons. Firstly, how does one differentiate the track from the park without locking people out of the park? Secondly, it's not really legal under current legislation which allows open public access to public land for free, with a few very hard-to-get exceptions. Personally I wouldn't want *that* to change, certainly not without extreme caution and a clear understanding and agreement of where we're going, because I see free public access to public land as a fundamental right defined in the Conservation Act. Tinkering with it opens flood-gates for locking people out of their own land all over the place. The Milford Track has no restrictions on how many people can walk it per day, unless I've misunderstood. There are restrictions on how many people can book the huts overnight, and restrictions on where people may camp. This limits numbers in practice due to the nature of how most people want to visit the Milford Track. I don't know exactly how to solve this, but I do think there would be a benefit in a serious public discussion about exactly what we're trying to achieve through the greater tourism industry with the Tongariro Crossing, and some clearer thinking about what's needed to ensure that visitors who do wish to attempt it aren't just told the info and given warnings, but actually understand them and really do take the precautions they need to take to be safe.
  • doc might be able to control how much commercial companies entering the park are dropping off trampers. thus controlling to a certain extent how many walkers do the track...
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Forum The campfire
Started by izogi
On 14 May 2012
Replies 23
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