Wellington (AFP) – A climber who dug herself out to safety after being buried by an avalanche in New Zealand said Wednesday she was “absolutely broken” by the deaths of two German guides in the accident.
Jo Morgan was climbing Mt Hicks in New Zealand’s southern alps with mountaineering guides Martin Hess and Wolfgang Maier, both German citizens.
The trio were attached to the same rope when a wall of snow collapsed, sending them crashing down the slope.
“They were buried and I was buried too, but I had my face out so I could continue to breathe,” Morgan told Television New Zealand.
She spent 45 minutes digging herself out before realising that her companions had perished in the disaster.
“I’m absolutely broken,” she said.
“Two of my very dear friends lost their lives today, under tragic circumstances. I just got really lucky.”
New Zealand Mountain Guide Association president Jane Morris told the New Zealand Herald that the German climbers had extensive experience in the southern alps.
“Martin has called New Zealand home for the last 20 years and Wolfgang would come and work from now until around February guiding New Zealand summers,” she said.
The 3,216-metre (10,551-foot) high Mt Hicks is part of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.