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Two Canberra region men die in NZ climbing accident

Ian Bushnell 8 November 2019
The Remarkables, New Zealand

The Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown on NZ’s South Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Two men from the Canberra region, including a well-known builder, have died in a climbing accident on a mountain range on the South Island of New Zealand.

Canberra builder Brett Alexander Lentfer, 62, and James Harry Spaile, 44, from Jerrabomberra fell from a cliff in The Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown on Wednesday.

Police said the pair were found close together on Wednesday but Mr Lentfer’s body was not recovered until Thursday morning due to risky conditions on the mountain.

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said Mr Lentfer was a highly regarded leader in the local construction industry.

“Brett will be sadly missed by everyone in the local construction industry,” Mr Hopkins said.

A rescuer quoted by New Zealand news site stuff.co.nz said the men fell 300 metres after their rope was cut on a sharp rock.

The men were reportedly climbing with a guide from Aspiring Guides.

“Aspiring Guides is deeply saddened to confirm that two clients have died following a tragic climbing accident in the Remarkables,” the company said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“We are devastated and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

“Our thanks to Emergency Services and the Wanaka and Wakatipu Alpine Cliff Rescue team for their quick response and assistance.

“We have also been humbled by the many messages of support from the NZ Mountain and Guiding Community.”

Aspiring Guides director Vickie Sullivan told stuff.co.nz that it was working with police and the NZ Mountain Guides Association to investigate the incident, as well as conducting an internal review.

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