This is just one of the stories in Simon’s Trips, a book honouring the life of NZ mountaineer, Simon Bell.

After his disappearance on Pikirakatahi/Mt Earnslaw in January 2015, his parents, Colin and Jeni Bell, compiled the book from Simon’s accounts and photos. Lorraine Johns, Rob Hawes, the late Steve Dowall and other friends also contributed stories of tramping or climbing trips they made with Simon.

Simon’s Trips was originally a gift to his family and friends but was later made available in return for a donation to the FMC Mountain and Forest Trust. These donations paid the majority of the costs of digitizing FMC’s publication ‘Safety in the Mountains’ (available here as the ‘Manual’) and establishing the Wilderlife website. Simon’s estate contributed the balance.

We will be regularly re-publishing a number of stories from Simon’s Trips here on Wilderlife. If you would like the complete PDF, Simon’s Trips may be downloaded here, and a donation made here.

Simon Bell’s Presentation to Transpower: DECEMBER 2011

Safety in the mountains is no joke! It often comes down to judgment and experience. Before going into the mountains, consider the following questions:

1. Should this man be using a rope?

  • Solid rock but huge exposure, a fall probably fatal.
  • We were happy to solo this unroped.
Rob Hawes on Mt Haast (below)


2. Should this woman be climbing unroped?

  • Solid 55-60 degree snow with ice crust but huge exposure, fall probably fatal.
  • Everyone ‘reasonably’ happy to solo this.
Lisa Wynne on Mt Haidinger (below)


3. Rob Hawes is using a rope. But what happens if he falls?

  • Still could fall 100m or more and will get bashed up on rocks.
  • Would probably need a helicopter out.
Rob Hawes on Mt Dixon (below)


4. This is me (Simon Bell) rock climbing in Australia in October. I’ve placed gear, but there’s still a long way to fall.

  • Will the gear hold?
  • Did I place it right?
  • You need to have confidence in your climbing skill, as well as your ability to make solid gear placements.
  • You also need confidence in your climbing partner.
Simon Bell in Australia, October 2011 (below)


5. This is a large crevasse in the Southern Alps (below).

  • Would you cross it in the late afternoon?
  • What happens if the bridge collapses?



6. Abseiling:

  • Did you make solid anchors? If not, it is a long way down!
  • Would you trust someone else to make the anchor or would you double check?
Simon Bell abseiling on climb of Rolling Pin (below)


We will be regularly re-publishing a number of stories from Simon’s Trips here on Wilderlife. If you would like the complete PDF, Simon’s Trips may be downloaded here and a donation made here.