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New Zealand Climber Dies in Trad Fall

Paul Corridon, an experienced climber, hadn't placed any protection before he slipped and hit the ground

Paul Corridon is airlifted to hospital

Paul Corridon, who police say was in his 70s, died after falling 10 metres to the ground off a trad climb in Christchurch’s Port Hills. Corridon, a highly experienced climber, hadn’t placed any protection when he slipped off the route.

It was an “error of judgement” that came despite his “vast experience”, friends say. Corridon, a climbing co-ordinator and member of the local branch of the New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC), was climbing a route on Rapaki Rock on Sunday when the accident happened.

He was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter but died a short while later, police said. He had been climbing with four other friends when the accident happened.

Clayton Garbes, an instruction co-ordinator at the Canterbury and Westland branch of the Alpine Club, said: “Paul was leading a climb and for unknown reasons had not placed any protection when he slipped and fell up to 10m.

“Paul was a vastly experienced climber (traditional and ice) and an error of judgement has resulted in this accident. We will all miss Paul enormously as he was such a likeable and approachable person who welcomed all abilities into our climbing group.

“If anything is to be learnt from this tragic and avoidable accident it is to always climb safe and think of yourself and climbing friends when doing so.”

Corridon leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Originally from the United States, Corridon moved to New Zealand a few years ago.

NZAC general manager Karen Leacock said the accident had “devastated” the climbing community. “I didn’t know him personally but I knew he was an integral member of the Canterbury and Westland committee and at the heart of the climbing community.

“I’ve had a lot of emails and phone calls today and there are a lot of very upset people. He is going to be very much missed by the community.”

Emergency response at Rapaki Rock