The summer of 1978-1979 was a particularly bad one for alpine climbing in New Zealand.
Mount Aspiring, around 100 kilometres north of Queenstown, was subject to the same inclement weather which foiled outdoor plans across all main alpine areas in NZ that year.
It was here Canberra climbers Marc Weinstein and Terry Jordan had their last adventure together, presumably caught in an avalanche while attempting to summit Mt Aspiring's Coxcomb Ridge.
More than 40 years after Mr Weinstein's body was recovered from the area, a member for the Wanaka rock climbing community came across remains believed to be Mr Jordan.
On March 19, police recovered human remains from the Bonar Glacier, one of three glacial systems Mt Aspiring lies at the junction of. Formal identification is under way.
Speaking to The Canberra Times this week, Mr Weinstein's family said they'd had time to grieve and respected Mr Jordan's wife Anne Jordan-Gibbs' need to do the same. Ms Jordan-Gibbs did not respond to requests to share her story.
How it happened
Mr Weinstein, 23, and Mr Jordan, 30, belonged to the Canberra Bushwalking Club at the time of their deaths. Both affiliates of the Australian National University, one a librarian and the other a student, they had climbed with the mountaineering club throughout NSW and Victoria.
The 1978 expedition would be Mr Weinstein's second trip to NZ, but with limited alpine experience they'd enlisted instruction from Geoff Wyatt, the go-to trainer in the Mt Aspiring region at the time.
On Sunday, December 3, the pair stopped at Mr Wyatt's house to drop off belongings they wouldn't need for their climb, before hitching a ride to Cameron Flat campsite to begin their ascent.
Before departing, they left a message with Birrell Wyatt that they'd see Mr Wyatt on the mountain during the week.
The day before they set out, Mr Weinstein wrote in a journal found inside his backpack that they'd eaten eggs and bacon with the Wyatts after recording their return from the mountain at the ranger's hut.
Hut notes from that day showed a dramatic change in weather, with heavy snow at 5am, a window for climbing from 7am and then heavy snow again between 3-4pm. They wrote they intended to be back down on December 13.
Mr Weinstein and Mr Jordan had been climbing amid those conditions for a week when they set off for Popes Nose, a 50 metre ascent with a reputation for offering some of the hardest alpine climbs in the country.
On December 11, Mr Wyatt arrived at French Ridge Hut, expecting to see the pair. Backpackers said he'd missed them by a day.
After walking to Colin Todd Hut, Mr Wyatt returned to French Ridge Hut on December 13 to find the pair still absent. He reported them as missing two days later.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force flew in personnel from the Wanaka region to commence a search and rescue operation.
On December 17, Mr Weinstein's father, David, and stepbrother, Ramsey, were informed by a police officer at their house in Parkdale the body of their loved one had been found.
The Canberra Times reported that week avalanche debris was found in the vicinity of the body.
Park rangers were quoted as saying the glacier on the south side of the peak was heavily crevassed at that time of year and prone to avalanches.
Close friend Stephen Pincus said the news sent a shiver to his Canberra friends in the 1970s who'd known him as "Merg" - aka "the Mergatron".
"The hope was, if anyone could get out of it it'd be Merg, he was a fairly remarkable person," Mr Pincus said.
"Unfortunately it was fatalistic."
NZ alpine expert Tom Harris said the country had a similar avalanche fatality rate per population as Canada, the United States and Europe.
He said three components had to come together to create an avalanche: the right weather, right terrain and the right snow.
Mr Harris said avalanches were frequent on Mt Aspiring. He said the average back country adventurer had a much better awareness of when they were likely to occur.
"They're much more likely to be looking at the forecast now. One, because they're aware of it and two, because it's much better and the way to access it is much easier and simpler than it would've been in the past," he said.
Mr Harris said glaciers formed cracks and crevasses, which were largely covered by snow in winter.
Mr Harris said crevasses were typically widest at their surface, meaning it was possible for people to fall and get trapped. He said some crevasses were so deep recovery efforts were not possible until the ice melted.
Becoming an explorer
Marc's parents Saryl and David Weinstein brought him up in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Some of his first adventures were family camping trips in Yosemite National Park.
At 17 he moved to Australia with his dad, stepmother Barbara and stepbrother Ramsey.
As an 18-year-old he left his family in Victoria to move up to Canberra, where the keen skier worked for Paddy Pallin's ski rental.
His stepbrother Ramsey Dickenson said he would sometimes row a kayak across Lake Burley Griffin to go to work.
Eight years his junior, Mr Dickenson said his brother was an entrepreneur, making and selling outdoor equipment from the bedroom of his share house in Red Hill.
He said his mum and stepbrother had been close and the night they were told he was missing was one of the first times he'd seen her cry.
"I always looked up to Marc. I said, 'Marc will be able to find a way out' and she looked at me and said, 'No Ramsey, the way he said it, he won't be found alive'," Mr Dickenson said.
Mr Dickenson said his brother was an environmentalist and a Beatles fan who looked a bit like a six-foot-one John Lennon.
"He told his friends when he died he didn't want to be buried because he didn't want to take up too much space," Mr Dickenson said.
After the accident, Mr Dickenson drove to Canberra with his stepdad and his mum to meet the people Mr Weinstein had grown close to in his last years.
Together they drove to the Brindabellas where Weinstein senior, 95 this year, scattered Mr Weinstein's ashes above the surface instead of burying them underground so he would be free.
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