German Tolkien fan dies visiting 'Hobbit' mountain
A German amateur mountain climber and J.R.R. Tolkien fan was killed climbing a New Zealand mountain used as a set in Peter Jackson's new hit film The Hobbit, it was reported Thursday.
The 38-year-old Frank S. fell 200 metres to his death in Mount Aspiring National Park on the country's southern island, the Bild newspaper reported.
The Google-employed software developer from Munich had set off on the tour of New Zealand on November 29, and written about his twin passions of J.R.R. Tolkien and mountain climbing on his homepage.
Ascents with experienced mountain climbers were on offer for €2,500, but Frank S. reportedly attempted to conquer the park's Cascade Saddle route on his own.
A friend reported him missing on December 23, and his body was discovered by a rescue helicopter on Christmas Day. Rescue workers believe he slipped on snow on the mountain and fell to his death.
''This steep and challenging 'poled' route over the Cascade Saddle is an alpine environment which requires a high level of risk and in turn a high level of skill," Mike Johnston of Wanaka police station, in southwestern New Zealand commented. "This route should not be attempted unless key factors have been evaluated, such as, fitness, alpine experience, weather, and equipment. Falling in this slippery and steep terrain is unforgiving'.'
Police expressed their sympathy to the family and friends, who were receiving the news of the tourist's death at Christmas.