The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is saddened by the death of one of its most respected expeditioners Dave Gardner in yesterday’s avalanche at Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand.

Acting director Kim Pitt said that Mr Gardner’s death had come as a great shock to his many friends and colleagues at the AAD.

“Dave joined the AAD in 1999 as a field training officer (FTO) and guide and played a pivotal role in the preparation, training and support in the field for some of our most challenging expeditions. These included Heard Island in 1999 and last season’s ambitious, successful and collaborative geological project between Germany and Australia to the Prince Charles Mountains, 500km south of Australia’s Mawson station in Antarctica. He was also the station-based FTO at Casey and Mawson during 2001/02.

“Dave graduated in geology from the University of Tasmania and worked as an exploration geologist throughout Australia and in Peru. His expertise was a distinct advantage in the assistance he was able to provide to project leaders in the Prince Charles Mountains.”

Mr Pitt said that Mr Gardner was passionate about outdoor education, guiding and team leadership training and was always eager to share his knowledge. He has made a lasting contribution to the development of standards in training in outdoor pursuits throughout Tasmania in his roles as executive officer with the Tasmanian Outdoor Leadership Council, as coordinator of outdoor guides training with TAFE Tasmania, his involvement with the Tasmanian Climbing Instructors’ Association and other roles.

“Dave Gardner was never one to rest on his laurels but constantly strove to improve his training qualifications, which is why he decided to move to New Zealand earlier this year. He was pursuing a guiding career in mountaineering.

“Dave was an experienced mountaineer with many climbs under his belt in the United States, South America, the Himalayas and the Alps.

“This terrible accident has shocked Dave’s friends and former colleagues at the AAD and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family. He will be remembered by our expeditioners for his keen sense of humour, his sensitivity to the needs of others and his competence and inspiration as a leader. Dave will be greatly missed by us all.”