Helen Clark's Tribute

Read by Peter Davis


Words cannot describe the sadness I feel about Gottlieb's passing.

Over thirteen adventures in the past eleven years, Gottlieb introduced Peter and me to alpine wonderlands and inspired us to take on trekking and ski touring journeys we would never have thought possible.

We are just two of the countless numbers of people whom Gottlieb, mountain guide extraordinaire, inspired over the decades.

Several years ago in Tekapo, Gottlieb hosted an evening to celebrate his forty years of mountaineering. His slide show took us from his school days and time during compulsory military training in the European Alps, through to his decades of climbing and ski touring in New Zealand. These days were complemented by his incredible ascent of Cerro Fitzroy in Patagonia, and the two tours of the Patagonian ice cap. Towards the end of his life he was also on Denali in Alaska three times.

In all these endeavours, Gottlieb had survived everything nature's elements had thrown at him. As a mountaineer, he was both bold and prudent. All the risks he took were calculated. His companions and clients were always in the best possible hands.

Yet it was qualities above and beyond these which marked Gottlieb out as a great alpine guide.

Gottlieb was a highly educated and well travelled man. He read widely and had a great general knowledge. In his own way he was a philosopher about life. He had strong values. He loved Anne and his two daughters, Elke and Carla. He made regular trips back to Germany to see his family. He was a gifted photographer. He cared passionately about the integrity of the world's ecosystems. He was a wonderful raconteur.

All these attributes made a trip with Gottlieb an experience which Peter and I looked forward to every year. We would put our pressured lives behind us and head for Tekapo; be greeted by Gottlieb and Anne in their home and enjoy a hearty meal. The next morning, we would check all our gear, and head for the hills.

That's exactly what we did last week, arriving Tuesday night, and heading up to the Rex Simpson Hut on Wednesday.

On our return to the hut on Thursday afternoon, Gottlieb collapsed and could not be revived. The only consolation we can take from his sudden and tragic death is that it occurred in the alpine environment he knew best and that he was surrounded by people who cared desperately for him.

My heart goes out to Anne, Elke, and Carla, and Gottlieb's wider family. You have lost an inspirational husband, father, and family member. Others of us here today have lost a friend, colleague, and community member. Our lives have all been enriched by the privilege of knowing Gottlieb – and our lives without him will never be the same again.

May Gottlieb rest in peace.


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