On November 3rd, 2013 at approximately 9:30am Andreas Fransson was skiing down 12,316-foot Mt. Cook in New Zealand with his good buddy and ski partner Magus Kastengren. As they began their decent, Magnus fell down the western side of Mt. Cook to his death.
This is an excerpt of Andreas Fransson’s lengthy explanation of what happened that fateful day:
“20 minutes later we were standing on the summit ridge, and 5 minutes later on the summit [of Mt. Cook]. I made a platform, we hugged, we joked, we were happy. We knew we were about to create something magic together on this day. Not magic for anyone else, and nothing of any practical importance what so ever, but something beautiful. Beautiful, that’s it – and what is more important than that anyway? Standing there on the top together was the highlight of our trip. It’s not so because what happened later – that was how I remember I felt.
I clicked in to my skis, we did a high five, I checked my bindings and I told him to do the same, like I always do.
The summit ridge was hard snow, uneven, rimy, but very flat and extremely easy to ski for anyone of our experience. In fact, it was one of the easiest things we had done on the whole trip.
I slowly skied back down to the southeast face. When I arrived at our premade platform I looked back and saw Magnus coming, slowly and easily on the ridge, side slipping about 40 meters behind me.
I looked away again and instantly heard a noise and I could not make out what it was.
A minute or so later when I had expected Magnus to be with me I turned around as to see what he was up to. I was expecting him looking at the view; sort out something in his backpack or whatever. But I couldn’t see him. Was he joking with me? There was a small notch above me and I expected him to be on the other side. Magnus didn’t come, and I quickly changed back to crampons and started walking up the ridge.
Then I saw it. His ice axe sat deep in to the snow, just a meter or two below where I had seen Magnus last. It came to me instantly. Magnus was gone. I was running now all the way up to the axe to get an indication of which direction to call in the rescue, and where to start searching for him.
His axe seemed to have been swinged in to the snow, but he must have lost his grip around it. I didn’t see any traces below, but I was guessing he had fallen down on the western side. I collected his axe and climbed down a bit on the western side. I could see a pole on a shelf a hundred meters below.
The chocking reality was coming over me and I had to gather everything I got to keep myself together. I ran over to get my pack and took out my satellite phone and called the number I asked for from the alpine rescuers. It didn’t work.
I had nothing more to do than to call home to Bjarne, my good friend, in Chamonix. It must have been a chocking call to get, but he did an amazing job. I told him where to find the numbers, our location and that I was in need of a helicopter on the western side of the middle peak of Mt Cook. Bjarne got to work, and so did I.” – Andreas Fransson
“In my world, the only thing I can Imagine have happened is that he was going down, not paying full attention as it was so easy and then one ski must have come of. He must have realized too late, tried to self-arrest with his axe, lost the grip of the axe and then accelerated in to eternity. I have no further theory.” – Andreas Fransson
To read Andreas Fransson’s full account out his trip to New Zealand with Magnus Kastengren please click below: