Ipswich climber's death was a 'tragic and unexpected accident'

Andy Hansler

An inquest was held into the death of Andy Hansler, who died during a climb in January this year. - Credit: THE HANSLER FAMILY/CAROLINE MERRIMAN

A much loved and experienced climber who fell to his death in the Lake District died accidentally, an inquest has found.

Andrew Hansler, 54, was leading a group of four climbers from Ipswich Mountaineering Club ascending Raven Crag, near Ambleside on January 21, 2022.

The inquest heard his companions suddenly witnessed the civil servant "rolling like a log" for three or four seconds before falling over a ridge, coming to a stop close to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, around 300 metres away from where he fell.

Andy Hansler

Andy Hansler was leading a group ascending Raven Crag. - Credit: THE HANSLER FAMILY/CAROLINE MERRIMAN

Norman Smith, who was part of the group, said he had known and climbed with Mr Hansler for around 20 years as a member of the club and described him as "always a responsible person, experienced on many types of terrain, with or without ropes."

His fellow climber Andrew Kerrison, who was directly behind Mr Hansler, from Bury St Edmunds, said in a statement to the court that the incident occurred at around 10.55am.

The coroner's court at Cockermouth heard the scene was attended by Great North Air Ambulance and Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team, but Mr Hansler was pronounced dead at 11.38am.

Mr Kerrison said that they were all in good spirits with no health complaints and around 800 feet up the mountain on mixed solid and loose terrain with no real path when the group was making its way to their next scramble.

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Mr Hansler was using his hands to steady his progress and called: "Watch out for this rock, it's loose."

Mr Kerrison's statement then said: "I noticed the rock Andy had pointed out and looked down.

"Suddenly I looked up and noticed he'd fallen."

Andy Hansler

An inquest was held into the death of Andy Hansler in Cockermouth - Credit: THE HANSLER FAMILY/CAROLINE MERRIMAN

Mr Hansler's long-time partner Caroline Merriman said he was the youngest of five siblings and got on well with all of his family and friends but struggled around to come to terms with his mother and brother dying very close to each other around eight years ago.

He loved Star Wars, history, animals, cycling doing ironman competitions all over the world, was a keen artist, and loved making model tanks.

She recalls that before the fateful trip to Cumbria on Monday, January 17, he was at the gym and started feeling dizzy, and unsafe to drive. 

She said: "On Thursday, January 20, at 6.50pm, Andy texted: 'Almost didn't come on the trip as I was feeling very nervous. Feel better now'.

"This was odd to me as I didn't understand why he was feeling nervous about something he wanted to do, especially as he had done it so many times before. 

"I have seen some pictures which were taken just before Andy fell and I think he looked really tired and not like himself. 

"The guys he was with said he seemed in good spirits but he might have just not wanted to let them down by telling them something was wrong. 

"He loved me and we had so many adventures to do together. He was not ready to go."

Dr Sissons, who carried out the postmortem, offered a cause of death of traumatic brain injury.

In her conclusion, area coroner for Cumbria Kirsty Gomersall, said: "In my judgement the most appropriate conclusion for me to reach would be one of accidental death.

"These events all have the elements of a tragic and unexpected accident."

In a tribute following his death Mr Hansler's family described the Ipswich Mountaineering Club member as "brave, intelligent and caring".