The death at just 59 of alpine legend Gottlieb Braun-Elwert will be greatly mourned around the Tekapo community, and much further afield too. Braun-Elwert was one of those Europeans who came here and found our great outdoors intoxicating. He arrived in his 20s on a hitch-hiking tour, fell in love with the country’s natural splendour, and so made New Zealand his home. Some years ago Helen Clark was a client of his very successful alpine adventure company, and the two developed a close friendship. Clark’s love of the great Kiwi outdoors saw her head south annually, to ski and climb in Braun-Elwert’s alpine ‘backyard’. The locals certainly appreciated her frequent visits and support of a local venture. A family friend told TVNZ News today that Elwert-Braun and Clark shared a love of the outdoors, and had similar interests and principles. The efforts of the PM and her companions in trying to save the mountain guide’s life yesterday are being strongly appreciated. Tekapo Police have paid tribute to the extremely good job the stricken party did, and a Search and Rescue spokesman said the experience had shown the PM to be a ‘remarkable woman’. Despite what her jaundiced critics say, Clark has long demonstrated a commitment to this country and what it has to offer. Her regular visits to the Tekapo backcountry, and other wilderness areas, underline that.