Two snowboarders triggered an avalanche outside of the Remarkables Ski Field near Queensland, NZ this week. The boarders were preparing to ride Telex Chute above Lake Alta when the slide occurred and carried them 130 meters (427 feet), dumping them on the frozen lake.
The two riders have experience in the backcountry, had all the right gear, and followed protocol, digging a pit to check the snowpack before venturing to the chute. The snow base in the ski area was around 70-80 cm (27.5-31.5 in) from May storms with another 44 cm (17 in) falling this week. An extra meter of snow lies in some areas due to wind and slope aspects.
The next day, skiers triggered another avalanche in the Doolans area on the other side of the ski field. The slide was set off by a single skier, who managed to stay ahead of it to the bottom and make it out safely.
The Remarkables staff cannot advise the 5-20 people entering the backcountry each day on the snow conditions and avalanche danger. However, the Mountain Safety Council are advising avalanche risk at a rating of 3 out of 5 in Queenstown, Wanaka, and Taranaki.
Have the right gear, know the signs of varying snow conditions, be aware of your surroundings- be prepared to stay safe in the backcountry!