The body of what is believed to be a 23-year-old missing backcountry skier from Canberra was retrieved this Tuesday, September 6th morning. The body is yet to be formally identified, but police believe it to be that of Andrew Seton, who went backcountry skiing on his own on September 3rd and had been missing for three nights.
Andrew had been reported missing in the backcountry of Australia’s Snowy Mountains on Sunday after he had not returned from a backcountry trip he had set out on Saturday morning. Friends and relatives grew concerned as it was unusual for him not to contact them and alerted the police on Sunday. Friends described Andrew as an experienced backcountry skier and he had stayed backcountry overnight before, so everyone hoped that he was somewhere remote and just unable to make contact.
Mr. Seton had set off from Guthega, part of the Perisher resort, on Saturday, September 3rd, in the morning and was last seen around 10 am by other backcountry skiers near Watsons Crags. They confirmed that he had been traveling alone. The Crags are Australia’s most challenging backcountry area with steep chutes, drops, and rocks.
The police started an initial search and Andrew’s car was located Sunday evening where he had left it on Saturday morning in the Guthega car park. The authorities left messages on his car, asking him to contact them if he returned that evening to his car.
On Monday morning, after no update from Andrew or his friends and family, a 30-man search was initiated by land and air. Search groups across various divisions were called out to establish the search team, including the Alpine Operations Unit, State Emergency Service, and National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A Police helicopter spotted something on Monday afternoon but did not announce it until his body was retrieved on Tuesday and made a formal announcement at 2 pm. Visibility on Monday was poor, and the terrain Andrew was found in was steep and hard to reach. The Police helicopter could not land or use winching capabilities. The helicopter returned Tuesday, as conditions were clear and allowed for specialist alpine rescue officers to be winched down.
The Watsons Crags are a dangerous backcountry area and are incredibly icy at the moment. The NSW police would like to remind backcountry skiers to lodge a Trip Intention Form with National Parks and to not venture into the backcountry on their own. Personal Locator Beacons can be obtained for free against a refundable deposit from 13 National Park locations.