Last week’s powerful winter storm in New Zealand left over 9 feet of new snow at Mt. Hutt ski resort. The resort has been closed since last Wednesday due to high avalanche danger, high winds, and ridiculous amounts of new snow.
When the weather finally cleared yesterday, crews dropped bombs on the resort from helicopters to release avalanches and make the resort safe for dig out operations. One of the avalanches caused by the heli bombing ran 2,300 vertical feet, was 700 feet wide, and 7 feet deep at the crown. This enormous avalanche flowed into the base area extensively damaging one of Mt. Hutt’s 3 chairflifts (the Towers Triple Chair) and destroyed a snowmaking pump house.
“With this volume of snow sitting in recognized avalanche-prone areas, letting explosives off in a controlled environment from a helicopter is the only way to manage this hazard safely.” – Mt. Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie
The full extent of the damage at the base area is still unknown. The place is simply buried right now. It’s going to be a while before Hutt can get the Towers Triple Chair back in action.
“The Triple Chair lift that was damaged by yesterday’s avalanche will be out of action for some time and it will be three to four weeks before the extent of the damage can be fully assessed and a time frame set for repair.” – Mt. Hutt
The access road is still covered in 18 feet of snow. Clearing the road is the biggest hurdle to getting Mt. Hutt open to the public. They’ve had to helicopter in 50 crew members to work on de-icing and digging out the resort and it’s equipment.
During the storm last week, a separate avalanche came down and ripped through the Mt. Hutt snowmaking building.
Mt Hutt has been closed since last Wednesday, is closed again today, but is scheduled to be open tomorrow, June 25th.
“We’ve received an unprecedented amount of snow in a very short period of time so while we appreciate that everyone is champing at the bit to get up here to enjoy the conditions, we will only open when it is safe to open the access road and all areas within the ski area boundary are ready to operate.” – Mt. Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie