Searchers found snowboard tracks leading in and out of an avalanche near The Remarkables ski area in New Zealand, but search crews and avalanche dogs found no-one trapped under the snow, reports Stuff.
A bus driver spotted and reported the avalanche which was reported to be one ridge over from The Remarkables Ski Field. The slide was 500-feet and 3-feet deep.
A team of specialist avalanche dogs were flown in and deployed to Scarpa Run about two hours later to sweep the area for evidence of people caught up in the avalanche – no traces were found. Ski area manager Ross Lawrence said the Remarkables ski patrol had already searched the area and were confident no-one was caught up but flew the dogs in just to be sure.
“However, to make sure, we flew in a dogs team to do a final search. After two sweeps they also found no trace of anyone,” Mr Lawrence said. “Whilst we are thankful no-one has been affected today, it’s a timely reminder for anyone who skis or snowboards outside of the ski area boundary, that they need to be aware of the risk of avalanches and to make sure they always take the right equipment with them, including a transponder.”
The Avalanche Advisory has an alert in place for dangerous avalanche conditions in high alpine areas around Queenstown, lowering to a heightened risk between 1800 and 1200m. Multiple storm fronts have brought low falling snow, increasing the risk of avalanches in alpine areas, leading to dangerous conditions.
“Our message really is that if you’re going to head out into the backcountry, it’s really not a time for novices to be heading in. You certainly want to be pretty experienced and able to respond to the challenges out there. If you are looking to get out and have a ski, maybe staying inside a ski field would be the best option at this point,” a spokeman said.
A patroller saw a natural avalanche large enough to take out a house in the Shadow Basin area of the skifield before the skifield opened on Wednesday morning.