Police warn of ‘back country’ dangers
ONE year after two other men were rescued and two snowboarders lost their lives, local police are reminding skiers and snowboarders to take extreme care when heading out into back country.
Weather in the high country can change in an instant and Bright police senior sergeant Doug Incoll said the one year anniversary of two searches on Mt Bogong was a timely reminder for people to take care in back country terrain.
“The weather can change in an instant at this time of year, and although the two snowboarders who died did everything right, nature is a powerful force,” he said.
“It was an extremely unfortunate incident, but it is a timely reminder for people who are thinking about heading into extreme back country terrain.”
Snr Sgt Incoll urged back country skiers, snowboarders and walkers to make sure they are carrying all of the appropriate equipment, including epirbs and back up mobile phone batteries.
“On these mountains, the weather conditions can change very quickly and sometimes unexpectedly – people need to be prepared for the worst,” he said.
“Correct equipment should be carried, including an epirb, a smartphone and back up battery, GPS, enough food for their trip and changes of dry clothes.
“If people are camping in the snow, they need to make sure they have the correct sleeping equipment that is suitable for the conditions.”
Should bad weather roll in, Snr Sgt Incoll said people should be prepared to change their plans.
“Depending on the environment they may be in people should be open to changing their plans if the weather changes for the worse,” he said.
“We are hoping people will use common sense and give rational thought to whether they should continue or give it a miss.”
Winds can reach speeds of up to 130km/h and temperatures can drop to -16 degrees celsius in the Alpine areas, and Snr Sgt Incoll said searches in back country terrain also put service personnel in the line of danger.
“Back country skiing and snowboarding is becoming a more and more popular pur- suit, and there will be more incidents of some kind as a direct proportion of the number of people going out,” he said.
“If people get lost, become stranded or ill, the Alpine Search and Rescue team will do whatever they can to find them, but it can put them in a dangerous position.
“Search members need to have a serious level of fitness, both mental and physical and spend quite a lot of time training in the terrain and environment of somewhere like Mt Bogong.
“Our message is, think it through – it can go pear shaped in an instant and time is critical if something does go wrong up there.
“In winter we don’t have the luxury of time like we would in the warmer months – it could be a matter of half-an-hour.”