The Press

Storm brings warning of avalanche risk

- MADDISON NORTHCOTT

Trampers, hunters and skiers are warned to steer clear of Canterbury and Otago’s back country because of the risk of avalanche.

The New Zealand Avalanche Advisory is warning the storm has triggered a high risk of avalanches in the mountains around Mt Hutt, the Craigiebur­n Range, Mt Cook, Ohau, Two Thumbs and Wanaka.

The advisory warns that even highly experience­d mountainee­rs should not be on the mountains in such conditions. There was a ‘‘particular concern’’ for Canterbury and the danger of avalanches was heightened by the large volumes of snow pounding the region, Mountain Safety Council chief executive Mike Daisley said.

‘‘It creates a significan­t and unpredicta­ble risk to back country users.’’

Mt Hutt manager James Urquhart said 30 centimetre­s of fresh powder had fallen since midnight, and it did not look like it would ease anytime soon.

The field was forecast to receive up to 10cm an hour later in the evening, he said.

Staff would try to keep the lifts running over the coming days so they did not freeze.

‘‘She’s snowing pretty heavy. We were worried we would get a fair bit of rain but it snowed straight from the get go. The speed and velocity gave us big flakes and it just keeps building.

‘‘We’ll accept any sort of snow and it’s a great set-up for the rest of the season, but it’s a massive amount of work to get it safe for tomorrow.’’

There are strong southerly winds with snow showers at Porters Ski Area.

The southern ski fields – Cardrona, Coronet Peak and The Remarkable­s – also received a heavy blanket of white powder.

Cardrona was open yesterday and received 10cm by midday. The Remarkable­s closed mid-morning as wind and snowy weather made it too difficult to operate lifts.

Broken River Ski Area earlier posted on Facebook: ‘‘Backcountr­y avalanche hazards are high right now.’’

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