Avalanche risk 2018

  • Earlier thread highlighted majority cause of NZ tramping fatallities July 2007-June 2017 was avalanche/icefall. Present day story of 2 snowboarders swept 130m onto a frozen lake - ""(the Manager of Remarkables ski field) wrote that the avalanche was released remotely in an adjacent slope from the weight of a single skier on his group's chosen slope."" https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/snow/105083135/back-country-avalanche-dumps-terrified-snowboarders-on-frozen-lake ""Mountain Safety Council communications manager Nick Kingstone said the avalanche advisory was rating the risk of avalanche in Queenstown, Wanaka and Taranaki as "considerable", or a 3 out of 5. "Choose your terrain carefully, avoid slopes that lead to a confined terrain trap. Be cautious of hidden hazards under a thin coverage of snow, especially lower elevations," the advisory says."" It was reported on avalanche.net.nz
  • Yeah, they were pretty lucky. A couple of weeks ago after that first snowfall it might have been possible to go through the Routeburn or up to Conical Hll in the snow, now it's looking pretty scary and will probably remain so with a thick wind slab layer on top of that first snowfall of the winter producing some deeply buried and extremely nasty traps. Think I'll be staying on the mountain bike, kayak, valley tramping for the rest of the winter down here. (Says the man with a picture of himself on Conical Hill in the middle of winter with lightweight boots and a broomstick for alpine equipment...) After fatalities pretty much every winter for a few years, no one died trying to do the Kepler, Milford or Routeburn last winter, hope that stays the same this year. https://avalanche.net.nz/region/10
    This post has been edited by the author on 29 June 2018 at 10:03.
  • Are the Avalanche.net.nz warnings reasonable and reality-based, or are they hysterical, overblown, and liability-based like many of DOC's warnings?
  • htey are very very real. they are based on technical assessments from people who are qualified to make those assessments, ignore them at your peril..
  • >Are the Avalanche.net.nz warnings reasonable and reality-based, or are they hysterical, overblown, and liability-based like many of DOC's warnings? Avalanche.net.nz is the Mountain Safety Council, nothing to do with DOC directly AFAIK. I find the information Avalanche.net provide very much reasonable and reality based. I looked at their assessment a few weeks ago when I was thinking of a quick trip up to Conical Hill. There had been a pretty good dump of snow a week or so before and keeping an eye on the weather since then I felt it would have stabilised quite nicely and possibly be worth a look. Avalanche.net didn't have anything up about this area, but the Mt Cook area was saying it was low risk with comments that backed up my assessment. In the end other family things came up and I didn't go. First good snow stabilising and staying for a week or two then another good dump with wind and there will be areas with a metre thick of windslab on top of the previous hard base. That's what we've got, that's what the avalanche.net has posted and that's what these folk copped above Lake Alta the other day. Regarding your characterisation of DOC's warnings as 'hysterical, overblown, and liability-based', I'm not sure I agree. I know people at those DOC offices who have had grillings by lawyers at coroners enquiries, giving advice to strangers of doubtful competence is extremely difficult. The trick is to go into a DOC office dressed the part - bare feet, short shorts, stripey and holey polypros from the '80s and a wooly hat with earflaps. Extra points for an old Taita College uniform wool jersey. Show you understand what 'Moirs' refers to and you get reasonable advice. Wear Jack Wolfskin or Mont Bell trousers, matching soft-shell jacket and a shiny pair of boots or walking shoes and you'll get quite different advice. I phoned the DOC office in Haast the other day looking for advice regarding Haast-Cascade-Gorge River-Hollyford in Winter and got excellent advice. I remember seeing someone from Europe asking at the Queenstown DOC about more or less the same thing in reverse, the DOC staff were trying to put him off as much as possible. Justifiably, I think, when I spoke to him he couldn't get his head around the idea that getting his feet wet would be unavoidable and that he'd need to be prepared to sit in the rain in whatever shelter he had on the wrong side of a flooded river for as long as it took, food or no food. (Sorry for wandering, another topic possibly?)
  • So swany and shorts and you get the truth? Park the hilux out front
  • unless you're doing a great walk and you'll be treated like a muppet regardless
  • I've encountered hyperbole in the DoC office assessments and then again I've encountered disregard for the actual perilous conditions which resulted in someone drowning when attempting a crossing of the Otira,a few days after we'd spent an hour looking for a safe place to ford (which we eventually did).
  • I have found that unless the DOC staff know you or have heard of you that they are very conservative with their advice especially when dealing with tourists. I guess it is partly butt covering but also protecting some people from themselves. I had a chuckle late one afternoon recently when calling in to a DOC office (not Hoki) overhearing a staff member address a solo female tourist saying a particular track could not be walked in under 5hrs to reach a certain hut and that at this time of year it could not be day tripped in daylight hours, that there was bad windthrow, deep river crossings slips, etc. It was all a bit of an exaggeration! In the the past I had walked to this hut in under 3hrs and the following day I day tripped to beyond the hut and back in 8hrs guiding the fobbed off tourist from the day before. [Coincidentally I had bumped in to her after the DOC visit at the same backpackers hostel I was staying at. I wonder what she thinks of DOC advice post our walk. She told me that she had explained to the person at the DOC reception she was an experienced tramper and climber and had recently completed the TA Trail so was fit ]
    This post has been edited by the author on 2 July 2018 at 12:55.
  • too many muppets for doc to sift out... easier to be conservative i had to argue to pick up my hut tickets once because bad weather was coming and they wanted to hold everyone until they'd decided on the morning if they'd let people go on the track and had spoken to all the walkers... i had to argue for a bit told the DOC lady i could risk assess, been there before in all weather and eventually got the ticket.. but i dont think anyone else did until the following day.
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Forum The campfire
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On 29 June 2018
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