Avalanche Danger High – Multiple Reports of Skier Triggered Avalanches In Bounds

August 8th, 2018
  

Mountainwatch | Matt Wiseman

While there are many reasons to celebrate the new snow that’s blanketed the Australian resorts this week, let’s not forget the very real and deadly avalanche danger that such heavy snowfall often brings.

Our Mount Hotham reporter Bill Barker noted this morning, in his Daily Snow Report that, “there were several reports of skier triggered avalanches yesterday, and the weak layer that produced these still exists today, only now it’s buried deeper in the snowpack which will result in larger avalanches!”

Mountain Sports Collective, Australia’s foremost avalanche advisory site has the avalanche danger rating at HIGH today, meaning not only is travel in avalanche terrain not recommended, but natural avalanches are ‘possible’ and human-triggered slides are ‘likely.’

Whilst MSC is predominantly a portal for backcountry skiers and boarders, avalanche terrain can even be found in bounds at many Australian resorts and the below sequence proves as much.

 

Professional skier Coen Bennie Faull dropping into the run ‘Tardis’ in bounds at Hotham yesterday. Image:: Mark Tsukasov

 

Coen can be seen jamming his first turn as the slide begins to propagate around him. Image:: Mark Tsukasov

 

The slab avalanche is now visible and begins to slide down the slope, note that this is all occurring almost instantaneously. Image:: Mark Tsukasov

 

Fast forward a few frames and the slab has well and truly released, the crown line/fracture line of the avalanche visible as it snakes around the trees, particularly clear in the top right of the frame. Image:: Mark Tsukasov

 

Avalanche size is ranked on a scale of 1-4, this one being around the 1.5 mark, with a 30cm crown certainly enough to do some harm and partially bury a skier. Image:: Mark Tsukasov

 

Coen at the bottom of the run looking over the considerable debris that made its way onto Mary’s return cat trail. Image:: Mark Tsukasov

Photographer Mark Tsukasov told Mountainwatch, “I was standing where Coen is standing on the cat trail (when capturing the images). Had I posted up under the face it would have knocked me over and buried me.”

“The sound scared the s*** out of me. I watched it pour down and pile up in front of my skis. Only my poles where buried.”

Whilst it wasn’t the kind of terrain on which you’d find a beginner or intermediate skier, the fact the avalanche path made its way across the cat trail meant it was fortunate no other skiers were around at the time.

Unsurprisingly it is this kind of avalanche that Mountain Sports Collective are recognising as the primary hazard in the mountains at the moment – a large wind slab, on wind loaded aspects lee to the north and west.

 

North East Victorian Alps and the Main Range of NSW are subject to HIGH avalanche danger above 1700m. Image:: Mountain Sports Collective

 

Slope selection is key out there at the moment, with in bounds riding strongly advised. Image:: Mountain Sports Collective

For more avalanche advisory information head to the Mountain Sports Collective.

Stay safe out there folks!