The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)has issued a message to backcountry users in the Snowy Mountains. See below for full text.
As Bruce from Wilderness Sports says:
“Education about mountain safety and avalanches has proven to be good and useful BUT a little bit of knowledge has proven to be more dangerous.
I think awareness is one thing but avalanche courses here in Australia are inappropriate given terrain and our snow conditions”.
Gear is no substitute for direct experience.
The Wilderness Sports report from Monday July 28 says:
A good day for touring with the sunshine. Harder snow conditions prevail. The snow cover on the Main Range is deep with well over 1 metre cover on higher peaks and large deep drifts and bigger cornices. Take care when around these areas!
The base is deeper following consistent snow falls recently; improving backcountry skiing & Snowshoes are pretty useful at the moment to get about.
Take care especially higher peaks where hard and icy. Might make you realise alpine conditions and why crampons and axes are handy if you venture deep onto the Range. Resort Cams show building snow cover with lots of terrain opening!
The NEW Cam looking towards Mount Kosciuszko is sensational to assess conditions (excepting when blizzard conditions prevail).
You can keep an eye on their Weather and Snow Updates here.
NPWS press release
NPWS reminds visitors to Kosciuszko National Park to take safety precautions before venturing into the backcountry this snow season.
NPWS Area Manager Anthony Evans said the recent weather conditions had caused snow cornices to form and caused unstable snowpack in some areas, both of which could cause an avalanche.
“In the Snowy Mountains, heavy early-season snow falls can cause unstable conditions on the steeper slopes along the Main Range,” Mr Evans said.
“In addition, most of the snow this winter has come with high winds which have caused the formation of huge, overhanging cornices on the lee side of mountains.
“There are cornices around Mt Kosciuszko and Blue Lake, which is not unusual, however due to this season’s conditions, there are also cornices in places where we wouldn’t normally expect to see them.
“Avalanches do occur in Australia, although they aren’t as common as in Europe or North America, and the safest place to enjoy the snow is in the less exposed areas below the tree line or on resort grounds and established cross country trails.
“We want visitors who are experienced and prepared to enjoy the backcountry, but carry the right equipment, which includes a Personal Locator Beacon, and follow all other precautions on the Alpine Safety page at www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au.
“Some people may consider carrying an avalanche transponder, but everyone in the group needs to carry one and know how to use them in an emergency. And without an avalanche probe and snow shovel they are no use.
“The best solution is to understand the risks, such as avoiding steep slopes greater than 30 degrees after heavy snow, and avoiding being near the top of a slope where cornices develop.
“Enjoy Kosciuszko National Park but ensure you are properly prepared and if you’re not an experienced ski tourer or mountaineer, hire an experienced backcountry guide for those adventures.”
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are available from the NPWS visitor centres at Jindabyne, Tumut and Khancoban. Their hire is free of charge, however a $400 deposit applies.
Read more about Alpine Safety: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety/alpine