Anyone who backcountry skis or rides outside Australia will know about the need to be careful of avalanche risk. Many regions around the world with lots of backcountry or mountaineering terrain will have online or phone service avalanche information which can be consulted before heading out into the hills.
With our moderate sized mountains and lower avalanche risk, many Australians are not aware that there are actually dangers to be found in our backcountry.
Now we have our first avalanche/ conditions info service: Snow Safety Australia.
“The site is aimed to issue information regarding alpine safety across the NSW Main Range. This includes firstly the weather, by observation and predictions, and the effect the weather has on the snow pack. In Australia this ranges from ‘Bulletproof’ hard ice, through to loose snow and the associated avalanche danger. We also report on wet snow conditions and the potential for ‘wet slides’.
The rate of incidents in which individuals or entire parties being overwhelmed by the alpine conditions is increasing year on year. Not that conditions are necessarily worsening. Simply more people are heading ‘out’, and potentially less prepared.
The winter of 2014 showed an alarming increase in incidents. There were 5 parties requiring rescues from remote areas alone and two within ski resort boundaries. Unfortunately two people lost their lives in an avalanche event.
For each rescue, teams of more than 30 people are assembled. All remote alpine rescues involve rescuers engaging in difficult and dangerous operations. As a testament to their training and ability they have a strong success rate. Yet in reality, the less ‘call-outs’ the better.”