Man seriously injured in avalanche

A man seriously injured in an avalanche arrives by rescue helicopter at Lakes District Hospital.

A snowboarder has sustained serious injuries in an avalanche on Ben Lomond near Queenstown.

The man fell about 200 metres down a steep slope on the mountain with a peak of 1748m – the site of a popular tramping track to the summit.

A police spokeswoman confirmed late this morning they had been called to the incident.

St John spokesman Gerard Campbell said the ambulance service was notified at 11.17am.

A rescue helicopter carrying a paramedic and two ski patrol staff and an ambulance were both sent from Queenstown, before the injured man was taken to Lakes District Hospital in Frankton.

Queenstown police SAR coordinator Julian Cahill said two Queenstown men were ski-touring on Ben Lomond when the 30-year-old man fell on the south-eastern side of the mountain.

He said the pair were “lucky” and the injured man could have been killed.

The man had been riding a splitboard –  a snowboard which can separate into two ski-like parts – and was partly buried in snow after the fall.

His friend was able to dig him out of the snow but the man was left with serious to moderate injuries and a lot of chest pain.

A helicopter dispatched to the scene wasn’t able to land and had to perform an unload with one skid resting on the ground, before crews used a long line to extract the injured man.

Constable Cahill said there was an avalanche about 200m long during the incident.

He added that it was unclear whether it happened before or after the man fell.