Avalanche danger warning


A veteran Queenstown mountain guide is issuing an avalanche warning.

Alpine Cliff Rescue team co-leader Chris Prudden is warning climbers and backcountry skiers to be prepared.

Heavy snowfall in the Southern Lakes mountains last month has raised the danger of avalanches this winter.

Fresh snow has fallen in the last 24 hours.

Prudden says the Remarkables range has the deepest May snowpack he has seen for years.

“Any subsequent snowfalls now are going to be sitting on old snow, which generates the possibility of an avalanche.”

Warmer temperatures in the past few days would have left the snow saturated, heightening the risk.

“When we get layering of different types of snow and the cohesion is not good, that definitely sets up avalanche conditions.”

He says backcountry enthusiasts and climbers should carry avalanche transceivers, a probe and shovel and know how to use them for ‘self rescue’.

Although Queenstown has the most “continental” climate in the country, it still sits in a temperate zone with changeable temperatures and wind.

“The snowpack stability is generally a reflection of the weather – when the weather changes so does the snow – so backcountry travellers must always be on guard.”