Skifield operator NZSki remains unmoved about the rules for ski tourers at Coronet Peak.
A public meeting on May 25, organised by Federated Mountain Clubs national executive member Erik Bradshaw, probed whether rules could be softened in future.
But Coronet Peak manager Ross Copland says slackening safety guidelines is “not a realistic expectation”.
Ski touring is not allowed between 6pm and 6am, when staff are grooming and snowmaking.
Copland: “I can’t see how anyone could make a reasonable argument for why they need to go ski touring in pitch black in a dangerous workplace, and why we should ever consider allowing that.”
Copland says the meeting was a good opportunity to reiterate its safety rules, and the relationship between NZSki and ski tourers was improving.
His staff would continue to deal with access issues on a case-by-case basis, ranging from a “friendly chat” with visitors unaware of the guidelines to possibly trespassing serial offenders.
Such extreme action had been necessary only once, 12 months ago, when two people refused to leave an area where dangerous operations were under way, at night, during heavy snow.
Bradshaw says the meeting built on efforts in the past few years to improve mutual understanding.
NZSki’s stance on health and safety had to be respected, he says, but he believes access to the mountain would improve if skiers built up a track record of responsibility.
“I would ultimately like it to be more of a compromise. There is an element of people feeling that NZSki are laying down the law and it’s either like it or lump it.
“But we’ve got to prove that as a group, we can adhere to a set of rules and that we understand their health and safety concerns.”
If ski tourers become more organised as a group, they would become more effective at lobbying for better access to Coronet Peak and other alpine areas, he says.
Otago Daily Times