Wakatipu ski patrollers are certain no one has been buried in a large snow avalanche up the Remarkables in Queenstown.
Job done: Ski patrollers and search dogs return from an avalanche up the Remarkables in Queenstown
The 80-metre by 100-120m slip earlier today (Thursday) happened outside The Remarkables ski area boundary.
A full-scale search operation – involving three dogs and 40 people – began immediately after debris was spotted on the far side of Lake Alta at about 2.45pm.
In a statement tonight (Thursday), NZSki management said the search concluded no one was caught in the avalanche.
No vehicles were left in the carpark and there had also been no reports of anyone missing.
A 22-year-old local man on a stretcher was carted from the base building into an ambulance at 6.34pm and driven off the mountain - both St John and NZSki bosses have confirmed this was unrelated to the avalanche.
St John Invercargill team manager Robin Eustace says the man had suffered a leg injury.
“It was just a normal daily event.”
NZSki chief executive James Coddington says he understands the injured man had broken a bone.
“It was an incident on the piste, nothing serious. These things happen on the mountain on a daily basis.”
Coddington says a team of 40 searchers made up of NZSki patrollers, lifties and snow sports members did amazing work to complete the avalanche search before darkness.
“It was 80 metres by 100 metres and the fact they carried out that search in two hours is just amazing.
“You have to cover every inch, you’re slipping into it, carrying a three-metre probe. It’s quite a labour-intensive and methodical process which you can’t skip or rush.”
The team returned with 100 per cent certainty no one had been buried, Coddington says.
“It’s been a busy afternoon but one with a great outcome.”
Both Glacier Southern Lakes and Heliworks helicopters assisted ferrying searchers to and from the avalanche site.
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