Ski fields celebrating decent dump, but avalanche risk real

by Kim Bowden - Jul 02, 2024

While residents at valley level across the Queenstown Lakes District dealt with continuous rain for much of Monday, ski field operators were celebrating more of the white stuff rather than the wet at higher altitudes.

General manager of Cardrona and Treble Cone Laura Hedley says significant snow fell overnight on Sunday and continued through Monday, turning both resorts into "winter wonderlands".

She calls it a "total-game-changer" for the mountains.

The Snow Farm near Cardona is open after a decent dump of snow, Tuesday, July 2, 2024 (Image: Facebook/Snow Farm NZ).

"Both Cardrona and Treble Cone will be looking to open more terrain off the back of this week’s storm, and we’re hyped to have a solid base to build the rest of the season from. Winter is well and truly here."

The Snow Farm on the Pisa Range was also able to open Tuesday for skiing and snowshoeing after hanging out for snow.

"We've finally had out massive snow dump," it said, announcing its first day of the season on social media. 

A mountain range over, The Remarkables ski field manager Steve Hall, in a video post to Facebook,  says the cold temperatures forecast for the week ahead will be ideal for snowmaking to top up the snow delivered in recent days.

Communications from sister ski field Coronet Peak went straight to the point: "That's more like it", a Facebook post Tuesday lunch time said, alongside an image of snow-covered trails.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory, provided by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, is urging backcountry adventurers to beware of the risk of avalanches off the back of the fresh snow.

"Any form of back-country travel is discouraged today," the latest avalanche advisory for Queenstown says.

"Significant overloading in start zones and touchy wind-slabs will be widespread. Large avalanches are likely.

"The current snowfall needs to settle, information gathering has been minimal. Give the pack time to settle and bond."

Coronet Peak: 'That's more like it' (Image: Facebook/Coronet Peak).

It says conditions are generally safer below 1,200 metres, but advises risk is considerable between 1,200 metres and 1,800 metres and high above 1,800 metres.

Residents in Queenstown could hear avalanche mitigation work underway Tuesday, as booms reverberated around the Whakatipu Basin.

Ski field teams use specialist explosives to move loose snow above trails.

Close to 50 centimetres of snow is reported to have fallen on southern ski field slopes throughout Sunday night and Monday.

State Highway Eight over the Lindis Pass between Omarama and Tarras was closed Monday night due to heavy snow, but has since reopened.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is advising motorist to "take extra care" while driving the route as winter conditions remain.

Main image (Supplied/Cardrona Alpine Resort/Chris Kay): A powder day at Cardona Alpine Resort on Monday, July 1, 2024.

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