Ruapehu hikers accounted for after avalanche
A group of hikers who were believed to be heading for an unstable area of Mount Ruapehu where several avalanches were triggered today have reportedly been accounted for.
Nobody was caught in three avalanches, which rumbled down from the summit, above the Turoa Ski Area, about 2:30pm.
Turoa Ski Area mountain manager Chris Thrupp had been concerned that a group of about 35 hikers could be walking into a ''hazardous area''.
''Because we believe they are moving into a hazardous area we have called out the local Alpine Rescue organisation and put them on stand-by so that if something happened resources are at hand to deal with it,'' Thrupp said.
Thrupp later told Radio New Zealand that two ski patrollers had reached the group and helped then down.
The upper-mountain lifts have been closed for the day and customers have been brought down to lower levels.
''Nobody was near it or caught in it. It's what we call a natural event. We believe it's been caused by the sun heating the new snow and it absorbs moisture and becomes quite dense - a little bit like mud in the rain on a slope; it gets wet, becomes heavy and slides down.''
Because it was a natural event, Thrupp said it was possible there could be more avalanches in the same area and it was important those hiking towards the summit made their way down.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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