Skifield helibombed after heavy snowfall delays opening

17:00, Aug 15 2014

Patrol staff at The Remarkables spent most of yesterday probing the snowpack and heli-bombing steeper aspects after nearly a metre of snow fell this week.

The NZSki-run field managed to open most of its lifts by the afternoon except the new Curvey basin chair. Cloud cover prevented helicopters from accessing the ridge above the new lift until after 3pm.

In the morning, only Alta and the learners' slopes were open after the skifield delayed vehicles from using the access road because of avalanche risk.

A large slip was triggered by explosives and spewed a two to three-metre wide debris field across the access road between the Homeward Bound outlet and the car parks.

Ski area manager Ross Lawrence said the 40 centimetre accumulation of snow overnight on Thursday settled, unusually, on northeast facing aspects, above Sugar Bowl, Curvey and the road.

"The 40cm was really wind-affected. The critical one for us was the access road, that area [between Homeward and the car parks] is called Big Brother and the guys got a 2.5-scale avalanche out of the face, big enough to bury houses and take them off their foundations. It was about two to three metres across the road. That just started delaying things."


Foot patrols spent the remainder of the day checking the rest of the field and setting charges while heli-bombing was done during breaks in the cloud cover.

By late afternoon, Shadow basin including Homeward Bound, Sugar bowl and Alta were open. Off piste access from Sugar was closed.

Lawrence expected the entire field to be open today on what promises to be one of the best days of the season.

Skiers and boarders heading up today were advised to carry chains and car pool. The MetService forecast for today and tomorrow was mainly fine.

Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone and Coronet Peak were all open yesterday.

The Southland Times