Skiers head off Mt Hutt as weather clears

Last updated 18:08 14/08/2014

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About 500 skiers who briefly contemplated a night stuck in the Mt Hutt ski resort have safely come off the mountain after a break in the bad weather allowed road conditions to improve.

Mt Hutt Ski Area got 10cm of fresh snow when a fast-moving storm hit this morning.

‘‘We had a freak snow storm with high winds which hit the ski area around 10.24am ... we then put the roads and lifts (except magic carpet) on hold,’’ operations manager James Urquhar wrote on the ski area’s Facebook page.

The weather cleared by 12.30pm, leaving fresh powder for those waiting, including secondary school pupils from across Canterbury.

The wind began picking up again about 4.30pm though, closing the mountain’s only access road because of poor visibility and trapping about 500 people at the top.

Ski area manager James McKenzie said staff were preparing for an overnight sleepover when they got a break in the weather about 5.30pm and were able to start ‘‘piloting’’ people down the mountain. 

All of the skiers made it back down the mountain safely by 7pm. 

McKenzie said Mt Hutt was one of the windiest areas in the South Island, but mountain staff were well-prepared for any event.

The ski area was likely to be open tomorrow, he said.

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