11.12AM: Police and rescue crews have confirmed a body found on Mount Bogong this morning is that of second missing snowboarder Martin Buckland.
Mr Buckland's body was found buried under snow at about 10.30am this morning.
He was found a day after the body of his friend, Daniel Kerr, 32, was discovered buried under four metres of snow.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said Mr Buckland was also caught in an avalanche and was discovered “quite close” to where Mr Kerr’s body was located.
Victoria Police have thanked all volunteers who assisted with the search. They will now prepare a report for the coroner.
BODY OF MISSING MAN FOUND AS SEARCH CONTINUES
FEARS that two snowboarders missing on Mount Bogong had perished in an avalanche were realised yesterday as search and rescue crews recovered one of their bodies.
The ongoing search for Melbourne’s Daniel Kerr, 32, and his childhood friend Martin Buckland, 33, took a sad turn when Mr Kerr’s body was found about 10.30am.
An unidentified electronic signal led crews to the body, buried under 4½ metres of snow in steep terrain about 400 metres downhill from Eskdale Spur — just 500 metres from their abandoned campsite at Michell’s Hut.
The search for Mr Buckland will continue today, although police have already told his family he is unlikely to be alive.
Exactly how and when the avalanche hit, or the pair’s movements before it, remained unknown, but Wangaratta region Inspector David Ryan said it was hoped the police investigation would uncover some answers.
"This is something these two guys were highly experienced in. They’ve been up there a number of occasions, they were well-equipped, they know what they’re doing ... and they got caught out.”
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Insp Ryan, speaking from Mount Beauty, said the families of both men had travelled to the North East to be close to the search after raising the alarm on Saturday.
“They’re obviously very distressed, it’s a really, really tragic time for them and we really do feel for them,” he said.
“(They) are really clear that this is something these two guys were highly experienced in.
“They’ve been up there a number of occasions, they were well-equipped, they know what they’re doing ... and they got caught out.”
The pair had set off from Camp Creek on Wednesday, with plans to stay at Michell’s Hut while snowboarding the back country and then return on Saturday.
EDITORIAL: Death a grim reminder
A group of walkers found their empty tent, still filled with their belongings, about 6am on Sunday.
The days leading up to their disappearance saw sub-zero temperatures — at least as low as minus six — consistent rain, low visibility and heavy snowfalls.
It’s the third large-scale search effort on the mountain in a week, following two hunts for hikers that met with happier endings.
Insp Ryan said crews were called out to about one search a week in the High Country, and that conditions on Mount Bogong were particularly treacherous — but that did not mean people should avoid the alps region.
“The warning is that people need to become vigilant around their pre-planning, vigilant about the weather and weather forecasts, and they need to gain an understanding about the environment they want to play in,” he said.
“The snow will catch people out in a hurry ... the weather changes quickly on any of our mountains here.”
For Mr Kerr and Mr Buckland, Insp Ryan said, the tragedy was that “a couple of really nice young blokes lost their lives thinking they’ve done everything right”.
Their families released a statement late on Sunday, with Mr Buckland’s wife Sally saying Mount Bogong was one his favourite spots.
“Our families want to stress how experienced and prepared Martie and Daniel were for this trip, keenly aware of both the risks and the unpredictable nature the outdoors offer,” the statement read.
“Their local knowledge of Mount Bogong and the surrounds, combined with their equipment and experience, just adds to the frustration of dealing with their disappearance.”
The men’s deaths are the second tragedy on Victoria’s snowfields this year, after a seven-year-old Roxburgh Park boy died at Mount Buller last month due to being buried in heavy snow.
In 2005, two people died on the state’s snowfields.
BURIED TENT A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME
WHEN John Kazanas saw the bright yellow tent, still partly covered in snow, he knew something wasn’t right.
Normally, you’d clear your tent, keeping the snow off and your site visible.
Mr Kazanas, from Melbourne, was one of the first walkers to stumble upon the abandoned tent at Michell’s Hut belonging to missing snowboarders Daniel Kerr and Martin Buckland.
Two other walkers about an hour ahead of him had discovered it first, he said, and had told him that most of the tent was buried in snow when they arrived.
Inside they had found jackets and sleeping bags, but there were no footprints nearby.
“There was no sign of these guys,” he said.
Mr Kazanas is no stranger to the high country — he’s visited Mount Bogong at least once a year for the past 12 years and used it in his training to climb Mount Everest in Nepal.
As such, he’s familiar with what Mr Kerr and Mr Buckland would have faced and the need for utmost caution.
“Up to Michell’s Hut it’s not too bad, but above it is pretty extreme,” he said.
“There’s a lot of ice up in the gullies and you really need to be very, very careful.
“An avalanche can catch you short.”
He described the scene atop the mountain yesterday as “very sad”.
MOUNTAIN WEATHER CAN TURN INSTANTLY
AGAINST brilliant blue skies loom the imposing snow-capped peaks of Mount Bogong — Victoria’s highest and, some would argue, most challenging mountain.
On a bright winter’s day like yesterday the stunning scene is inviting, luring hikers and extreme sportsfolk to its untouched trails, the sunshine perhaps whispering a false sense of security.
But that can change in an instant; the clouds roll in, the snow starts to fall and even the best outdoorsmen can find themselves caught out.
Brian Hergt, who owns Kiewa Valley Ski Centre in Mount Beauty, recalls one year when it snowed just days before Christmas.
“You can go up there in shorts in the summer and all of a sudden the weather just turns,” he said.
He has walked the mountain before, but never in winter — a sentiment echoed by many locals yesterday.
Some The Border Mail spoke to described the wilderness and the steep inclines, and how even in summer it was possible to lose your group if you didn’t stay close.
“It’s a dangerous mountain,” said Simon Paton, who has operated Bogong Ski Centre for almost 40 years.
“In extreme weather it’s bleak and harsh ... it’s dangerous country.”
But even still, the appeal remains: the challenge of tough terrain and the thrill of virgin snow.
“It’s the nature of the sport,” deputy commander of the Bright SES Graham Gales said.
Mr Gales said it was “unusual” to have had three large-scale searches on the mountain in a week.