UPDATE: Pair narrowly avoid Hotham avalanche

DESTRUCTION: The avalanche at Mt Hotham on Tuesday morning. Picture: HOTHAM MEDIA

DESTRUCTION: The avalanche at Mt Hotham on Tuesday morning. Picture: HOTHAM MEDIA

TWO skiers have narrowly avoided an avalanche at Mt Hotham, having travelled over the site of the incident moments earlier.

The pair had travelled down Avalanche Gully on Tuesday morning and had made their way back to the top.

The snow gave way, causing a 50 metre by 300 metre avalanche only metres from where they stood.

In a twist, the incident occurred as emergency service organisations met to discuss their response to avalanches and ran a test rescue scenario.

Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll said the events occurred more frequently than people realised, particularly in back country areas.

He said one of the skiers was standing only two metres from the edge when the snow began to slide on Tuesday morning.

“I think they were very lucky,” he said.

HOTHAM MEDIA

“Even though it was outside the ski resort boundaries, staff attended straight away and closed that area off.

“I think it put the fear of God into them to be quite honest.”

Snowboarders Martin Buckland, 33, and Daniel Kerr, 32, were killed by an avalanche at Mount Bogong in July 2014.

Senior Sergeant Incoll said avalanche survival rates were low, but conducting risk assessments and following rules could help people avoid them. 

Avalanches generally occur on slopes between 30 and 45 degrees. 

He urged groups to travel in stages and said transponders can be installed in clothes to help locate people trapped under snow. 

HOTHAM MEDIA

The Mt Hotham Ski Patrol said there was a high risk of back country avalanches in the back country due to heavy snowfall, cold temperatures and strong winds in recent days. 

Mt Hotham Ski Patrol perform avalanche control work daily and noted in their snow report the danger of sizeable wind slab avalanches at higher elevations.

HOTHAM MEDIA

Previously

Avalanche warnings have been issued for the Victorian Alps with residents and visitors advised to avoid skiing, snowboarding and hiking in remote areas.

Emergency Victoria said avalanches have occurred on Tuesday with ski resorts conducting controlled avalanches to reduce risks.

They said the safest area to ski was within patrolled areas. 

What you should do:

You should be aware of the risks of avalanches outside of patrolled resort areas.

When driving you should stay on main roads. Observe road closures.

Experienced skiers and snowboarders should be aware that avalanches in backcountry areas is highly likely on snow covered steep slopes.

You can find information on fitting snow chains to your car here: www.snowsafe.org.au/chain-fitting/.

Impacts in your area:

There are a number of roads closed in the area. Check the VicTraffic website (traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au/) for road closures or call 13 11 70.

All ski resorts remain open. You should check ski resort websites and talk to ski patrols about the latest conditions.

Your safety can not be guaranteed outside of the patrolled resort areas.

This message was issued by Emergency Management Commissioner.

The next update is expected by 08/08/2017 02:00 pm or as the situation changes.

For information on staying safe in the snow:

Visit www.snowsafe.org.au.

Visit www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/alpine-national-park.

Stay informed:

Via www.emergency.vic.gov.au.

Tune in to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations, or Sky News TV.

Call the VicEmergency Hotline to talk to someone about this warning on freecall 1800 226 226.

People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have a speech/communication impairment can contact VicEmergency Hotline via the National Relay Serviceon 1800 555 677.

For help with English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 (freecall) and ask them to telephone VicEmergency Hotline. If you know someone who cannot speak English, provide them with this number.

Download the VicEmergency app or follow VicEmergency on Twitter or Facebook.

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