UPDATE: Dead boarder identified as grim search continues in the snow

Track to Eskdale Spur is being searched. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
Track to Eskdale Spur is being searched. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

4.30PM The body of the snowboarder located this morning on Mount Bogong has been identified as that of Daniel Kerr.

Police found Mr Kerr’s body, buried under snow, around 10.30am and are continuing to search for the second man Martin Buckland.

The two Melbourne men, Martin Buckland, 33, and Daniel Kerr, 32, were on a snowboarding trip in the Mount Bogong area when they were reported missing after failing to return for a family function on Saturday.

1.50PM ONE of two snowboarders missing on Mount Bogong has been found dead, police have announced. 

Police found the body, buried under snow, around 10.30am this morning and are continuing to search for the second man. 

The identity of the dead man has not been confirmed, police told the media outside Mount Beauty police station. 

The two Melbourne men, Martin Buckland, 33, and Daniel Kerr, 32, were on a snowboarding trip at Mount Bogong when they were reported missing after failing to return for a family function on Saturday. 

Victoria Police has thanked volunteers involved in the search, including SES members, and will now compile a report for the coroner. 

11.20AM  POLICE are holding onto hope two snowboarders missing at Mt Bogong are still alive, despite indications of avalanches on the mountain.

Search and rescue crews have this morning resumed their search for Martin Buckland, 33, from Yarra Junction and Daniel Kerr, 32, from Hawthorn, amid fresh knee-deep snow, making search conditions challenging.

The pair have not been heard from since Thursday; their campsite at Michell Hut, near Eskdale Spur, was found about 6am on Sunday, and appeared untouched since Saturday.

Crews including nine members from Victoria Police's search and rescue squad and local SES are hoping to cover as much ground as possible before weather conditions turn later today.

Insp Dave Ryan said the amount of snow on parts of the mountain indicated avalanche activity.

"We're hopeful at this stage that potentially something's gone wrong and they've moved themselves downhill," he told a press conference this morning.

"We're looking for some sort of clue that they've got into trouble and are trying to walk themselves out."

He said that as the men were experienced on such terrain, there was "nothing to indicate we're not looking for a couple of blokes who've got themselves in a spot of bother".

Police are unsure of what equipment the pair are carrying but a personal emergency alarm has not been activated.

About 23 personnel are searching on the ground while two helicopters are scouring from above.

"It's really quite steep and exceptionally deep snow so it's hard going for our crews at the moment," Insp Ryan said.

While there are clear blue skies on the mountain today, conditions were poor from Thursday to Saturday, with heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures.

10.01AM: There is evidence of avalanches on Victoria’s highest peak where two snowboarders have been missing since Thursday, police say.

Inspector David Ryan from Wangaratta police said conditions were good for the search, and police believed the men hadn’t gone too far from Michell Hut, where their abandoned campsite was found on Sunday morning.

“There is some avalanche indications in the area,” Insp Ryan told Fairfax Radio.

“We’re concentrating in and around those sites today.

“For us today it’s essentially line searching, trying to pick up any sort of clues out along the bottom of those slopes, trying to figure out if these guys have managed to walk themselves out into the tree line.


UPDATE 8.27AM: Family members of the two missing snowboarders at Mount Bogong have stressed how experienced the men were before departing on their camping trip. 

Martin Buckland, 33, from Yarra Junction, and Daniel Kerr, 32, from Hawthorn, failed to return to Melbourne on Saturday after setting off an a snowboarding trip to Eskdale Spur, in Mount Bogong.

Their abandoned campsite at Michell hut was found about 6am on Sunday and police fear they haven’t been there since the last snowfall early on Saturday.

Their families hope they will be found safe.

“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,” they said in a statement.

“Their local knowledge of Mt Bogong and the surrounds, combined with their equipment and experience just adds to the frustration of dealing with their disappearance.”

Nine Search and Rescue members, local police and a number of ski patrol volunteers stayed at Mount Bogong overnight and resumed their search at first light.

A police chopper has also been sent to help with the search.

Police believe the men have an emergency position radio beacon but haven’t activated it.


SUNDAY: POLICE are warning people to stay within their limits on the North East’s Alpine tracks as the search continues for two missing snowboarders on Mount Bogong.

It was the third time in a week police were called to the area after the snowboarders failed to return from their trip on Saturday.

The alarm was raised yesterday when a group of walkers stumbled upon their deserted campsite about 6am.

Leading Sen-Constable Chris Grimmett said the number of people who had got lost this season was “exceptional”.

“Having three separate, unrelated searches in the space of seven days is a considerable drain on resources,” he said.

Sen-Constable Grimmett said the conditions had been dangerous and recent heavy snow falls created the potential for avalanches.

In the days leading up to yesterday’s search, conditions were poor with sub-zero temperatures, consistent rain and low to moderate visibility.

The missing men are in their early 30s and from Melbourne, and are considered to be experienced back country snowboarders.

They signed the trip intention book at Camp Creek last Wednesday, documenting they were staying at Michell Hut before camping on Eskdale Spur and returning on Saturday.

Nothing has been heard from the men since they contacted their families on Thursday and sent them a photograph of their camp at Michell Hut.

Yesterday it appeared the campsite had been unoccupied since a snow fall about 5pm on Saturday.

Among those searching were three bush search and rescue members, two Mount Beauty police members, two ski patrol members and seven search and rescue members from Melbourne.

An air unit from Melbourne was also undertaking a search by helicopter.

“People need to use their judgment before making the ascent,” Sen-Constable Grimmett said.

“The area we are searching is very steep and if you make a wrong turn when there is low visibility you could have a nasty fall.”

Sen-Constable Grimmett said poor conditions made navigation difficult and people could end up on dangerous terrain.

“You should stay within the level of your equipment and expertise,” he said.

“Don’t attempt a climb or hike beyond your capabilities which puts you and emergency services at risk.”

Sen-Constable Grimmett said they were anxious to find the pair and would remain in sub-zero temperatures until the search was complete.

“It could be days,” he said.

“We are concerned but certainly not giving up hope.”

Police stopped searching at 5pm yesterday due to fading light and will re-start this morning.

Emergency services also spent Saturday night searching for a motorcyclist who ran out of fuel on Mount Stirling.

The man, 36, was found near Clear Hills Track just before 4am yesterday.