Avalanches are a significant risk for anyone traveling in the New Zealand backcountry. Every year people die or are injured in avalanches. However getting caught in an avalanches doesn’t just happen to extreme athletes, they happen to ordinary people; skiing and snowboarding beyond the ski area boundary, climbing, tramping or hunting, and more. In fact anyone who spends time on or below snow-covered slopes.
Many avalanche victims don’t know they are in danger and are unprepared to deal with an avalanche. For most, the avalanche was triggered by themselves or a member of their party. But this doesn’t have to happen. The danger signs are usually obvious to those who know what to look for but this takes training and experience so it is vital that everyone takes a course and builds their knowledge before committing to crossing the ski area boundary or a trip in the backcountry.
Avalanche NZ is a national, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to avalanche safety and our primary purpose is educating and informing the public about avalanche hazards and how to avoid getting caught in one.
We do this by providing:
- Avalanche safety information, workshops and seminars
- Education courses and training resources
- Support for research
- Support for the communities of backcountry users
This covers a wide array of people who play or work in the New Zealand backcountry. From the typical winter alpine uses; skiers and snowboarders to the spring alpine users; alpine climbers, trampers, hunters and ski tourers.
Avalanche NZ also supports other organisations within the sector to encourage consistency and best practice in avalanche safety, through the facilitation and membership of national committees and working groups, the publication of resources and information on the latest national and international developments and the development of safety management systems and training programmes.
Andrew Hobman (aka Hobbie) is an alpine safety specialist who has worked, played and survived in the mountains for over 40 years. After spending more than ten years skiing and climbing around the world he has worked as a Search and Rescue team leader at Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, Alpine and Avalanche Programme manager for the Mountain Safety Council and is now a Director of Avalanche NZ. He is based in Christchurch and spends his time in the office, managing the administration and resource development or out in the field, teaching and checking on the current snowpack conditions.
Gordon Smith has been working within the snow industry since 1990 in New Zealand, Colorado (USA), Canada, and more recently Sweden and Norway. He loves the snow so much he has only seen three summers in the past 24 years. While Ski Patrol work has dominated this time, from 2003 he has been working as a consultant in avalanche safety and education, having developed curriculum, online education, and forecasting systems for the NZ Mountain Safety Council, Otago and Tai Poutini Polytechnics. Equally at home behind the computer developing theories and systems, he is an avid backcountry ski-tourer, and clocks up more field days than most, testing theories, techniques, and equipment while discovering new terrain. “One day I’ll work on my tan below the neckline, but not any day soon.”
Brian Carter …bio to come
Hugh Logan …bio to come
All of our instructors are current professionals in the industry; qualified, experienced and practicing their craft frequently. In addition to being professional ski and alpine guides, snow safety personnel, and avalanche forecasters they are experience educators who receive regular training, updates and feedback.
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