News in Brief
This week we interview our Chief Guide Mark Seddon, he talks us through the incredible rescue techniques our guides use and how they ensure your safety in the mountains. An Active front brings plenty of snow to the Harris Mountains and we announce the winner of this years #NZuntracked competition!
We all hate Mondays but we have news that will cheer you up. This weekends weather bomb has left us with 40cm of light, fluffy powder covering most of our terrain. Why not add some excitement to your week and start planning a heli-ski trip with your family and friends. Favourable weather over the last few weeks left consistent top ups of snow ensuring near perfect conditions for all our lucky guests.
Avalanche Safety and Rescue Techniques
Over the last fortnight we have taken plenty of groups into the mountains for the trip of their lifetimes, one group, in particular, deserves a very special mention. Last week our Chief Guide Mark Sedon led eight of our senior guides deep into the mountains for a thorough hands-on safety training day.
Here at Harris Mountains Heli-ski safety is our primary objective. Our guides are highly skilled and experienced in all aspects of mountain safety and avalanche awareness. So much in fact that the data they collect for avalanche forecasting is used as the basis for the regional public avalanche forecast.
Every year Mark runs an advanced safety training session to prepare our lead guides for any situation that may arise in an alpine environment. Mark has over 10 years experience in an alpine search and rescue team and has plenty of experience training guides in Antarctica.
We really enjoyed hearing about what they got up to and thought it would be great to share this with you, so we sat down with Mark and asked him a few questions.
What's the purpose of these training sessions?
“As with all outdoor adventure activities Heli-skiing has its risks, but through comprehensive training and risk management, our guides are prepared for any scenario they could face. It's important we run these courses to ensure our guides are trained on the most up to date standards and techniques. We confront them with real-life situations and push them to the limits so we know we can count on them if the going gets tough."
Could you tell us about some of the techniques you covered?
“We started with a couple of snow tests to analyse the avalanche risk, standardise our procedures and emphasise our strategies. This was followed by a series of rescue scenarios including an exciting cliff rescue technique using skis as a rope anchor point. By burying a set of skis in the snow we have a safe way of connecting a rope to belay a guide down to retrieve a patient.
How often do you run these training days?
“ Our staff are constantly learning new techniques from each other on the job. We try to run real life scenarios at-least once or twice a year. We base each session on the needs of the team, we also ensure we cover any new techniques or where best practices have changed. This session we covered rescue techniques and snow safety, the next session could be medical responses or an avalanche scenario. The industry is always changing so it's vital that we adapt. This approach puts us on the leading edge of safety standards."
How does this help the guiding team?
“This was a great opportunity for our team to work together and learn from each other. It’s an effective team and trust building activity to help the guides understand how each team member operates and the unique skills they bring to the group. It means they better understand their role in certain situations and encourages them to call on each other's skills and experiences to establish the most efficient response."
Congratulations Kahli April, the official winner of this year's #NZuntracked campaign with this incredible back country photo. Kahli has won a heli-ski trip for two including premium equipment hire, two nights lakefront accommodation, après ski cocktails, and a massage! We look forward to hearing all about your trip!