By: randosteve|Posted on: September 27, 2010|Posted in: Avalanche Safety, New Zealand, Trip Planning, Weather | 10 comments

It’s pretty hard to avoid there being high avalanche danger
in New Zealand when it snows 13 feet in 10 days.

Like with most trips, local or abroad, I’ve started to eyeball the conditions and weather forecasts for New Zealand.  (Launch day is tomorrow!) seems to be the best website for weather and is the site for avy forecasts. From this far away, it’s pretty hard to really get a sense of what to expect over there as far as the snowpack goes, but according to the avalanche reports…things are sounding pretty sketchy.

Generally, I’ve heard that the ski season in New Zealand this year was pretty crappy, with not much snow for most of the winter. I’ve read a few stories in some emails that have appeared in my mailbox of people passing up skiing for trail running and surfing. Not much snow usually means lots of sunshine though, so I haven’t been too worried.

Well, things and conditions have changed dramatically in the mountains of the South Island over the past couple weeks, and over the weekend I read that the main divide between Westland and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (pretty much right where I am headed) has received about 4 meters (that’s 13 feet) of snow in the past 10 days. Needless to say, the avalanche danger has spiked to high, with some serious consequences if something rips, because it will probably go huge.

I’m trying not to let this information get to me and add to the anxiety of packing and investing so much time and money into such a trip. I also know that things can change pretty quickly regarding the snowpack. A few warm days, followed by some colder weather can really set things up fast and make the steeper terrain more inviting and approachable. It appears as though this has already started to happen and today the hazard for the park is slated at moderate, but you’ve got to figure there are still some big suckers out there just waiting for the right trigger in order to unload.  However, the words “the time of widespread instability has past”…is music to my ears.

I keep telling myself to relax…that I’ll be there for a month and there must be some “fine” days in the weather to come. At least, I sure hope there are!