26th July 2009
A man caught in an avalanche in New Zealand has been speaking of the ordeal. Another person in the group died in the accident.
There have been further avalanches too over the weekend following large snow falls.
A group of 5 people, 3 clients and 2 mountain guides, were caught while helisking in Ragged Range, near Methven, on the South Island last week.
Neither of the guides was buried but all 3 skiers were.
The guides dug out the first person within 7 minutes and have been praised for their speed, though they were unable to revive him.
The survivors were father and son, John and Angus Castran, from Australia.
53 year-old John Castran has been telling The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in Australia about his ordeal.
“I was skiing down and all of a sudden the whole side of the mountain just let go,” Mr Castran said.
“I thought I might be able to out-ski it and ski off to the side, but the whole thing was happening so quickly and the snow went straight over the top of me.
The first thing that comes over you is just this incredible adrenalin, and you want to scream. But if I screamed I was going to use up too much oxygen.
I thought: ‘I’ve just got to be smart’. And I was very lucky that I could just turn my mind off and put myself into another place.
You choke with the snow, you can’t breathe, you’re suffocating … it’s like being poured into plaster of Paris. The only thing I could move was my tongue, to push the snow away from in front of my mouth.
I thought: ‘I’ve only got a little bit of air here, I’ve just got to use all the air very, very carefully’. So I just shut myself down totally.”
It took his 23 year old son, Angus, and one of the guides 15 minutes to find him and when they did he was unconscious and had turned blue. He was dug out by his rescuers and was revived by CPR.
The only injury he sustained was a black eye.
For more information and a tribute to the man who died see the article in The Sydney Morning Herald.We reported on the accident on PlanetSKI at the weekend.
In a separate incident on Saturday 5 snowboarders had a lucky escape when they trigggred a massive avalanche in The Remarkables ski resort.
Despite warnings not to venture off piste following the huge amounts of snow that have fallen the people did.
They triggered an avalanche that contained a reported 1,000 tons of snow.
They were not wearing avalanche beacons and are lucky to be alive.
For more information see this story from Radio New Zealand.
The snowboarders have been sharly criticised by the Mountain Safety Council according to this report.