Know before you go - AdventureSmart

The avalanche that released behind the Remarkables Ski Area yesterday was part of a normal cycle of spring events but goes to highlight the dangers when travelling in the alpine backcountry.

On Wednesday the Mountain Safety Council spoke with media about the increased possibility of wet slab avalanches following the recent heavy snowfalls on Queenstown's mountains. The Mountain Safety Council website, listed the highest risk for each area. Queenstown had been given the "considerable" danger warning for most of September and this is expected to continue over the weekend.

"We try to impress on people that 'Considerable' means dangerous avalanche conditions. Experts only," said Andrew Hobman, the Mountain Safety Council's Avalanche Programme Manager.

"The true definition means that natural avalanches are possible and human triggered are likely. Given that 90% of avalanche fatalities or triggered by the victim or someone in there party, this should be a clear warming to stay away from the terrain indicated in the advisories."

Different areas of the mountains pose higher risks due to their elevation, steepness and the way they face. Wind-blown snow can often ended up in sheltered areas or the effect of the sun heating the snowpack is more prominent on Northerly facing slopes. The forecasters take all this into account when creating the Backcountry Avalanche Advisory and this danger is made apparent on the diagrams found on The Avalanche Centre website.

"We aim to give people some sound information about the danger, what type and where it is so that they can go and have a great time but also come home again," said Mr Hobman.

"We're all about promoting people to get out and enjoy our great outdoors but just do a bit of planning first and follow the Outdoor Safety Code."

Visiting the website is only part of staying safe in the mountains. The Outdoor Safety Code has five simple rules that help people to stay safe on their trip. The main context behind the Code is: Your safety is your responsibility.

The 5 rules provide guidance on how to prepare and act in the outdoors. They are applicable to all outdoor activities from a short walk in the bush to a multi-day mountain adventure. They are:

1. Plan your trip
Know where you're going, the nature of the terrain and when you will be back.

2. Tell someone
Tell someone your plans and leave a time and date for when to raise the alarm if you haven't returned at

3. Be aware of the weather and avalanche conditions
Check avalanche advisories at

4. Know your limits
Learn to manage yourself in avalanche terrain - take a course.

5. Take sufficient supplies
Always carry a transceiver, shovel and probe and know how to use them.

"There is still plenty of great skiing out there," Mr Hobman said, "it is just a matter of having the knowledge and skill to identify the potentially dangerous avalanche terrain and conditions and travel accordingly". Always check in with the local experts for their opinion and if in doubt, change your plans.

More information on the code and outdoor safety can be found on the Mountain Safety Council's website