8 Jul 2010

Court told of full safety checks before fatal avalanche

7:55 am on 8 July 2010

An inquest into the death of an Australian heliskier has been told there's a need for national standards to govern back-country heli-skiing.

A Sydney man, Llyndon Rietmuller, who was 61, died after being buried in an avalanche on the Ragged Range near Methven last July. Another skier was buried but survived.

A guide who unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate Mr Rietmuller was killed in an avalanche on the same mountain range about three weeks later. His inquest will be held on Thursday.

A mountain safety expert who investigated the incident for the police, Don Bogie, said the Alpine Guides company had good safety systems and did everything it could to save Mr Reitmuller.

However, he said there was a lack of national standards for heliskiing companies and back-country land owners.

The Coroners Court heard a statement from John Castran, a skier who survived after being buried in the same avalanche.

He said there were obvious signs of previous avalanches, but the guides were the best he'd ever skied with and very pedantic, carrying out safety checks on every part of the terrain.

He said he was skiing on the fourth run of the day when he felt the snow breaking around him and he was buried in an avalanche. Mr Muller who was also caught in the avalanche, could not be revived.