14 Aug 2011

Coroner urges heliski safety code work

6:23 am on 14 August 2011

A Christchurch coroner wants heliski operators to continue developing an industry code of practice.

Coroner Richard McElrea has issued his findings following inquests into the deaths of an Australian tourist and a heliski guide near Methven in 2009.

The two men were killed in avalanches within weeks of each other, while on trips with Methven Heliski.

In his findings, Mr McElrea notes that the company has for many years been an industry leader in New Zealand and the guides involved were among the most experienced in the country.

He is calling for the New Zealand Heliski Operators Group to continue developing an industry code of practice.

Mr McElrea also wants probes and shovels made available for each client and on-board oxygen and rescue equipment to be considered as a minimum standard for heliskiing in avalanche-prone terrain.

Heliski operator Charlie Hobbs is confident the industry is working to the highest standards, but supports the recommendation that continued efforts be made to improve safety.

He says the Heliski Operators Group takes all measures to protect clients and operates to interational standards. Mr Hobbs says the mountains are a risky environment, and qualified guides know how to manage that risk.