Guide killed in avalanche

A heli-skiing guide was killed today in an avalanche in Canterbury.

The man from Alpine Guides died after being buried by the avalanche on Ragged Range in Methven - the same area where an Australian tourist was killed while skiing with the company a month ago.

The guide, who was with four clients, had been looking at the runs in the Ragged Range when he was caught directly in the avalanche about 4pm, Alpine Guides managing director Bryan Carter said.

"He was subsequently located and dug out by other guides.

"He was unconscious and despite treatment ... over the next two hours, I understand, unfortunately he didn't survive."

Mr Carter, who spoke to NZPA while on his way to Methven tonight, said he did not know how long the man had been buried but the guides had returned from the rescue about 6.30pm.

He understood the four clients were not caught in the avalanche.

"But one of them has a twisted back or a bit of a back injury - but nothing serious."

The company had rated the avalanche risk in the area today as considerable, which was a step up from moderate but a step down from high, Mr Carter said. The company would be reviewing the types of conditions it took people out in, he said.

"It's important to realise that a lot of people have been out heli-skiing over the last month in difficult conditions and with mostly very successful outcomes.

"But of course we have to look at how this happened, why it happened because of the events, you know, that goes without saying."

Before the Australian client was "regretfully" killed in an avalanche about a month ago the company had not had a fatality for 30 years, he said.

" Very sadly I have to say we've had two within a month."

It had been a "very difficult" season, but other than that he did not know why the two deaths had occurred in such a short space of time, he said.

"Until I get fully briefed on what's happened that's probably about all I can say at the moment."

The guide, who died today, was very experienced and had been working with the company for about 12 to 13 years, Mr Carter said.

Police said helicopters had transported the patients to accessible airfields as fog in the area was causing problems.

The rest of the party had been transported to Glenfalloch Station.

Methven police would be talking to the injured.

One other man has been killed in an avalanche while snowboarding at Coronet Peak near Queenstown this winter.

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