Ski patroller dies in US avalanche

A ski patroller who had spent the past five winters working in Queenstown and was expected to return this year died last week in a back-country avalanche in Colorado, United States.

The Alamosa Valley Courier reported last week Andre Hartlief died on February 16 in an avalanche while skiing with two friends in the back country of the Wolf Creek ski area.

Mr Hartlief, a 37-year-old Australian national, had made Queenstown his home for the past five snow seasons while working as a member of the ski patrol at the Remarkables Ski Area.

One skiing companion avoided the avalanche and along with the other, who suffered a knee injury, located Mr Hartlief through his avalanche beacon, dug him out and attempted CPR.

However, the trauma from the accident was too great and he died from his injuries, before being recovered from the area by a team of about 40 people later that evening.

NZSki chief executive James Coddington said the company, which runs the Remarkables Ski Area, was organising a memorial event for "a great person, with an infectious personality".

"He was such a positive guy, very passionate about the mountains and very strongly driven to do well in everything he did." Mr Hartlief was in his first year as a ski patroller at Colorado's Keystone Ski Resort and had previously patrolled in the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and worked as a Snowmass resort ski instructor, near Aspen.

Mr Coddington said Mr Hartlief was a vital part of the "equally passionate and close-knit" ski patrol team, who were all grieving.

A private memorial "in remembrance of who he was as a person" would be held, most likely at the Remarkables, when the patrol team arrived for the scheduled start of the ski season in June.

Mr Hartlief is survived by his parents and brother, who have travelled to the United States to retrieve his body.



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