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Trip Report Wanaka 2014 edition

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Heinz, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Minaret station tented lodge

    website: http://www.minaretstation.com

    Apparently you can stay here for a lazy NZD2000 a night!! They fly in a gourmet chef to do the cooking. We had to make do with our standard heliski lunch on the balcony.

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    We were able to have a peek into the lounge - no ski boots allowed though.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Afternoon skiing

    Dr Who
    [​IMG]

    Eager Beaver - best run of the day
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  3. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm fine
     
    #103 Heinz, Aug 16, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2014
    benchives and Draizuh like this.
  4. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not much to report on the skiing today. It was ok but I guess I was perhaps lucky not to have been in the machine that crashed this afternoon.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10391195/Helicopter-crashes-near-Wanaka

    Don't have much more in the way of detail. Back in town the guides were all upstairs in the guides room with the police with them so best I stayed clear of that.

    Don't know about the possible fatality but heard that the others were being flown to Wanaka Medical centre.
    The only good indication that says it that if they were really serious they would be flown to Dunedin hospital.

    What I do know is that the guide Mark radioed back after the crash. I had 3 days with Mark this trip and that machine was operating from the same base (Phoebe Creek) where I started from today. I was in a different machine today flying on the other side of the valley. If I had been in the same operation I would most likely have been with Mark.

    The crash apparently happened on Mt Alta which is the highest peak in the South Buchanans. Today was fine and warm and no wind where we were in the North Harris. That is not to say there may not have been some wind gusts around Alta at that time, but probably unlikely.

    When it happened they pulled most of the guides out from the other operations to help out. We didn't actually know what the incident was at that point - just had our lunch. Just knew that it was serious especially when all ops were canned. Only started hearing the story once back in the valley.
     
  5. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  6. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Just caught up with some of the guides to catch up with news and say goodbyes. Have got a few more details but probably not appropriate to post all of them. Main thing from my point of view was that while Mark had chest injuries and was flown to Dunedin he is not too bad. A couple of others were also flown to Dunedin. The skiers were Aucklanders and the guy who was killed was a regular that I have probably skied with in the past. It happened on a run on a sunny aspect on Mt Alta which i have skied a few times, though not this year.

    It was the lead item on the TV1 news just now.
     
  7. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think it would have been on this slope.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. socold

    socold A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    wow, glad to see you ok, not the way to end a holiday :(
     
  9. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Absolutely tragic news Heinz.
    A close knit community will be reeling from this for a while I suspect.

    One report I read suggests the heli may have been attempting a ridge landing when it came unstuck :(

    My thoughts and condolences to all involved/affected.
    NZ Heli Skiing is one of the most magical experiences. I'm so sad this has happened :(
     
  10. JoeKing

    JoeKing Old n' Thrusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  11. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    I came straight on here after i saw it on the news website i was reading and hoping it wasnt you! im glad you are ok :( Sucks to hear about this after another fantastic day in the mountains :(
     
  12. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    It is indeed a close knit community, one I am happy to associate with.

    Yes it would have been a ridge landing but these are very common in NZ. The AS350B2's are well suited to these. Normally wind can be an issue especially gusty or swirling wind but today was calm.
     
    LMB likes this.
  13. benchives

    benchives I forgot how to ski Ski Pass: Gold

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    Happy to hear u are ok but yeh, rip to those who are gone
     
  14. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Yeah I'm in one of the club lodges at CP tonight, it's certainly the topic of conversation. A few people around know some of the HMH guys really well. An absolute bummer on what would have been one of the days of the season in the mountains. Very pleased to hear you weren't involved Heinz, and I really hope this doesn't have too much of a negative impact on HMH's operations.
     
  15. BofSki

    BofSki One of Us

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  16. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    There will clearly be an impact on operations for the next few days. The guys will be busy on incident reports for the Police who may put a temporary hold on operations. Will have to wait and see what the outcome of that will be. Hopefully no long term impact. From my viewpoint though probably a good time to leave.

    From my recollection that was only the 3rd fatality with HMH in their 35 years of operation. One was a heart attack in the 80's and the other was decapitated by rotor blade in 1993 (hence their safety brief warning of holding on to caps and other loose clothing or tucking them away).
     
  17. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    oh wow... 'Assume the position/take a knee/lock down your gear' seemed like common sense, but I guess there had to be an incident in the past.... Pretty horrific thought though.
     
  18. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, that was a brief lapse of concentration late in the day - cap blew off and he instinctively reached up for it. I skied my first day in 1983 with him. He was very experienced - had skied over 1m vert ft. I was in South America at the time so missed the news but came a week or so later and noticed the addition to the briefing.
     
  19. ScottGN

    ScottGN One of Us Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Me too Heinz. Radio NZ is reporting that the chopper was attempting a ridge landing on Mt Alta and then tumbled a thousand feet.
     
  20. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    I'm more worried about their long term operational prospects... the H&S environment in NZ has changed markedly in recent times, Worksafe NZ could make things very difficult for them. Obviously we can't read much into it until we know the details of the incident.

    Really at this stage, all that counts, is condolences to all involved.
     
  21. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes, that is the indication I got. Tipped over and rolled down the slope. How it tipped over though is the question. Mark was the lead guide so that would most likely have been the first landing on that ridge for the day.
     
  22. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Makes me wonder if someone jumped out heavily, upsetting the chopper balance... Especially if the wind was still...

    Or if the ridge was weak and gave way in such a way as the pilot couldn't right her before disaster.

    All speculation. The one definite is it truly sucks!
     
  23. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    :( RIP, glad you're OK Heinz!
     
  24. expatgm

    expatgm Addicted

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    Those pilots make hundreds of ridge landings throuout the year, something out of the ordinary happened.
    What should have been a good day turned into a tragedy. All we can do is pray for the deceased.
     
  25. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    After all that almost forgot about the Bledisloe cup. Good game but frustrating, Wallabies should have won that.
     
  26. Undies

    Undies Pizza! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Condolences to the family of the deceased. Glad you're ok, Heinz.
     
  27. trappers

    trappers Safety not guaranteed Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    So good to hear from you Heinz, I was worried. Obviously an absolute tragedy, having been in a heli in that area only a few weeks ago it feels all the more tangible.

    Thoughts are with the family of the deceased and injured :( RIP
     
  28. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mood rather sombre leaving Wanaka this morning. HMH have understandbly closed up shop so no one around this morning.
     
  29. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Back home now. Pretty routine trip home, except skis missed the connecting flight in Sydney. Actually that bit is almost routine as well - has happened several times now.

    HMH suspended ops today but plan to resume tomorrow.

    http://www.heliski.co.nz/2014/08/helicopter-accident-16th-august/

     
  30. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes, still speculation. It wouldn't have been someone jumping out. The first person to get out is always the guide. Everyone else stays until he indicates. Normally this will be after he has finished unloading skis.

    As I suggested earlier this would most likely have been the first landing on that ridge for the day and most likely for several days, weeks even? We were in the South Buchanans a few days for a run last Sunday but not on Alta. Yesterday I'm sure Mark was trying to get to the sunny North side looking for spring type corn conditions as the powder had largely been damaged by wind.

    So maybe there was a build up of snow on one side which wasn't supportive and the pilot had already taken the power off and wasn't able to recover in time? - still all just speculation.

    I didn't know the pilot actually. I saw him in the morning and didn't recognise him - not one that I had ever flown with, so I assume Queenstown based. So can't comment on that side, although anyone who has qualified to fly in the mountains knows what they are doing.
     
    #130 Heinz, Aug 17, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
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  31. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Skis have now just been delivered :thumbs:
     
  32. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dunno about you...but I just keep thinking about it with such sadness.
    Bit like when the plane was shot down over Ukraine...(my kid was in the air in the area at the time)...

    Poor buggers.
    Especially feel for the heli pilot.
     
  33. chunky

    chunky Old n' Crusty

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    Yeah my thoughts for those involved :(

    I did come on to say wow to all your photos!
     
  34. TropicalPow

    TropicalPow One of Us

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    Glad to hear all is good with you Heinz
    Very sad news for all involved
    I heli skied the Tyndall Glacier with that guy and my recollection was of him chatting with his mates while the heli safety briefing was being done . Stood out to me at the time given I had just completed my commercial heli license and I recall thinking he was a bit cocky about the helicopter safety , something that requires constant reinforcement
     
  35. TropicalPow

    TropicalPow One of Us

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    Adding to that I am not meaning to be disrespectful to the man as it is always a tragedy for all involved.
    Helicopter safety can never be taken to lightly and requires constant reinforcement
     
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  36. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes I think you are right. I imagine the events would be running through his mind. Even if he knows he did everything he could he would be running through 'what ifs''. Apart from the tragic loss of life the machines cost around $2.5M.

    Occasionally we may take the pilots for granted, but after seeing them in action for a while you appreciate the amazing job they do in this mountain environment. The way that can pinpoint landings on a ridge or down the valley putting the skids down a half metre away from our skis in variable wind and make it look easy. You often don't realise how hard they are actually working to control the machine to achieve this. There have been times where they have calmly manipulated the machine and set it down by the flag on a ridge, then we have stepped out and been blasted by the wind and marvelled how they achieved that. When the pilot says enough, there is no argument from anyone.

    Respect.
     
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  37. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    One person you don't tell how to do their job when their doing their job - heli pilots. I've seen people try. It was lol.
     
  38. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes, I can imagine that. It would get a very short sharp response.
     
  39. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    To say the least.
     
  40. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  41. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Some thinking that they may have landed on a cornice? I don't remember that landing specifically so can't recall if there normally is a cornice or not.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/10396713/Snow-may-be-cause-of-crash

    Also Mark is out of hospital but a little worse for wear.
     
  42. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for sharing and keeping us updated Heinz :thumbs:
    Glad the guide is out of hospital and in good spirits.

    That pic in the article is disturbing. :eek:
    I thought the heli body was relatively intact in previous shots, unless they've dismantled it during investigations....
     
  43. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    No problem. Obviously I have a particular interest in all this. Happy to see Mark is relatively ok.

    Regarding the heli body, they probably have pulled a few bits out, before relocating the whole lot for detailed investigation. But also the previous shots were I recall from above.
     
  44. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mark's recovering but it's taking longer than first expected. Compression fractures in three vertebrae & four broken ribs.
     
  45. ScottGN

    ScottGN One of Us Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was interested to hear from a friend who went out on a heli to the Eyre Mountains a couple of weeks ago with a different company that her pilot had said they were reducing their passenger loads by one person on all flights in the wake of the HMH accident. She said it meant that there was an extra group for their chopper to shuttle.
     
  46. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hmm. I was going to get the story from Mark on the Gents' tour but sadly he'll still be popping pain killers.
     
  47. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, I guess it was good to be optimistic initially having survived that, but they were still fairly serious injuries. So what is the status of your tour now? Someone else taking over?
     
  48. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don't if there was any confirmation of that being a factor relating to the incident or if they are just taking extra precautions. They have been flying B2's for probably 15 years at a guess and always flown with pilot, guide & 5 clients (1 in front and 4 in back) without any issues. I did note this year there was some industry regulation about total weight limitations for passengers in the front seat, so we always put the lightest client in front, although that had always been the case anyway - front seat is fairly tight.
     
  49. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep. Anna Cook.
     
  50. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ah, so not quite an exclusive gents tour then. Anna will be fine, heaps of experience in heli ski and ski touring guiding in NZ and India and a bit of ski touring Hokkaido. She's also been with HMH for probably 20 years and is one of their main avalanche forecasters. And don't worry she can certainly ski as well.
     
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