5 September 2022

UPDATED: Canberra skier still missing as police say weather could prove crucial

| Claire Fenwicke and Evelyn Karatzas
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rescue crews on snowmobiles

Emergency services are searching for a missing skier who hasn’t been heard from since Saturday (3 September). Photo: Monaro Police District Facebook.

UPDATED: Police say the weather will be a major factor in the search for a 23-year-old Canberra man, who has been missing for two days in back country near Jindabyne.

Dozens of police and other emergency services personnel have spent today (5 September) scouring the area for the experienced skier.

Monaro Police District Commander superintendent John Klepczarek said police were called in after the skier’s mother became concerned he hadn’t made contact with family or friends.

“A preliminary search that afternoon located his car at Guthega car park and we left some notes there for him to contact [us] if he did make it back,” Supt Klepczarek said.

“On Sunday morning again no-one had heard from the 23-year-old so, as a result, we commenced a search of the area.

“It’s believed the skier was well-prepared and experienced, and took a personal beacon and food on his trip.”

Supt Klepczarek said the man’s friends provided search points for emergency service crews to investigate.

“They’ve pointed us to a couple of remote locations which are quite popular with our back skiers, so we’re focusing on that area,” he said.

“We’re hoping that some aerial support will give us better eyes from the sky.

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“We’re very fortunate that this morning, the rescuers who have gone out to the mountain so far have reported good conditions but unfortunately … that could change at any time.

“If the weather closes in or picks up, we’ll revisit but we intend to go until the last bit of light.”

Supt Klepczarek said the skier may have made himself some shelter but his personal beacon had not yet been activated.

“The minute that goes off, we will receive [the skier’s] immediate location,” he said.

“There’s numerous possibilities … but we’re hoping it’s as simple as you know, the mobile phones died, or maybe he was just wanting to stay an extra night.

“We’re just focusing on positives, we’ve got good coverage of rescuers out there and it’s my intention is to have a positive outcome.”

Supt Klepczarek said a dozen people had been reported missing in the snow this season.

“A lot of the time, [skiers] intend to go for five to 10 kilometres and then all of a sudden, the snow comes in and they just stay put,” he said.

“Then the family go ‘oh, they haven’t come back yet’, but they’re just staying put, so it’s not uncommon for people to overstay a trip.”

The skier’s family have requested privacy during this time, asking for his name not to be released.

8 am: Emergency services will scour Kosciuszko National Park backcountry near Jindabyne as they search for a missing skier.

The 23-year-old man told family members he was going cross-country skiing on Saturday (3 September) at about 10 am and failed to return or make any further contact.

Investigations began when he didn’t return, with police finding his vehicle at Guthega car park later that day.

He’s been described as an experienced skier and “well-equipped” for the trip, as it’s believed he had a Personal Locator Beacon, limited day supplies, and adequate equipment for backcountry conditions.

A coordinated search with specialist police from the Alpine Operations Unit, State Emergency Service (SES) and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will continue today (Monday, 5 September).


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