Earlier today, September 15th, the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory shared images of a size three deep slab avalanche in the Aoraki Region.
The Instagram post included a detailed summary of the incident and current avalanche conditions in New Zealand's Aoraki Region.
No injuries or fatalities were reported alongside this avalanche documentation. The avalanche was spotted on a southern aspect of the Liebig Range at roughly 2,400 meters. NZ Avalanche Advisory suspects that the avalanche was triggered naturally yesterday during intense winds that deposited large quantities of snow.
According to the NZ Avalanche Advisory, "The Persistent Weak Layer (PWL) problem has not yet been resolved." PWLs are weak layers in a snowpack that resist bonding to other layers. When these layers fail, they can cause large avalanches, meaning the presence of PWLs presents a distinct risk to backcountry travelers.
The NZ Avalanche Advisory states the Aoraki Region PWL is composed of "faceted snow crystals formed at the end of June."
The overall avalanche risk in the Aoraki Region is currently level 4, meaning "Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended."
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