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Alpine Safety On The Agenda In Christchurch

Media Release: NZ Mountain Safety Council


Alpine Safety On The Agenda In Christchurch

The biennial Southern Hemisphere Alpine Conference (SHAC) formerly the Southern Hemisphere Avalanche Conference, broadens its focus to alpine snow environments, and brings together New Zealand and international delegates who are interested in helping to shape the future of alpine snow safety. Chief executive of the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) Mike Daisley is confident this year’s conference in Christchurch will further the sectors understanding of the challenges unique to the alpine environments of New Zealand.

“We’ve widened the scope of the SHAC this year to allow the community to positively influence a wider range of alpine recreation users," said Daisley

“One of our roles within the alpine community, as MSC, is to facilitate open and creative discussions about the often-unique challenges faced across the sector. This provides a mechanism for developing a better understanding regarding what causes alpine incidents,” he said.

“We’ve got pretty interesting maritime weather conditions in New Zealand influenced from the sub-tropical north and the sub-antartic south. Consequently, the weather is one of the main variables that can have a major impact on alpine recreation. This (SHAC) community is keen to work on how to better understand and manage risks in recreational and commercial applications,” Daisley added.

The conference aims to provide a platform for people interested in alpine snow environments to collaborate on ideas, to build strong partnerships that connect the alpine community together, and to generate opportunities to develop future strategies and collaborations that help more people stay safe in the outdoors.

This years SHAC has attracted notable New Zealand organisations - MetService, Department of Conservation, Skills Active and New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) Council - who have partnered with MSC to deliver the conference and have confirmed their ongoing commitment to alpine safety initiatives such as the SHAC.

Conference convener Laura Adams, a longtime advocate for safety and passionate alpinist is excited to see the conference widen its scope.

“Through the interactions and workshops at this year’s SHAC we’ve got a real opportunity to positively influence the safety mechanisms and interventions that are applied in New Zealand challenging alpine environments,” said Adams.

"We're privileged to have so many amazing speakers coming from a wide range of areas. It's truly inspiring to see the sector come together to share their insights and knowledge with the wider sector" she concluded.

Keynote speaker Roger Atkins, a Canadian Avalanche Specialist and Ski Guide, whose talk on evolution, adaptability and alpinism is highly anticipated. His talk focuses on non-conscious behaviors and ways of communicating that automatically support good decisions.

While the SHAC has over twenty presentations over two days, not all are from alpine rescue or practitioner backgrounds. There are also a range of presenters from several national scientific organisations and universities.

Principal Scientist for GNS Science Dr Simon Cox has been mapping Southern Alps geology for three decades and will provide a geological perspective of rock avalanche assessment, mountain hazards and landscape evolution in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, which occurs at a rate that is second to none in the world.

Mads Naeraa-Spiers Severe Weather Forecaster for the MetService discusses useful weather guidance; where to find it and how to apply it. His discussion focuses on the mechanisms for producing significant snow in New Zealand’s diverse mountain regions, avalanche problems and their evolution as well as applications to professional avalanche forecasting and public safety.

With a diverse list of presentations and applicable insights the full SHAC programme can be found by visiting the homepage of

The SHAC opens on the 17th of June, 2017 in Christchurch.


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