NSW Police launch Operation Snow Safe for 2023 ski season

NSW Police are urging the community to plan their journeys and stay ‘Snow Safe’ as the 2023 ski season commences this long weekend.

The official NSW snow season begins tomorrow (Saturday 10 June 2023), with ski resorts expecting crowds for opening weekend events, despite less-than-ideal conditions.

Additional police will be deployed to the Snowy Mountains region from across the state as part of the high-visibility police operation.

Visitors can expect to see officers from general duties, the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Southern Region Enforcement Squad, licensing police and other specialist officers – including trained Alpine Operators – throughout the season.

Southern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter APM, said while the slopes are yet to see heavy snowfalls, police will be out and about throughout the snow season targeting road safety, anti-social behaviour and personal safety.

“Our officers will be targeting any risky behaviour on local and arterial roads and alcohol-related crime in the local venues, as well as ensuring those on and around the mountain have taken the right precautions,” Assistant Commissioner Cotter said.

“Those headed to the snow over the coming weeks and months should take extra care and exercise appropriate caution on the roads, to make sure everyone arrives here – and back home again – safely.

“Make good decisions behind the wheel; keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others, take regular breaks and fix snow chains to your tyres in slippery conditions,” Assistant Commissioner Cotter said.

Monaro Police District Commander, Superintendent John Klepczarek APM, said local police efforts will be strengthened by additional resources.

“While conditions right now aren’t what we’ve experienced in the last couple of years, the snow will soon come, and that will bring crowds of visitors to the alpine area.

“Police will be out in full force to ensure the safety of the community, which is our number one priority,” Superintendent Klepczarek said.

“Additional staff will be seconded to Jindabyne from other police districts to bolster the work of our local police; they will have a high-visibility presence on our roads, in our licenced venues and around the slopes.

NSW Police are also urging hikers visiting the region to ensure their personal safety by submitting a Trip Intention Form and hiring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) before heading out into the national park. PLBs are free of charge by way of a refundable deposit from one of the National Parks and Wildlife Service centres located at numerous locations, including Jindabyne, as well as Perisher and Thredbo resorts.

It follows several recent close calls where three rescues took place over five days last month within Kosciuszko National Park including:

  • About 5.20pm on Wednesday 3 May 2023, officers attached to Monaro Police District were notified that a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) had been activated within Kosciuszko National Park. Two male hikers – aged 26 and 27 – had set out the day prior (Tuesday 2 May 2023) and had become lost on Tuesday afternoon near Mt Townsend. The men sought shelter under a rock outcropping where they spent the night, activating their PLB at 5pm the next day (Wednesday 3 May 2023). Officers attached to Monaro PD’s Alpine Operations Team, NSW Ambulance, Fire and Rescue NSW and the SES conducted a search, located the men about 10.15pm. They were both treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics for mild hypothermia.
  • About 9.30pm on Monday 8 May 2023, officers were notified that a skier had failed to return from Thredbo. A multiagency response set out and located the 54-year-old about 11.50pm inside a toilet cubicle at Eagles Nets at Dead Horse Gap. He was taken back to the village and did not require medical treatment.

Police are reminding those skiers, snow boarders and hikers to wear appropriate snow gear, carry enough supplies and have some form of communication device on them at all times.

“Snowfield conditions can be difficult to navigate. Visitors should expect bad weather and be prepared for it. Hikers – no matter how experienced – should stick to the tracks, as whiteouts and snow clouds can quickly and easily disorientate,” Assistant Commissioner Cotter said.

“Make sure you have a mobile phone with you at all times in case you get lost, tell someone when and where you’re headed and what time you’re expected to return. Personal Locator Beacons could make all the difference if you find yourself in strife, so take advantage of the device.”

Skiers, snowboarders and tobogganers are reminded to stay in designated areas.

A state-wide traffic operation will run throughout the King’s Birthday long weekend beginning at 12.01am Friday 9 June 2022 and ending at 11:59pm on Monday 12 June 2023. Double demerits will be in force throughout this period.

Further information on driving in snowfield conditions can be found by visiting the Centre for Road Safety website: https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/index.html

Hikers can contact the Snowy Region Visitor Centre for more information or visit: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au or www.environment.nsw.gov.au.

For general snow safety tips when visiting alpine regions, as well as useful links you can access: https://snowsafe.org.au/

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