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August 2012 Issue
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A massive avalanche sweeps down onto Milford Rd

This month Wilderness takes a closer look at avalanches in New Zealand (p36). Every winter we hear about avalanches either on groomed ski fields or in the backcountry, but unlike many other countries with similarly mountainous terrain the fatality rate in New Zealand is fairly low at just two people a year.

The recent death of nine climbers on Mt Blanc in the French Alps shows how large groups of people can be swept to their deaths. In New Zealand, such cases of group burials are rare, though they do happen. Even so, why do avalanches kill so few people in New Zealand?

Believe it or not, the experts, and those caught in avalanches, all say luck appear to play a major role. Unfortunately, sooner or later, luck tends to run out so it is possible New Zealand will one day experience the high fatality rates like those in France where 31 people a year are killed by avalanches. Being avalanche aware is the best way to ensure you stay out of the way of these terrifying snow slides.

The main feature this month is about getting outside as a family. Often parents struggle to enjoy the kind of trips and challenges they experienced before they had kids. Time, energy and the capability of their children are all factors to limiting their outdoor adventures. But thanks to active outdoor parents like Edith Leigh and Jo Stilwell – and the advice of our readers – we’ve put together a range of tips, trips and know-how to help you get back into the hills, kids happily in tow. Turn to p42 to learn how to start planning your family forays.

Wilderness won the Magazine of the year award in the sport and leisure category at the Magazine Publishers Association annual awards in June. Josh Gale won the Journalist of the Year award. It is a great success and recognition for the magazine, which enjoys a very loyal and committed readership – many of those readers share their trips and photos with us which we publish in the Wild Trips section of the magazine, so can deservedly pat themselves on the back for a job well done. But I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the team at Wilderness – our art director Pelin who makes the magazine so attractive and compelling each month, advertising sales manager Matthew John who ensures we can afford to publish each issue, the subscriptions and office admin girls Vivienne and Vanda who play such a crucial role in running the office and dealing with the enquiries of our readers, who are the single most important people associated with the magazine, and staff writer Josh Gale deserves special mention for his excellent feature writing which has helped keep Wilderness at the top of its game.

– Alistair Hall