Avalanche Beacon Training Area opens at top of Kosciuszko Chairlift

After a long process, Mountain Safety Collective is excited to announce the installation of a new Avalanche Training Centre (ATC) at Thredbo in NSW, ready for winter 2023!

ATC Thredbo installation

The ATC being installed by MSC and Thredbo Ski Patrol team members on the first day of decent snow for 2023

ATCs (also called avalanche transceiver or beacon training parks) are a common sight overseas, often found in ski resorts that border complex backcountry terrain, such as Revelstoke, Jackson Hole or Chamonix. They provide a safe and controlled environment in which to practice searching for avalanche transceivers, either as an individual or as part of an avalanche safety training course.

In 2021, Mountain Safety Collective coordinated the installation of an ATC at Mount Hotham – the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It’s since been used hundreds of times each season by people honing their avalanche rescue skills and has become a core element of Mount Hotham’s ski patrol training program.

Of course, as soon as Victoria had an ATC, the question quickly turned to when NSW would have one too? Over the past couple of years, MSC has liaised with our partners at NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, local backcountry operators and ski resorts to determine the best options for where an ATC could be located and maintained long term. Funding for the new ATC was secured through MSC members, sponsors and Thredbo’s own financial contribution.

The key criteria for the NSW location was that it should be where a large number of people started their backcountry tours from, had reliable snow throughout the season and could be easily accessed for installation and maintenance.

Thredbo quickly emerged as a leading contender given the ability to install the ATC above 1900m for the longest possible use throughout the snow season, the huge number of people that start their ski tours from the top of Kosciuszko chairlift and the backcountry guiding operations that are based out of the resort. Support from the resort in terms of security of the equipment and access for maintenance was also a key consideration.

Five Thredbo and MSC representatives stand behind an ATC sign

Rachael Petrou, Craig Sheppard, David Kuhn, Rolf Shönfeld and Alex Parsons prepare the ATC for delivery to the Thredbo alpine

Thredbo’s Outdoor Operations Manager, Rachael Petrou, was an early champion of the project and played a pivotal role in helping steward the idea to fruition, connecting MSC with key Thredbo management staff including Luke Beaumont, Richie Carroll, David Kuhn and General Manager, Stuart Diver, for final approval. MSC’s agreement with Thredbo guarantees the ATC will have a home for at least the next five years, with the resort also being recognised as a key supporting sponsor of MSC.

To access the ATC at Thredbo, take the Kosciuszko chairlift and skin around the back of Eagle’s Nest towards the top of The Basin T-Bar and you’ll see the main sign on the right hand side above the Supertrail. This is right on the main route that everyone takes to access the Ramshead Range, Leatherbarrel Creek, Etheridge and Kosciuszko.

Map of ATC's location on the Thredbo trail map

Where to find the ATC behind Eagle’s Nest at Thredbo

Once there, you can follow the instructions on the sign to set up a search of up to three beacons at a time (out of six possible locations) with options on the time to complete the search in. The ATC is free for anyone to use when the resort is open and full details about the ATC operation are available on the manufacturer’s website.

Kosciuszko Chairlift is accessible with a backcountry access pass or Thredbo lift pass. Thredbo Backcountry Tours will also be incorporating the ATC into all of their introductory courses this season so guests get a chance to familiarise themselves with avalanche safety equipment and transceiver search skills.

If you have any questions about the ATC in the meantime, please ask any Thredbo Ski Patroller or get in touch with MSC.