A heliski operator's desire to ski in problematic conditions left little room for error, a coroner's hearing into the death of an Australian man in an avalanche last July was told today.

Llynden Riethmuller, a company director, died on July 24 last year after being buried by an avalanche in the Ragged Ranges, near Methven.

The area where ski company Methven Heliski took Mr Riethmuller had known poor stability and this contributed to the avalanche, technical services manger for the Department of Conservation Don Bogie told the Ashburton Coroners Court today.

The problematic nature of avalanche forecasting and the desire to operate in these conditions meant that there would have been little room for error, Mr Bogie said.

The possibility that clients would not follow guide's instructions added to this danger, he said.

It was highly likely that the avalanche was triggered by another skier in Mr Riethmuller's party passing over a weak point in the snow.

Lead guide for Methven Heliski Kevin Boekholt said he had instructed the party to stick very close to his tracks and to keep a distance apart so as to avoid avalanches.

When he reached the bottom of the run he saw that his clients had bunched up and were not following close to his tracks, Mr Boekholt said.

Mr Riethmuller had skied out to the right of his track and was caught when a secondary avalanche pushed him into the path of the main avalanche and he disappeared, he said.

Mr Riethmuller was dug out of the snow within a few minutes but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Ski guide Jonathan Morgan who was with the party and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate Mr Rietmuller died in a similar avalanche three weeks later.

Another Australian man, who was in Mr Riethmuller's group, was buried in the avalanche for 10 to 15 minutes before being rescued by Methven Heliski guides.

Department of Labour health and safety Inspector David Bellett said it was not possible to know whether provisions of the Health and Safety Act had been breached.

The inquiry into Mr Riethmuller's death before coroner Richard McElrea will continue tomorrow.

- NZPA