At 7:20 am on 12 July 1956 an avalanche swept down Mt Clarke on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains. It destroyed Kunama Hutte, a ski lodge built by the Ski Tourers Association in 1953 on a small knoll at the base of the mountain.
Eleven people were in the lodge when the avalanche hit. A kitchen table saved some skiers from being crushed when the beams supporting the roof fell in. The lodge manager Peter Kelly said, ‘I really don’t know how we got out of it. We really should have all been killed… I was sitting on the edge of my bunk and all I noticed was the deathly silence. After the wind and noise of the previous night it was uncanny. I heard a sort of a whine like the wind might make and then, bang, we got it. The Hutte started hurtling downhill and tipped forward. People were being thrown around everywhere, and beams and furniture were falling down from the top. As soon as I could, I called the roll and everyone answered but Roslyn. Then we all knew that something was wrong.’
The survivors found refuge a few hundred metres away in the tow house of the Northcote Ski Tow which also had beds. A message was radioed to Charlotte’s Pass and the ski patrol sent out a rescue party.
Contrary to rumour, there have been several other avalanche deaths in Australia. Perhaps the best known is a fatality in the late 1970's on the Golden Stairs at Mt Mawson ski resort in Tasmania.
Roslyn Twynam Wesche, aged 20, was the only child of Venn and Anne Wesche, enthusiastic skiers whose writings on Australian skiing were widely published. Roslyn Lodge at Thredbo is named in her memory.