2020 was the ‘Year that Wasn’t’ for many of us mountain lovers. Essentially no ski season in Victoria in the resorts, alpine parks closed, and no international travel to get to higher mountains elsewhere.

That had a huge impact on snow based and snow reliant businesses. As was reported recently in The Age, ‘During the 2020 snow season, Victorian alpine resorts received about 90,000 visitors, a 90 per cent decline on the previous year. The visitation collapse dealt a heavy financial blow, with economic activity plummeting to $109 million compared to more than $1 billion generated in the 2019 Victorian snow season’.

One small mountain business that made it through was Chillfactor, which is an essential part of Australian skiing culture. And the 2021 issue of the magazine is a great reflection on the winter that wasn’t.

As usual the magazine features wonderful images from some of Australia’s best mountain photographers.

Matt Wiseman provides an industry perspective on the 2020 season, how resorts coped (or didn’t), went covid-compliant, and the costs of closure on local businesses. As one industry rep noted, it was only the federal government’s JobKeeper that kept many businesses afloat last year. With continued closure of international borders and the likelihood of more local lockdowns, this will be another tough year for local businesses and resorts.

There are some great reflections from people who managed to be in the hills during winter 2020, an interesting piece on the 5 key challenges Australian resorts face (crowds, conservation, community, cost and climate change), and some great interviews with various mountain personalities.

As in other editions, there is a strong focus on local mountains, as well as stories from elsewhere – including ‘the year of the local in Hokkaido’. Major local pieces this year include life under Lock Down on Buller and Hotham, and great images from Watsons Crags in the Snowy Mountains and a spring trip to Mt Bogong.

There is also a long piece on the slow recovery of Falls Creek identity Steve Lee, who suffered a major stroke in 2020.


You can become a ‘Fiend’ (supporter) of Chillfactor here.

And find the website here.