Post the covid lock downs, years still seem long, and time seems more malleable. Its harder to plan for things, because of the risk of covid. Life feels different but familiar. And 2022 was fantastic as we had a whole year for unbridled exploring and adventures.
Thankfully we had another mild summer, with no large fires in the mountains.
There were incredible early snow falls, making Opening Weekends fun across the resorts, and resulting powder frenzy madness in the resorts – overcrowding, car parks full, record numbers of people, and the continual growth of the ‘snow play’ visitors. Businesses are (finally) making some money, and there was plenty of work for those who wanted it. There were, of course, the same old staff accommodation pressures. The backcountry was great, with quite a bit of avalanche activity at times. And then, mid season, there was that depressing, massive rain event followed by wet snow (hello, climate change). Although snow was lost at lower elevations, we saw the season out with decent snowpack.
As Weatherzone noted at the end of the season: ‘High elevations of Australia’s mainland snow country saw the third-best peak snow depth of the 21st century, but at lower elevations it was a dismal year, while Tasmania barely saw any consistent snow cover at all.’
Then we had a wet spring, which created fantastic conditions for paddling, including many rivers that normally are normally viable.
And now we swing into a third mild summer, although El Nino is back on the horizon, so next year may be very different.
On the environmental front it was relatively quiet: This year, the long running campaign against plans for a cable car up the face of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, above Hobart had another significant win. While the proponent is yet to admit defeat, it seems ever less likely that this monstrosity will ever be approved.
In Victoria, the scale of logging that is still occurring across the high country became apparent, with logging planned near Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages), Mt Stirling, and the pristine catchment of the Little Dargo River. Many other areas that survived the fires of 2019/20 have been logged over the past 12 months.
In terms of visitation to the site, it was a mix of backcountry adventure, traditional owner stories, and environmental politics at the top of the list. I have slowly been building content from First Nations people on the MJ site.
I produced a second print edition of the Mountain Journal magazine, as a collaboration with Many Lamont from Lamont magazine.
Top stories and sections for 2022:
- The ever popular ‘Side country stash’ guide to Mt Hotham
- Stories about the planned development at Falls Creek which would see winter clearing of the High Plains road from the village almost to the dam wall
- A story on Traditional names for Australian mountains
- A trip to Watsons Crag in winter
- A solo walk on the AAWT
- ‘Aboriginal traditional owners asserting their rights’
- The strange land of 12 Mile hill – about logging in the Victorian high country
- Logging at the Little Dargo river
- The Ducane traverse – the wonderful alpine traverse from the Overland Track to the Labyrinth, in the southern section of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair national park
I hope you’re having a wonderful summer out in the hills.
Some photos from winter 2022.
ABOVE: the VIC backcountry festival, Mt Hotham, September 2022