Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



VIC backcountry festival happening this weekend!

After two years of cancellations due to covid restrictions, the stoke is building for the 2022 Victorian backcountry festival, which will happen over three days – September 2, 3 and 4 – at Mt Hotham resort and the surrounding terrain.

While the tours are now booked out (you can go on a wait list), there is still heaps to do.

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Introducing the Victorian Backcountry Companion

Simon Murray is one of those quiet legends of the backcountry community. You may not know his face, but if you do get out of resort in winter, you will know his work.

He was the brains behind the creation of Mountain Sports Collective, MSC (now the Mountain Safety Collective) which produces the daily backcountry conditions report. He produces the amazing maps sold via MSC, and initiated the ‘Slay Academy’ – training sessions in the high country. He is ridiculously talented at design, and came up with the ‘Barry’ image used for the Victorian backcountry festival and, back in the day, produced a great climbing guide for the Buffalo plateau (‘the Definitive guide to the granite paradise of Mount Buffalo).

Apart from organising the tour program for the 2022 Victorian backcountry festival, and getting some epic backcountry trips in, Simon has recently released the Victorian Backcountry Companion, which features an incredible range of tours, from beginner to expert.

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Backcountry festival registrations are now OPEN!

After a long wait, registrations to the 2022 Victorian backcountry festival are now open!

Happening over three action packed days – with tours, workshops, massive speakers program, demo village, ski in outdoor bar and lots more, the festival is back in real life after two years of having to operate online. Mt Hotham resort and surrounding side country and Alpine national park.

Once you register you will be able to book in to tours.

You can register via the VBCF website.

Victorian backcountry festival 2022 – Lineup announcement

Not great news today with the massive amount of rain that has come through the mountains. However, we have some good news for you. We are excited to announce the program for the Victorian Backcountry Festival 2022

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Mike Edmondson. Living the Dream.

If you follow social media related to backcountry skiing and riding in Australia, you are probably familiar with Mike Edmondson. His regular posts on touring in the Snowy Mountains are often beautiful and a nice reminder of what it looks like to be ‘Living the Dream’. Mike has a long connection to the mountains, a range of interests, and offers many services for people wanting to explore the Main Range.

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Alpine Odyssey – Toward the start line

Later this month, Huw Kingston will leave on his Alpine Odyssey, a winter crossing of the full length of the Australian Alps Walking Track. As he gets close to the start date, here is an update.

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Is this what climate change looks like?

In recent days there have been several reports of large avalanches occurring on the western slopes of the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains, in places like Watsons Crag and the Sentinel Peak area. These highlight the risks of skiing and riding on these large and often steep slopes and act as a reminder that, yes, avalanches do occur in Australia.

They may also be pointing to something else. Is this part of the future of backcountry skiing and riding as climate change kicks in?

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After Opening Weekend – what next?

After an incredible start to winter, the Alps now have a solid base of snow across higher elevations. There has been some great falls in lutruwita/ Tasmania as well. Resorts have just had big opening weekends (the ‘best start in 22 years’ according to many sources), with some resorts in NSW experiencing partial closure of roads at peak times due to the number of people trying to get to the slopes. Even Ben Lomond in Tasmania had the lifts turning. The snow pack in the backcountry is starting to consolidate nicely.

Everywhere, accommodation was full, venues were cranking, and the slopes were full of people getting their snow legs back and enjoying the novelty of skiing and riding in June.

So what happens now?

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Giving back to the mountains

Some chats with mountain people

These stories are taken from Mountain Journal #2, a magazine which is distributed across the mountain and valley towns of south eastern Australia (available as a pdf here).

This year we thought we would focus our stories on people who are actively doing good in and for the mountains. This is just the tip of the iceberg: there are the park rangers, the weather forecasters, the fire tower watchers, the garbos and mechanics and road clearers who keep the resorts open, the snow makers, and all the folks who keep the mountain communities open and thriving. But this is a start.

For many more stories and profiles please check here

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Victorian Backcountry Festival volunteer info nights

The Victorian Backcountry Festival is a 100% volunteer run event, by the community for the community. It will be back at Hotham this winter with an action packed schedule of talks, tours, workshops, a demo village and outdoors bar over three days in September.

Volunteering with us is a great opportunity to make new backcountry friends and join a group of like-minded outdoor individuals who want to help out and support the festival and the adventure community it represents. We are hosting 2 volunteer meetup events in early June, in Bright and Melbourne.

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Bush Search and Rescue

If you get lost in the mountains, one of the groups likely to be called in to find you will be Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR). BSAR is a dedicated volunteer search and rescue group active in the state of Victoria, and is a division of Bushwalking Victoria Inc.

BSAR participates in land-based search and rescue activities for persons lost in bush and alpine areas, in conjunction with and under direction from the Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad.

Mountain Journal is presenting a series of stories on people who are Giving Back to the mountains and the mountain community. This first in the series features the words of BSAR volunteer Warren Sanders, better known as ‘Sheepy’.

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‘Alpine Odyssey’ to cross Alps in winter

In a journey expected to take some 50 days, Huw Kingston will ski the 600 km length of the Australian Alps this winter and, along the way, ski at each of the 12 snow resorts in Victoria and NSW. His Alpine Odyssey aims to raise $50,000 for Save the Children’s Our Yarning project.

Starting in late July, Huw will traverse some of the most rugged country in Australia, diverting to ski at Lake Mountain, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Stirling, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Dinner Plain, Falls Creek, Mt Buffalo, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, Perisher and finally Selwyn Snow Resort, reopening this season after having been devastated in the Black Summer fires.

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