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Mt Bogong

Walk to Mt Wills

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages) is protected in the Alpine National Park. It sits high above the town of Mount Beauty and is a drawcard for hikers, skiers and backcountry snowboarders. It is an alpine wonderland of wildflowers in summer and deep snow in winter.

However, surrounding areas continue to be logged. And now a series of logging coupes are proposed along the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) between Mt Bogong and Mt Wills. Additionally, a coupe is planned in the headwaters of the Mitta Mitta River, close to the AAWT.

If this concerns you, please join us for a walk to Mt Wills on saturday March 18. It is about a 90 minute walk up a good 4WD track to reach the summit. We will take a photo of the group on the summit with Mt Bogong as our backdrop as part of our campaign to build awareness about this new threat to mountain forests.

Continue reading “Walk to Mt Wills”

Join us for a walk up Mt Bogong/ Warkwoolowler to oppose logging of mountain forests

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages) is protected in the Alpine National Park. It sits high above the town of Mount Beauty and is a drawcard for hikers, skiers and backcountry snowboarders. There are no roads on the mountain, and access is slow because of the steep climb up from the valley. It is an alpine wonderland of wildflowers in summer and deep snow in winter.

However, surrounding areas continue to be logged. And now a series of logging coupes are proposed along the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) between Bogong and Mt Wills. Additionally, a coupe is planned in the headwaters of the Mitta Mitta River, a major river which starts on the Bogong High Plains.

If this concerns you, please join us for a walk to Mt Bogong on Friday January 20. We will walk up Staircase Spur. We will take a group photo with banner on the summit as part of our campaign to build awareness about this new threat to mountain forests.

Continue reading “Join us for a walk up Mt Bogong/ Warkwoolowler to oppose logging of mountain forests”

Logging threat to Victoria’s high country

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages, meaning the mountain where Aboriginal people collected the Bogong Moths) is protected in the Alpine National Park. It sits high above the town of Mount Beauty and is a drawcard for hikers, skiers and backcountry snowboarders. There are no roads on the mountain, and access is slow because of the steep climb up from the valley. It is an alpine wonderland of wildflowers in summer and deep snow in winter.

Most people approach the mountain from the Ovens Valley or across the Bogong High Plains. There is another route on the eastern side, following the appropriately named Long Spur to Mt Wills. This is all high elevation woodland and forests, and is the route by which the famous Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) leaves Bogong as it heads towards the Snowy Mountains. The 700 km long AAWT crosses the Alps from Walhalla to the outskirts of Canberra, and follows Long Spur from Bogong to Mt Wills before turning south and dropping into the valley of the Mitta Mitta River.

Mt Wills itself is a magical ‘island in the sky’ of isolated snow gum woodland, largely dominated by older trees. While it is connected by the long and high ridge back to Bogong, mostly the land around the mountain falls away to deep river valleys and forests that are initially dominated by Alpine Ash.

A new threat to these mountains

The higher mountain areas on this side of the Bogong High Plains are largely intact, although significant areas have been burnt, often several times in close succession, in recent years. But now there is a threat posed by logging in the area where the AAWT/ Long Spur track starts the climb up to Mt Wills, which would create a large clear cut area of more than 100 hectares.

Continue reading Logging threat to Victoria’s high country

Mt Wills – a precious sub alpine plateau in need of protection

As we waited for the snow to arrive last week, it seemed like the right time for the annual pilgrimage to Mt Wills. I have often written about what a special mountain it is, tucked away behind the eastern fall of the Bogong High Plains and Mt Bogong (named Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages). I love that strange hut on the little summit plateau, the grassy meadows with old snow gums scattered everywhere,  the endless rock outcrops and rocky escarpment on the east side.

Mt Wills is a classic ‘island in the sky’ of isolated snow gum woodland. While it is connected by a long and high ridge back to Bogong, mostly the land falls away to deep river valleys and forests initially dominated by Alpine Ash. It feels like a small sub alpine sea poking out into the upland valleys of the eastern Alps. I love the silence and perspective back to other mountains. But what really draws me back year after year are the ancient snow gums.

Continue reading “Mt Wills – a precious sub alpine plateau in need of protection”

Chillfactor 2021

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.

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Traditional names for ‘Australian’ mountains

I am keenly aware that no Aboriginal group or nation ever ceded it’s land to the colonisers. So those of us living in Australia are all living on stolen land. There is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be resolved, starting with negotiating a meaningful treaty between First Nations and the rest of the people living on this continent.

For a long time, indigenous people and traditions were white washed out of mainstream narratives about the mountains. As traditional owner groups reassert their connection to Country, that is slowly changing, and we can see it across the Alps. The first Aboriginal person I knew who had a strong connection to the mountains was Eddie Kneebone, who I met through our campaign work in north east Victoria in the 1990s. He had an astonishing depth of knowledge. He was instrumental in the campaign to have the Niggerheads on the Bogong High Plains renamed. It got me thinking about the power of language and names.

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Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?

With ski resorts announcing their plans for the season (and resorts having considerable control over access to many backcountry skiing and riding access points) we now have a sense of what winter will look like.

The key message is that if you’re planning to access backcountry via a resort you need to organise entry before you go. But there are many options outside resort areas.

Continue reading “Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?”

Fires close a number of mountain areas in NE VIC

There are a number of fires that have started as a result of lightning strikes in the Victorian High Country.

There are three fires in the north east that have caused a number of areas to be closed to walkers – these are to the east of Mt Bogong and two along the eastern side of the Bogong High Plains.

Additionally, there are 13 fires in total burning in remote areas of forest in north east Victoria. The other fires are located in the Tallangatta Valley, Dandongadale, Abbeyard and Mount Selwyn.

DELWP says: ‘The remote locations of these fires are proving to be challenging for our crews and we fully expect them to burn for a number of weeks as firefighters work hard to contain them’.

Authorities say that the fires are behaving in ways expected in January and February as fuel loads are so dry.

Continue reading “Fires close a number of mountain areas in NE VIC”

Crazy conditions in the backcountry

The Alps have a remarkable variety of conditions in the backcountry at present and it would be wise to carefully scope slopes before committing.

In the Hotham area there are significant patches of water ice which have formed over the snow and large areas of ice sheets. In wind affected and exposed locations, the sastrugi can be have and very difficult to ski. But depending on aspect, there are also sun affected slopes that offer forgiving conditions on northerly and north west facing slopes. However, there was a significant sized wet slide of snow at Mt Buller today (Aug 31) and potential for wet slides in other areas that have become loaded with wet and heavy snow. On some slopes in the north east of the state, runs start nicely but have continuous sheet ice on lower sections. This has been reported on popular sidecountry runs like Women’s Downhill at Mt Higginbotham.

The take home message is that there is a wild variety of conditions and some of these are very dangerous. Please be very cautious in your backcountry travels and take particular care to scope slopes for ice before committing.

The tragic death of Dave Blair on Mt Bogong this week underscores the dangerous conditions. It is understood that Dave hit ice and crashed into trees in the Eskdale Spur area. A recent major rescue at Mt Hotham was required after an experienced rider took a long slide on ice and hit a tree in avalanche gully.

Remember to check the Mountain Sports Collective backcountry conditions bulletin before heading out.

[IMAGE: the southern slopes of The Twins in north east Victoria earlier this week. These slopes were dangerously ‘bulletproof’].

UPDATE: SEPT 2

Conditions are still very patchy. For instance, Dargo Bowl at Hotham is skiing nicely, but adjacent slopes are still bullet proof.

Bill Barker, head of Hotham ski patrol says:

“A short period of border-line precipitation during the early evening followed by the cooling in the early hours will mean most aspects and elevations will now have a solid melt freeze surface and will pose a very significant sliding hazard. Solar aspects will soften for good spring turns once the day warms but be very cautions of south facing slopes that will stay hard all day. There may still be patches of dry snow at the very top but this will most likely turn to bullet proof ice mid slope. Take care out there”.

Lets Split – 2019 tours

Lets Split is again hosting splitboarding tours this winter. There will be 3 days trips and 2 overnight trips in 2019, both in Victoria and NSW.

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Winter 2019 is go!

With continued snowfalls expected this week, we’re looking as if we will have a proper (settled) base across higher ranges and hence an early start to the ‘season’ (yes, ‘ski season’ is just a capitalist construct).

You’re probably planning trips. Here are a few resources that might help:

Continue reading “Winter 2019 is go!”

Alpine Quest Adventure Race

The Alpine Quest Adventure Race is a navigation-based team event to be held on Australia Day weekend (Jan 25 – 28) for teams of four, who need to stay together the whole time.

It consists of kayaking, mountain biking and trekking legs with some ‘additional challenges’. It will happen out of Falls Creek resort in north east Victoria.

Continue reading “Alpine Quest Adventure Race”

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