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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow sports

Climate change is driving fire and reducing snow pack

The country’s climate has warmed on average by 1.47C since national records began in 1910, according to the new State of the Climate report released earlier this week.

It reinforces what we already know about climate change impacts on mountain environments:

  • Since the 1950s, extreme fire weather has increased and fire seasons are starting sooner and ending later. We can see the impacts of this in burnt out snow gum woodlands and alpine ash forests in a state of ecological collapse.
  • Snow depth, snow cover and number of snow days have decreased in alpine regions since the late 1950s. (This decline has been known and reported on for years).

Continue reading “Climate change is driving fire and reducing snow pack”

“The world is on track to hit as much as 2.8C of warming this century”

Overall, the world has warmed on average just a little over 1oC since the start of the industrial revolution due to human caused climate change. We can see what this has done to winter in the Australian mountains. Snow pack has been in decline since at least 1957. Winter snowfalls are becoming more erratic. Climate change is already visible at lower elevation resorts in the Australian Alps. And recent climate research suggests that the Australian Alps may suffer from a loss of snow as climate change supercharges phenomena known as ‘atmospheric rivers’. These are long, narrow regions of high moisture content in the lower atmosphere that transport most of the water vapour from the tropics to the sub-tropics and midlatitudes,

A new report from UN Climate Change shows that while countries are ‘bending the curve’ of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, that these efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century. That would mean the end of winters as we know them.

Continue reading ““The world is on track to hit as much as 2.8C of warming this century””

Alpine Resorts Victoria takes on management of VIC resorts

On Saturday 1 October 2022, recent amendments to the Alpine Resorts (Management) Act 1997 came into effect.

Those amendments include the abolition of the Mount Hotham, Falls Creek, Mount Buller Mount Stirling and Southern alpine resort management boards and the Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council and the establishment of Alpine Resorts Victoria (ARV) as a single entity to manage Victoria’s six alpine resorts.  This has been long planned and with winter over, ARV is now starting the job of managing the resorts.

Continue reading “Alpine Resorts Victoria takes on management of VIC resorts”

An erratic winter reminds us about the reality of climate change

We know that climate changes is already impacting on the mountains we love. Longer fire seasons, longer droughts, less streamflow, warmer weather. And, of course, declining snowpack.

As we come to the end of a winter marked by classic Australian ‘Boom and Bust’ snow conditions, it is clear that we are on a trajectory towards milder winters and less snow. Snowpack has been in decline in Australia since at least the 1950s. And there are decades worth of studies, reports and media stories which make it clear what’s happening (for instance this story from The Age in 2018).

A new story published by the ABC written by Thomas Saunders reminds us yet again about what is happening in spite of bumper snowfalls in any particular winter.

Continue reading “An erratic winter reminds us about the reality of climate change”

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.

Continue reading “VIC backcountry festival happening this weekend!”

A quick look at the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management

In 2021, the New South Wales government released its 40-year plan to turn the Snowy Mountains into a ‘year-round tourist destination’. There were two aspects to these plans – a draft Special Activation Precinct plan, which outlined options for future growth in and around Jindabyne, and proposed amendments to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management (background available here).

The Park Plan proposed substantial new developments within the Kosciuszko National Park. Environmental groups expressed strong opposition to many of the plans outlined in the document. The NSW National Parks Association described the plan as ‘reckless proposals (which would) overturn more than 40 years of careful planning and management of the park.” 

Now, the final Kosciuszko National Park Amendment to the Plan of Management Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct has been released (available here).

Continue reading “A quick look at the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management”

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

Continue reading “Victorian backcountry festival 2022 – Lineup announcement”

What should be in Mountain Journal magazine #3?

For the second year, Mountain Journal appeared as a magazine. This year, the print edition was produced as a collaboration with Mandy Lamont of Lamont magazine. It was distributed across resorts and valley towns during early winter.

The plan is to keep producing a printed annual edition, and I would really appreciate your feedback about this year’s edition and your thoughts on what should be in the 2023 edition.

Continue reading “What should be in Mountain Journal magazine #3?”

Plans revealed for Falls Creek Lakeside Development project

The Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board (FCARMB) has released details about the proposed development of the Rocky Valley Lake foreshore. This focuses on the old Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) shed, which needs to be renovated to be usable.

The proposed developments are intended for year round use, meaning that the clearing of the Bogong High Plains road (which currently ends at the gate near Windy Corner) will be extended through to the Lakeside site. This will result in loss of crosscountry skier access, which FCARMB says will be ‘offset’ by an upgraded track to Nordic Bowl and beyond.

The new development will have a number of businesses, parking and public facilities and act as the staging point for winter backcountry touring on the east side of the High Plains.

Continue reading “Plans revealed for Falls Creek Lakeside Development project”

Local gear stores. If we don’t love them, we’ll lose them

We know that lockdowns and covid has been hard on all mountain businesses. Now, many are struggling to find enough staff as Australians head to the snow in droves. The rise in interest in backcountry skiing and riding was certainly good for some businesses through the hard winters of 2020 and 2021, and this year is providing a welcome boost. But, faced with the rise in online shopping and the buying power and reach of large chain stores, it’s remarkable that there are still so many locally owned outdoor gear shops in and around the Australian Mountains.

Here are a few of them. If we don’t support them, we will lose them. And as we know, all these places offer local knowledge in a way that online stores can’t.

Continue reading “Local gear stores. If we don’t love them, we’ll lose them”

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?

Continue reading “After Opening Weekend – what next?”

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