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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow

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?

Continue reading “Is this what climate change looks like?”

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?”

How much snow is on it’s way?

There were some snowfalls across the Alps last week, and now snow lovers are getting excited about an incoming air mass that could start to deliver significant snowfalls over the weekend or in to next week. As always, the hype probably outweighs the reality. But to be a skier or rider in Australia is to be an eternal optimist.

Continue reading “How much snow is on it’s way?”

‘Atmospheric rivers’ threaten snow pack

We are all familiar with the impacts of climate change on snow in Australia. For instance, the snow pack has been in decline since 1957. And a report commissioned by the Victorian government suggests that the end of natural snow could be as close as a couple of decades.

One obvious phenomena we have seen often in recent years has been weather coming down from the tropics in north western Australia. These rains are often ‘snow killer’ events which can massively impact on the snow base.

Continue reading “‘Atmospheric rivers’ threaten snow pack”

The IPCC report – what does it mean for mountain environments?

The long awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Report has now been released.

As expected, it is an urgent wake up call to our political leaders to actually start to take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis. While the information is not really ‘new’, it does remind us of the incredible urgency of taking climate action. Now.

The IPCC says ‘many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion – such as continued sea level rise – are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years’.

However, they do remind us that ‘strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change’. So let’s get to it.

What are the implications for mountain lovers in this new report?

Continue reading “The IPCC report – what does it mean for mountain environments?”

It’s getting hot in here

Australian skiers, boarders and other snow lovers know that our snowpack is often pretty erratic. Last winter saw ‘boom and bust’ snow events then heavy rain that destroyed the base. We all know the misery of rain and drizzle when it should be snowing.

We know that because of climate change, our snow pack has been in decline since the 1950s.

Without serious action on the global scale to reduce emissions, we will see more and more winters like 2020: erratic, sketchy snowpack and lots of rain events.

Continue reading “It’s getting hot in here”

‘State of the Climate 2020’ – what does it mean for mountain environments?

The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO have just released their updated ”State of the Climate’ report. This is produced every two years and provides an update on what is happening with the latest climate science. As in previous report’s, the impacts of climate change on the Australian landscape are clear. There are also some specific details for people concerned about mountain environments.

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Winter of The Little Things

I don’t know about you, but I’m a winter person. I daydream about snow through summer, sneak off to the mountains in autumn to get that sense of oncoming winter, and once the snow arrives, I’m there. My New Year’s Eve is the end of the ski season. Having New Years in the middle of endless summer heat never made sense to me, but the end of the season, when thousands start to head off the mountains and quiet returns, really marks the end of the year for me.

Like other snow addicts I anxiously check the season outlook. Those big falls in May and early June gave me hope for a good season in 2020, in spite of the fact that we just had two great winters and three in a row was going to be pushing our luck. 

Then came lockdown 1 and 2, the closure of the VIC resorts, and a pretty ‘uninspiring’ winter.

Continue reading “Winter of The Little Things”

WINTER LIGHT: the Tasmanian mountains in winter

Well known Tasmanian landscape photographer Grant Dixon is launching a new book. Grant has been exploring the Tasmanian wilderness for some 40 years and undertaking trips to the mountains in winter for much of that time, capturing images featuring both grand vistas and intimate details of the winter landscape.

Grant says ‘I’m publishing a high quality, hard cover photographic book in the Tasmanian tradition of fine art productions and of using photography to activate awareness of the environment. The book features 89 images, captured over several decades, of the Tasmanian mountain landscape in winter’.

In his foreword, writer and photographer David Neilson states, “this exceptional collection of alpine images clearly reveals Grant’s outstanding artistic vision. ….. The human spirit desperately needs wilderness and Grant’s photos speak to us passionately of that need.

Grant has organised a pre order crowd fund to print the book. You can buy a copy of the book, please check here for details, and collect in Hobart, or have it posted to you. There are some great images and calendar on offer for people who are able to contribute more.

Continue reading “WINTER LIGHT: the Tasmanian mountains in winter”

If we stay at home, we might get a ski season.

Yes, many of us are getting a bit stir crazy after weeks at home.

And every snow addict in the country is frothing to get up to the mountains after that incredible dump of powder.

We’re all seeing those videos and pics of our mates getting first tracks.

It’s hard to stay the course and stay at home.

But our actions now will have a real impact on government decisions about whether to allow resorts to open this winter.

Continue reading “If we stay at home, we might get a ski season.”

Snow! Plans.

This current burst of cold has certainly made the conversation about ski season more real. Many of us are expecting an announcement – at least in Victoria – by mid May (the 11th is the date that the Victorian government will announce what next for the society wide lock down). The NSW police commissioner has said the state’s restrictions on outdoor movements and public gatherings would remain in force for at least 90 days, but that he was hopeful of being able to relax them beyond that date: 29 June.

For business operators, international instructors, local staff, and all snow lovers the wait is agonising.

I recently posted a poll on twitter, asking what people thought would happen this winter: a full ski season. Late start. Or no season at all – with or without the option of backcountry skiing. It was a small group that responded, but around 2 thirds felt there would be no season.

Continue reading “Snow! Plans.”

#ClimateImpactVic map launched

Act on Climate Victoria, the climate change campaign at Friends of the Earth Victoria, has launched an interactive map which shows details of climate change impacts on local communities, businesses and landscapes across the state.

It notes that snow cover has declined across the Alps since the 1950s. You can submit your observations of climate change impacts for inclusion in the map.

Continue reading “#ClimateImpactVic map launched”

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