Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


sustainable lifestyle

Climate change, snow sports and mountain environments

There can be little doubt that our fragile alpine environment is at risk from multiple sources, including feral animals and pests, inappropriate development, logging and climate change.

What is strange is that amongst major users of our mountain environments there is so little discussion about climate change. Ski resorts generally ignore the issue, while hunters, 4 Wheel Drivers and trail bike riders are no where to be seen. Many green groups are working to head off Australia’s contribution to climate change, but the snow industry is a stand out in it’s silence on the issue given they have so much to lose if predictions of dwindling snow falls are correct.

The following is a listing of articles from Mountain Journal that

  • cover the ecological and economic problems associated with climate change, and
  • initiatives by individuals, organisations and businesses to tackle the problem.

The Epicenter

The Epicenter is a great new cafe, opened in December 2014, that’s operating out of the ski school building at Telephone Box Junction on Mt Stirling.

Epicenter 2The Epicenter has a strong focus on mountain biking, and will be open throughout summer and autumn, then for the snow season as well. Along with Mountain Kitchen at Dinner Plain, this new operation is a stand out amongst alpine cafes: it’s small scale and friendly, with an authentic feel and commitment to adventure and mountain living.

Co-owner Hjalmar Arnold (Yully/Dingo) describes it as “the Riders Lifestyle in a shop, year round” and “the Gateway to the Alpine Backcountry”. There is no doubt that the MTB trails developed in recent years on Mt Buller and Stirling are some of the finest in the country. Yully helped build them, and is a great source of knowledge for first time riders.

They have great food, much of it made on the premises, and excellent coffee. Please drop by and support this great initiative.

There are additional renovations going on to extend the facilities at TBJ, which will be ready for winter 2015.

You can find their facebook page here.

the Dinner Plain Clean Energy Initiative

The Dinner Plain Clean Energy Initiative is a great new program. It aims to offer cheaper, pollution free electricity generated from renewable sources, as well as new technology alternatives to replace antiquated, polluting and expensive gas heating and hot water systems.

You can switch your electricity supplier here.

For every person that switches, Powershop will make a donation to the DP Community Energy project. You can also switch your Melbourne home using the above link to support the DP Community.

Continue reading “the Dinner Plain Clean Energy Initiative”

The Little Things boarding film launched

“We live in remarkable times. What is done, or isn’t done, in the next few years will determine the future”

– David Suzuki

“We need people to fall in love with the outdoors. Without that personal connection with nature it’s hard to get them to protect it”

– Jeremy Jones

Legendary snow boarder Jeremy Jones and environmentalist David Sukuki provide the narrative to the film The Little Things, which has just been released.

The Little Things is a snowboard movie project based on “environmentally conscious riders who are inspirational through their riding, as well as their sustainable ways of living and thinking”.

1233966_447889521993325_1612016137_nThe film is an initiative taken on by professional snowboarder Marie-France Roy and directed by Filmmaker Darcy Turenne in which all the riders are bringing to life the importance of protecting and living in balance with our environment.

100% of the proceeds from the film will be donated to Protect Our Winters (POW) and The David Suzuki Foundation (DSF). The film makers say that “the goal is to bring snowboarding one step ahead, while inspiring positive change that will secure the same lifestyle and quality of life that we have for future generations”.

You can see the trailer (and buy the film) here

getting more kids into the outdoors

Outdoors Victoria was established in 2012 as Victoria’s peak body for the outdoors community with a focus on advocacy.  Its purpose is to:

Build a valued and sustainable outdoor community for the benefit of the community and natural environment by enhancing, connecting, and advocating on behalf of outdoor education, outdoor recreation, outdoor therapy and nature based tourism.

Today they are launching their policy ‘asks’ for the Victorian state election.

Policy Priority 1 – Help kids get outdoors
Giving children better opportunities to learn and play in nature leads to lifelong improvements in their education, health and wellbeing outcomes.

Policy Priority 2 – Invest in the regional outdoor economy
Strategic investment in outdoors infrastructure and events, as well as ecosystem health, is a powerful driver of prosperity and wellbeing for regional Victoria.

Policy Priority 3 – Unlock the potential of the outdoor community
The full potential of commercial and community-based outdoor organisations can be realised through skills development, smarter regulation and research.

Full Policy Agenda

You can download a full copy of their policy agenda here and for more information please email them at

Climate change and the mountain environment. The denial continues

A few years ago I traveled with a Sherpa climber who had summited on Mt Everest many times, set some speed records, and even helped carry a statue of the Buddha to the summit. I remember him talking about how the mountain was becoming more dangerous because of global warming, with more exposed rocky sections and risk of ice fall.

Every year, as I wait for the season forecast, like other skiers and riders I hope for the best. A good year – like the one we just had – seems like a blessing when you consider what we know about climate change and the likely impacts on mountain environments world-wide in coming years. Climate change is coming and ignoring the science will not make it go away.

I find it remarkable that ski resorts in Australia, who by definition rely on good winter snow falls, have generally ignored the issue of global warming. I find it strange, and sad, that we have so few famous Australian skiers and riders willing to speak out on the issue. I look to the example of people like boarder Jeremy Jones, the inspiration of Protect Our Winters, and initiatives like The Little Things, a snowboard movie project based on environmentally conscious riders who are inspirational through their riding, as well as their sustainable ways of living and thinking.

So, lacking local leadership from the snow sports community and industry, we still need to look overseas for some inspiration. I thought these recent comments from alpinist Kitty Calhoun (lifted from the Patagonia Australia) blog were worth sharing.

“I’m here to tell a story about a Last Ascent. A route that I climbed, that may not get a repeat because of climate change. It’s hard to admit that the mountains are changing but they are. We may or may not be able to affect climate change, but I think we should at least try and I have a new approach.

We many not agree on what is causing climate change, but all can agree on the fact that it is occurring. Alpinists are like canaries in a coal mine in that we see changes that have occurred on the glaciers in our lifetime. These changes are evident not only far away in the Himalayas, but in our own back yards. Routes that my son may have dreamed of climbing are falling apart and no longer safe. I will highlight a few climbing objectives that I have done, that may not get a repeat ascent due to unsafe conditions brought by climate change. Climbers generally celebrate a first ascent of a route. The concept of doing a last ascent never occurred to the generation before me. Some argue that it is self-aggrandizing to think we could affect climate change, but I think it is worth a try.

My lifestyle of minimalism has been the key to my success in the mountains and I think it can provide a framework for interaction with our environment. Minimalism is not simply “doing without”, but a constant reassessment and focus on what is important. Alpinism and the more general concept of minimalism is a fundamental choice about the way we live – it is an attempt at a more “mindful” way of life. This attitude is critical to our relationship with the mountains and the earth”.

The Little Things – getting closer

Mountain Journal has previously reported on this impressive film project. The Little Things  is a snowboard film featuring the “stories of riders who are inspiring for their environmentally sustainable initiatives and lifestyles”.

They have carried out a successful crowd funding project and have two trailers available. The following update comes from the producers.

Continue reading “The Little Things – getting closer”

Global rock climbers alarmed at cable car proposal

This is impressive. A remarkable group of climbers have joined together to express their opposition to the proposed cable car development on Mt Wellington/ kunanyi in Hobart. There are some real luminaries of the climbing world signed on, and this will help bring international attention to this ridiculous project.

Continue reading “Global rock climbers alarmed at cable car proposal”

winter on it’s way

With a couple of good dustings across the Alps in early May, everyone is getting impatient for winter. Thoughts turn to the big questions in life: when will we get that first serious dump? What trips am I going to do? Do I need any new gear?

If you’re getting ready for the first serious falls and opening weekend, maybe it’s time to think about:

ethical gear.

The Green and Sustainable gear site brings together information and listings on green and ethical outdoor gear, including what is still produced locally.

There are also a growing number of outdoor equipment producers who are paying attention to ensuring they have good working conditions in their factories. A lower impact snow industry is certainly getting closer every year – but only if we support it.

our carbon footprint.

Here in Australia, a trip to the snow usually means a lot of hours sitting in a car. But most resorts are well serviced by buses. Perhaps think of doing at least one trip a year by bus, as a practical way of reducing your impact. There are various ‘carbon calculators’ that are available so you can measure – and hopefully – reduce the impacts of your lifestyle.

If you’re a backcountry skier/ boarder, one option is to use buses to do longer tours: eg starting at Falls Creek and ending at Hotham.

hassle the resorts.

Most Australian ski resorts have given up on acting in any meaningful ay to reduce their contribution to global arming. In the US and Europe, many resorts are implementing a range of energy efficiency programs, sourcing green power (and even producing their own) and other measures. Resorts here have abandoned meaningful commitment to reducing impact.

If you stay in a resort, why not give them some feedback about the need for them to show leadership in responding to climate change?


Up high, just that bit closer to the sun, we need our sunblock. But what about the hidden nasties? Check here for a guide to nano free sunscreens.

keep your recycling hat on.

At home, most of us nowdays think about the little things that make a big difference: separating the rubbish from the recycling, turning off the lights when we leave the room, keeping an eye on water and energy use. A big problem with the massive influx of people to resorts in winter is that lots of them seem to leave their conscience at home when they are on holidays. Wasteful behaviour, lower recycling rates, cranking up the heating while leaving the door open. We’ve all seen it.

But if we can look after these things at home, we can certainly do it while on holidays …

protecting the Alps.

Climate change is an ever a greater risk to the mountains that we love and enjoy. Please think about supporting one of the groups that campaign on climate change or protecting the Alps.

A few ideas here:

Friends of the Earth Australia

Protect Our Winters

More ideas and contacts for local groups here.

‘The Little Things’ snowboarding film

TheLittleThingsMovie-EarthDaytrailer-April14-fiAs a contribution for Earth Day (April 22) Snowboarder magazine released a trailer for the snowboarding film ‘The Little Things’.

They say:

As snowboarders, we are explicitly tied to the outdoor world. We depend on ample snowfall, cold temperatures, and healthy forestland to provide us with areas in which to strap in and make turns. And that’s just the tip of the environmental iceberg. Fuel to power our cars, trucks, and snowmobiles (and if we’re lucky, helicopters). Power for chairlifts, resources to make equipment, the list goes on and on, and for most of us, the impact of everything doesn’t enter our minds that often when we’re moving from edge to edge down corduroy or through fresh snow. But, and in no way do we or the folks involved in The Little Things Movie intend to be pushy, being considerate of our environment is something vital to take into consideration. Especially for snowboarders.

The Little Things is a snowboard movie/documentary based on environmentally conscious riders who are inspirational through their riding, as well as their sustainable ways of living and thinking. The film to be released fall 2014 is an initiative taken on by professional snowboarder Marie-France Roy and directed by Filmmaker Darcy Turenne in which all the riders are bringing to life the importance of protecting and living in balance with our environment. Riders include Gretchen Bleiler, Tamo Campos, Jeremy Jones, Mike Basich, Meghann O’Brien, Jonaven Moore, Marie-France Roy, and friends.

You can find the trailer here.


STEPS – A Journey to the Edge of Climate Change (the whole film)

StepsFrom Ride Greener.

After storming cinemas and film festivals across Europe and North America, the first climate-friendly ski and snowboard film, STEPS, is now available online for everyone to watch. STEPS is there to show us how we can snowboard and ski in harmony with nature – without giving up any fun.

Choose how much you pay: You can watch STEPS for FREE or make a DONATION to Ride Greener. Each voluntary donation will be reasonably used and 100% invested in the Ride Greener environmental campaign.

You can watch the film here.

Donation information here

Human-Powered Mountaineers

Image: Human-Powered Mountaineers
Image: Human-Powered Mountaineers

I love these people: Human-Powered Mountaineers use bikes to access the peaks for their adventures (as well as promoting sustainable food production and lifestyles).

Human-Powered Mountaineers is a grassroots organisation that was started by Justene Sweet and Christopher Bangs.  Their mission involves climbing mountains completely under their own power all the way from their own doorstep.  To accomplish this they incorporate the use of their bicycles to get them from their homes to the trailheads, and then they start climbing from there. They are based in Bozeman, Montana.

They say:
 Our mission is to inspire people to be passionate about environmental stewardship through bicycle advocacy, and local organic farming. We aim to educate people about creating a positive change in the world  through simple daily actions, while continuing to live life to the absolute fullest of  potentials.

A current project they have this (northern) winter is to climb and ski the highest peak in each of the 7 mountain ranges that surround Bozeman. All 100% human-powered on a 100% plant based diet.

This project is raising money for our grassroots networks; BIKE TO FARM, and School Slide Show Series.

They attempted all 7 peaks and summited on two.

As they say in the wrap-up,
winter human-powered ski mountaineering IS REALLY FREAKING HARD!!!!!!!

Check the site for some excellent videos of their attempts on the peaks.

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