ski mountaineering courses

Main Range Backcountry is offering ski mountaineering courses on the Main Range in the Snowies.

They say:

The rope can be a valuable tool for ski touring, but without any training in its use, can be dangerous or even provide a false sense of security. This course is designed to teach you basic rope handling and movement on snow and ice with crampons and ice axes. If you have a small group, the day can be customised to your needs, whether you want to access and ski big lines, with a larger margin of safety or are looking at getting into mountaineering from hiking or climbing.

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Backcountry film festival 2015

Now in its 10th year the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival celebrates the human powered winter experience through film. The festival aims to entertain while helping to raise funds and awareness for Winter Wildlands and our like-minded partners.

The Backcountry Film Festival premieres in Boise, Idaho, and then travels to more than 100 locations worldwide.  Along the way, it will be viewed by more than 20,000 outdoor enthusiasts and raise more than $110,000 each year for local organisations working on advocacy, snow safety, outdoor education and Snow School programs.

Melbourne show

Thursday May 21, 2015

Cinema at RMIT. Building 80.

Level 1, Room 2, 445 Swanston Street.

Suggested donation: $8 conc & students/ $15 waged.

All proceeds go to the Friends of the Earth climate campaign.

Facebook page here.

The cinema is Room 80.01.02 (It can be hard to find, best bet is to enter off A’Beckett Street, just by the Oxford Scholar Hotel (map here). Building 80 is on Swanston, between Latrobe and Franklin street, opposite the main RMIT campus.

Feel free to meet at the Oxford Scholar for a drink from 6.30pm. Please aim to arrive at the Cinema around 7, we will start the films at 7.15pm.

The festival will also be shown during the 2015 Splitfest (splitboarding festival) being held in the Snowy Mountains, on friday August 22 in Jindabyne.

Please check here for a listing of the films being shown.

Mountain Journal turns five

It’s autumn, and so it must be time for the annual reflection on the Journal. Hard to believe its half a decade old!

Much of my motivation in starting MJ was simply to create a forum where I could appreciate our mountains and the people who are drawn to live and play amongst them. Early on, I did a few interviews with people I admire, and always love to run stories on people getting out amongst our wonderful mountain environment.

Over the past few years, the visitation has swung towards politics and backcountry adventure. This was the case in 2014 in terms of visitation. Sadly this is probably because there have been so many negative decisions taken by the Victorian Coalition government as it relates to the High Country. With the election of the ALP in November, the key threat to the Alpine national park – alpine grazing – has again been stopped.

While MJ was never really planned to be a ‘track notes’ type site, it has been interesting to see very strong visitation to the few trip reports that have been posted.

Check here for the full report.

Snow season forecast

Last winter started late but saw fantastic snowfalls and a solid snowbase for most of the season. As we move into autumn all us skiers, boarders and snow lovers are wondering what 2015 might look like. One of the best sources is The Grasshopper, who writes for Mountainwatch.

Grasshopper has written up their forecast for the 2015 season, and the take home message is that:

We’re heading for an El Nino and it’s got a good chance of being a strong one.

A winter dominated by a ‘classic’ El Nino event generally means poor snowfalls because “Big fat highs sit down on south-eastern Australia, suppressing cloud and holding the fronts and rain from the southern oceans at bay”.

But Grasshopper notes that there are two possible forms of El Nino, the other being the so-called “Wrong-uns”:

“When these turn up the higher pressures don’t eventuate and the lower pressures move north to encroach upon Australia. This is going to mean more frequent and/or stronger westerly winds, and the air in those westerlies is going to be sourced from the southern oceans. We won’t necessarily get more precipitation, but when it does arrive it should be colder, and so more likely to fall as snow”.

This is the first forecast of the season, but the prognosis is not great:

“… in the meantime my forecast of peak snow depth at Spencers Creek this winter is a paltry, pathetic and potentially petrifying 140cm, with the first 50cm storm waiting until late July to pay a visit. That would make it the worst year since 2006, another Classic El Nino through June/July/August that only managed 85cm peak snow depth at Spencers Creek.”

There is the hopeful observation that:

“we’ll always have a roll of the dice that a couple of big storms will turn up during August”. Let’s hope.

Stay tuned for Grasshopper’s next forecast.

You can read the full report here.

Protecting the Kuark forest

The spectacular old growth forest of Kuark in East Gippsland provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders, Long footed potoroos and a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap” assemblage.

The state owned logging company VicForests plan on conducting extensive clear fell logging operations in the forest this year and local conservationists are getting organised to halt the proposed destruction.

Victorian conservation group, Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are stepping up their efforts to protect these forests from logging. The group have launched a citizen science program and public campaign to collect data and publicise the Kuark forest in the far east of Victoria.

Check here for the full story.

Perisher resort sold

The Australian is reporting that the Perisher resort has been sold to the US-based Vail Resorts conglomerate.

Crown casino chief James Packer and another private company have sold the Snowy Mountains’ Perisher Ski Resort to America’s Vail Resorts for $176.6m.

The sale, by Packer subsidiary Murray Publishers and Transfield Corporate, includes the resort areas Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega, along with ski school, lodging, food and beverage, retail, rental and transportation operations, the New York stock exchange-listed Vail said.

The deal will need approval from the NSW government.

Perisher, Australia’s largest ski resort, holds a long-term lease and licence with the NSW government under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, which expires in 2048 with a 20-year renewal option. Mr Packer’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings, inherited 75 per cent of Perisher in 1972 when it acquired Perisher Smiggins and the Perisher Hotel through its purchase of Murray Publishers.

Full article here.

Splitfest DownUnder 2015

The NSW Splitfest DownUnder will be held on weekend of the 21-23rd of August in the NSW main range.
Register here.

We will be holding the Friday night entertainment at the Banjo Paterson Inn Starting @ 6pm
1 Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne, Snowy Mountains, New South Wales.

There will be all the usual trimmings, T-Shirts, give a ways, raffles and loads of fun. Some of the prize categories include worst DIY job, most inventive Splitboard design etc. etc.

An official list will be out soon so stay tuned!

You have the option to stay in Jindabyne, camp in the National Park or my favorite camp on the peaks.
There will be rental gear available to those who need it. Jump on board and meet some new touring partners, the more the merrier!

This is a free event, there are no guides so you must be able to make your own terrain decisions.

High Country Harvest

The High Country Harvest is a food based festival featuring 40 events across north east Victoria over 10 days.

15 – 24 May.

From the organisers:

You are invited to sip, sample and savour the bounty grown and created by chefs, artisan producers, craft brewers and winemakers at more than 40 culinary events over 10 glorious days. Most events sell out quickly, so bookings are essential.

You can find details on all the events here.

High country cattle grazing ban in national parks likely to succeed

In an update to our recent report on the Victorian government introducing legislation to ban cattle grazing in the Alpine and Red Gum national parks, it now seems likely the legislation will pass through the Upper House.

The ALP controls the Lower House but will require at least two additional Upper House votes to have the legislation approved. The Weekly Times is reporting that this is now looking likely:

Many Upper House MPs still expect the Government to succeed despite its minority position.

At least two of the five cross-benchers are expected to join the ALP and Greens and vote the Bill through after it clears the Lower House.

While all minority parties say they are still waiting to see the legislation’s wording, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten said she was likely to support the ban, as was Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins.


Alpine grazing banned

In perhaps the final act of the long running alpine grazing saga, the Victorian government has introduced legislation into Parliament banning grazing in the Alpine National Park, as well as in the River Red Gum national parks.

The introduction of the National Parks Amendment (Prohibiting Cattle Grazing) Bill 2015 will amend the National Parks Act 1975 to prohibit cattle grazing for any purpose in these national parks.

Continue reading Alpine grazing banned

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


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