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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Auden Schendler on climate change – skiers can make a difference

After a decade of inaction, the Australian snow industry is finally starting to engage meaningfully on the issue of climate change. With Perisher having been bought by the Vail Resorts group, it has been swept along in that companies efforts to achieve carbon neutrality for it’s operations by 2030. And Thredbo recently became the first Australian resort to formally join Protect Our Winters (POW) the activist group seeking to mobilise the snow sports community.

There is, of course, still plenty of room to move. Many resorts, like Mt Hotham, are still effectively in denial about climate change, opting for the ‘we’ll just invest more in snow making capacity’ option. But as the recent visit by POW founder Jeremy Jones showed, there is a significant interest in the snow community about climate change.

We are starting to see some great leadership from prominent skiers and riders like Nat Segal, who is a vocal advocate for climate action. The interview below comes from Powder magazine and features a conversation with Auden Schendler of the Aspen resort. Auden is often seen as a key global spokesperson on climate because of his work at putting Aspen on a sustainable footing. This reflection has some significant things to say about what is and what isn’t possible in the resorts and what is required if we are to take effective action to limit climate change.

Two salient points that stand out for me from this interview are:

“We have to acknowledge or understand as a starting point that to be sustainable has got to mean solving climate change.

On climate, if you’re not at risk politically or from public criticism, and if you don’t feel uncomfortable, if it doesn’t hurt, you’re probably not doing enough on climate”.

The take home message from Auden is that making your operations greener is not an end point. It’s part of the pathway to solving climate change. This is going to involve sustained and public advocacy for the adoption of policies which will tackle climate change in a meaningful way – ie, engagement in good old fashioned politics. As he eloquently puts it, it means advocating for ‘systemic change’.

He reminds us that the current option adopted by most resorts is simply not going to work:

‘You can’t adapt to where we’re headed … we’re headed toward four degrees Celsius’.

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The Parks Victoria Volunteer Track Ranger Program

This is a great program: Parks Victoria (PV) Track Rangers are volunteers who walk and camp along popular tracks during peak holidays in order to provide a presence in key visitation areas and providing hikers with up-to-date park information.

If you have good experience in remote area walking plus appropriate skills and the right personality, it’s a great opportunity to be out in some fantastic country and contribute in a positive way to the management of some of the state’s best parks.

It involves a 4 to 6 day commitment. Full details below.

Continue reading “The Parks Victoria Volunteer Track Ranger Program”

Australia’s southern most ski field

The Mt Mawson ski field in the Mt Field National Park is the southern most ski area in Australia. It’s a remarkable place, and while it’s of a low elevation, with very limited vertical terrain, and is subject to the notoriously fickle snow conditions to be found in Tasmania, it is a magical spot. It has several rope tows, and is a Club ski field composed of seven lodges, with no public accommodation. Its also a fairly solid 30 to 45 minute walk up the mountain to get to the ski field.

But like the surrounding ranges within the Mt Field national park, when its in condition its truly fantastic.

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A non profit system for mountain huts?

One of my key addictions in life is to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Wonderful mountains, fantastic snow, endless terrain, cool towns. And one of the best backcountry hut networks on the planet.

10th Mountain Huts is a non profit that owns and rents out backcountry cabins to skiers, hikers and mountain bikers (they also rent out a number of privately owned cabins). Most are fairly similar: they are based on a log construction and built on two levels, and they have everything you need for multiday trips: a kitchen with gas burners and all the gear you need to cook, a wood fired stove with large basin for melting snow, a small solar PV system for basic lighting, and even a small library (and mattresses – sheer luxury!). It means you can do multi day trips without the need for tents, stoves and fuel, and cooking gear. Many of the huts are above 11,000 feet asl, in mind blowingly gorgeous locations. And because you need to book them, you’re guaranteed of getting a bed.

Which, of course, gets me thinking about our hut system here in Australia. I’m not suggesting we set up a similar network. But as a non profit, 10th Mountain fills an interesting gap in the network of backcountry huts that tend to exist in mountain environments.

Continue reading “A non profit system for mountain huts?”

NSW Parks Service staff: a threatened species?

We need national parks. Primarily they exist to protect wild nature. But many of them provide wonderful opportunities for outdoor pursuits, recreation, relaxation and solitude.

But national parks need staff. To manage the land, control weeds and invasive species of animals, manage for fire, provide interpretation and education, look after visitors and park infrastructure like tracks and other facilities.

Sadly in NSW, the state government is carrying out a major ‘restructure’ of the Parks Service which, according to the Public Service Association (the public sector union representing Parks employees) “will cuts jobs and push hundreds and hundreds of years of experience out the door.”

Continue reading “NSW Parks Service staff: a threatened species?”

New track proposed close to Federation Peak

A group of investors are proposing a track to a remote wilderness lake at the base of Federation Peak in Tasmania’s South-West.

They have developed a consortium called the Geeves Effect, and are pushing for a 2.5 km track extension to ‘provide walkers with views of Lake Geeves’.

According to reports in The Mercury, they say that ‘the bushwalk could rival Cradle Mountain and Three Capes Tracks as a tourism magnet’.

The Bob Brown Foundation opposes what it calls an ‘invasion of the citadel of Tasmania’s wilderness by private enterprise using public money’, warning that it would open the door to private development.

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Australian Alpine Ascent, March 2018

Now that we’re well and truly into trail running season I expect that lots of people who love running events are in training. It’s always good to have something to work towards. If you’ve been a bit slow off the mark, the Australian Alpine Ascent will be held in the Snowy Mountains on March 10.

Plenty of time to get in shape!

Full details below.

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Riding for the Great Forest National Park – day ride to Starlings Gap

Aidan Kempster has been raising the profile of the proposal to create a Great Forest National Park through riding the trails and roads of the Central Highlands. He has been sharing his trips and insights on his website Riding for the Great Forest. He has also started to lead day rides, which are open to all people who are keen to do some MTB riding in these precious and threatened forests.

The next ride is on this Saturday (November 11) near Starlings Gap, which is near Warburton.

Continue reading “Riding for the Great Forest National Park – day ride to Starlings Gap”

The Alpine Challenge – 6 major climbs of Victoria’s highest peaks

The Alpine Challenge is without doubt the toughest, most challenging, most spectacular and rewarding mountain trail run in Australia – if not the southern hemisphere over four separate routes of varying lengths (36 km,  60km, 100 km and 160km). The 100 mile (160 km) course takes in 6 major climbs with 7,600 m of ascent and descent including Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham, Mt McKay, Spion Kopje, Mt Nelse and Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong, plus five river crossings. The 100 km involves over 4,000 m of ascent and descent and the 60 km course over 2,000 m of ascent and descent, whilst for those undertaking the 36 km run you will have over 1,300 m of ascent.

Key Information

Date: Saturday 25 November–Monday 27 November 2017

Location: Alpine National Park, Victoria, Australia

Start/Finish: Slalom Plaza, Falls Creek

You can find further information and register here.

 

Canadian supreme court gives the green light to ski resort on sacred indigenous land

In devastating news for anyone concerned about the rights of indigenous people and protection of major wild areas, the Jumbo Glacier Resort has been given the green light by the Canadian supreme court.

The Jumbo Valley, located deep in the wilds of British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains, has long been revered for its spiritual significance and beauty. To the Ktunaxa Nation, it is known as Qat’muk, home of the grizzly bear spirit.

For decades, First Nations, conservationists, backcountry skiers and snowboarders have fought a proposed large-scale ski resort deep in the Jumbo valley. After 24 years of opposition, the campaign against the resort has been dealt a major blow with this court ruling.

Continue reading “Canadian supreme court gives the green light to ski resort on sacred indigenous land”

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