Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Its Here. The ‘Blizzard of Oz 2.0’

After that depressing rain, the snow is back – with a vengeance. Weather is wild in most mountain areas right now. But enjoy it once the winds drop.

Hotham is reporting ’25 cm of cold dry snow in the last 24hrs’.

Mt Buller is reporting ’15cm fresh on top of 10cm yesterday and still falling’ (It’s going to be ‘EPIC’ says the over hyped snow guy on their daily video update).

Thredbo is calling the storm the ‘Blizzard of Oz 2.0′, with ’40cm of fresh in the last 24 hours’, and Perisher is reporting ’50 cm’ in the same time period.

Please check road conditions before heading to resorts and consider taking a chain saw if you’re accessing the backcountry via unpatrolled roads.

Apart from all the resort websites, there is a list of snow reporting and forecast sites available here.

The image at the top is the MountainWatch forecast from this morning.

Splitfest 2017 is on in 10 days

Just a reminder that the NSW Splitfest DownUnder will be held on weekend of the 25 – 27th of August in the NSW main range.
Register here.
There is the usual friday night entertainment at the Jindabyne Bowling Club in the downstairs room, starting @ 6pm 12 Bay St, Jindabyne NSW, camping up at Island Bend in the national park, and a tour out of Guthega on the saturday.

For full details please check here.


Australian snow pack in decline since 1957

Anyone who is paying attention to the state of our winters knows that they are getting more erratic. Often they start later (it’s a rare thing to ski on natural snow on opening weekend) and subject to more rain events, with big impacts on snow pack. While our climatic patterns go through natural wetter and drier cycles, climate science tells us that these patters will become more extreme, with less overall snow and shorter seasons.

Anecdotes and personal experience are one thing. But when did the snow pack actually start to decline?

While all resorts track snowfall, the benchmark of snowfall in Australia over time comes from Spencers Creek, at a site at 1,800 metres above sea level, in the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains. The following article comes from ABC Rural and gives a sense of the decades worth of data that is available from this site, and the process of getting the data. The measuring site was originally established to give the Snowy Hydro managers a sense of what water was trapped in the snow pack and hence how much water would be released in the spring. As skiers and riders, what it gives us is a long term summary of the trends in snowpack over the past six decades.

The take home message is that, overall, snowpack has been declining for decades and unabated climate change will make that worse. While the article does not drill into this issue in detail, previous analysis of this data by Terry Giesecke suggests that:

“There has been a downwards trend (in snow pack) from 1957 to 1989. It then goes up dramatically for about four years, before resuming a downwards path”. This research suggests that the increase in snow depth between 1990 and 1994 could have been due to global cooling which occurred as a result of major volcanic activity in the Philippines in 1991. Using data collected up until 2016, it also notes:

“There is evidence of further decline in the first 16 years of the 21st century.”

The full article is below.

Continue reading “Australian snow pack in decline since 1957”

World Telemark Day 2017 – Snowy Mountains event

World telemark day is celebrated in both the northern and southern hemispheres

There is an event planned for Mount Hotham on September 2.

We now have a date for the NSW World Telemark Day: Saturday 9 September.

It will be held at Perisher. Meet at the Ski Tube Building at 8 am.

This will be fun day on the slopes at Perisher, getting in some tele turns as a belated celebration of World Telemark Day Southern Hemisphere.

This is a free event – all welcome. For further information please contact Andrew:

For full details on world tele day, please check here.


Help stop the cable car on Mt Wellington/ kunanyi

Mountain Journal has often reported on the long campaign against the proposal to build a cable car up the face of Mt Wellington/ kunanyi, in Hobart.

If you’re a Tasmanian, please sign this petition which opposes the recently tabled Mount Wellington Cable Car Facilitation Bill 2017, which intends to facilitate the acquisition of land for the cable car. It calls for the Bill to be rejected.

You can sign the petition here.

You can find extra info on Mountain Journal or through local resident’s group Respect the Mountain.

Windy Corner becomes Falls Creek Cross Country

Many people will know the Windy Corner day shelter/ café/ ski hire shop above the top car park at Falls Creek. It is the ‘skiing arm’ of the YMCA operated Howmans Gap Alpine Centre, located just down the road, literally at the gateway of the resort. Both Howmans Gap and Windy Corner have undergone some major changes this season as part of an ambitious campaign to be more accessible to people, families and groups and to lift the profile of cross country skiing/ alpine recreation to people of all ages and ability levels. They are seeking to encourage a greater diversity of people to visit the resort, and also act as the base for Disabled Wintersport Australia. As part of this process the Windy Corner facility has been renamed as Falls Creek Cross Country.

This seems like a great initiative to broaden the appeal and accessibility of resorts. It seems to be working, with ski rental having increased by 300% this season. The following comes from Sandra Bucovaz.

Continue reading “Windy Corner becomes Falls Creek Cross Country”

Avalanche risk in the Australian Alps

Following the amazing snow storm that came through over the weekend, we are facing some serious avalanche risk in higher and steeper terrain at present, especially in Victoria. Please be very careful in the backcountry.

Please check below for details and updates on conditions.

Continue reading “Avalanche risk in the Australian Alps”

Is this the big one?

Skiers and snowboarders are the eternal optimists. No matter how bad the snow, how miserable the rain, how strong the winds, there is always hope that it will get better when the next storm arrives. We’re aided in sustaining our hopeful addiction by snow forecasting. But like any relationship based on co-addiction, this has its ups and downs.

Continue reading “Is this the big one?”

Vail aims to become a ‘sustainable tourism destination’

Mountain Journal recently reported that the famous Colorado resort of Vail had announced its intention to ‘commit to zero net emissions (partly through use of renewable energy to run its operations), zero waste to landfill and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat by the year 2030’.

Vail is a town built around ski field development. While only about 5,500 people live there (supported by a large ‘down valley’ community in towns like Avon and Edwards who must commute to work) it hosts as many as 2.8 million visitors a year.

Aspen, located to the south west, is probably better known for its sustainability efforts, but Vail’s commitment is ambitious. The recent announcement on energy and waste came from Vail Resorts Inc, the company that runs the resort operations. There is also a commitment from the Town of Vail, based in the valley below the resort, to become North Americas first sustainable tourist destination certified through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Continue reading “Vail aims to become a ‘sustainable tourism destination’”

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