As some forecasters suggested early in the year, 2017 seems to be turning into a less than average and slightly erratic season. The ephemeral joy of winter snow seems even more fleeting than usual this year, with the lesson that you should get out and enjoy it wherever and however you can when it arrives.
The most recent fronts appear to have brought the most snow to the southern mountains of Tasmania, which also got me thinking about the ephemeral wonder of Tassie’s peaks after heavy snow.
Because of their lower elevation and general proximity to the coast, winter snow fall can be very erratic and snow pack very fleeting. Yet when it’s in condition, there is no doubt that Tasmania’s rocky peaks and wild terrain offers the most ‘alpine’ experience of any winter landscape in the country. The secret to a good trip is to have a job or life circumstances that allows you to drop everything and get to the hills straight after a bit dump of snow. If you can manage that, there is some fantastic terrain. Some of my favorites include:
- Around Lake Mackenzie on the central plateau (one of the few places where you can drive quite high rather than having to climb out of a valley)
- Mt Rufus, at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain/ Lake St Clair national park
- Mt Field West and the Rodway Range
- Ben Lomond plateau (the highest section of alpine country in the state).
Of course, there are almost endless options after big falls, limited largely by how much time you have and the level of suffering you’re prepared to accept to get into the mountains. Some places are too rocky and steep for riding, others lend themselves to a bit of touring and downhill runs. There are some pretty spectacular couloirs on many mountains that would be quite incredible in the right season.
There is quite a bit of info about backcountry adventures in Tasmania on the ski wiki.
And as I’ve mentioned a few times, the Ducane Traverse remains my favourite alpine winter adventure in Tasmania. It’s one of my Big 3 backcountry trips in Australia and whether you have glorious sun or blizzard conditions, it will be one of those trips you never forget: difficult travel through rocky terrain in sublime alpine surroundings.