The Mountain Safety Collective (MSC) is a voice for the backcountry community. It organises training and other events, produces wonderful maps, merchandise, and the backcountry conditions report through winter.

It is run by a group of diehard backcountry enthusiasts. Lately it has been introducing its board. This is taken from the most recent MSC newsletter and is an introduction to the wonderful Rolf Schonfeld, who lives in Smoko in north eastern Victoria, at the base of Mt Feathertop.

FROM THE START…

I keep flicking between these first 2 images and I guess I skied before I swam.

Ironically I learned skiing along the B500, a road through the Black Forest in the south west of Germany.

No ski lifts for my first 6 years on the planks. Herringbone up and through sticks in the snow, as gates, back down.

At 13 we started skiing over the xmas holidays in the Alps.

Once I turned 18 and it was dumping in the Hills during school, we were off. The nearest ski lift only 45 min away along the B500 and with flood light open till 22:00.

Through the Alpine Club I was introduced to ski touring. We would head up to hosted Huts or Winter Rooms in the Swiss Alps (3 hrs ) or Austrian Alps (4-5hrs) whenever we could.

We had Pieps back then with earbuds and would always ski with a fluoro 5 m cord attached to us if things looked super suss.

So how come Smoko , on the B500 in Australia? Well, I love the wildlife here, the sounds, the trees in the snow with leaves on them.

And in the early 90’s I had Feathertop all to myself. 

I would ride my trusty Trumpy up from Melbourne, if it was dumping… in the pouring rain, and would head up for 2-3 nights.

In ‘94 I moved to Harrietville and started working for the Race Dept. at Hotham. I remember the big slide in H-Gully that broke the leg of Andrew Edwards, a colleague in the Race Dept. Snowgums the size of my thigh, snapped right off.

So fast forward to 2014 and the tragedy at Mt. Bogong. It put avalanches and the dangers of winter on the front page and subsequently led to the forming of the Mountain Sports Collective. We have kicked some serious goals since then! Over 250 members and growing. Recognized and supported by the governing bodies. A fully qualified and approved backcountry conditions platform and the people to back it up. The first Avy Beacon and Probe search training park (ATC) in the southern hemisphere.

And all thanks to an awesome dedicated team and all our members, thanks Mountain Safety Collective.

You can find out more about MSC via the website.