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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Author

Cam Walker

I work with Friends of the Earth, and live in Castlemaine in Central Victoria, Australia. Activist, dad to Tali & Mia, mountain enthusiast, climber & would be telemark skier.

Has Alpine Shire underestimated the economic and environmental costs of the Dinner Plain ‘Green’?

As reported several times by Mountain Journal, the Alpine Shire in north east Victoria is currently investigating whether to develop a ‘Village Green’ (oval/ polo field/ elite athlete training ground) in the Dinner Plain village. The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 million and substantial investigations have been carried out to assess the likely environmental, social and economic implications of the proposal. Council is now deciding whether to proceed with developing the Green, which will require the destruction of almost 2 hectares of snow gum woodland (an assessment of the environmental impacts of this project is available here).

The information provided to the public by Council about the environmental impacts of the proposal and costs of managing the Green over time have been assessed by an independent ecological consultant. This was done in a voluntary capacity and provided to Council to aid in their decision making. An edited version is provided below.

Continue reading “Has Alpine Shire underestimated the economic and environmental costs of the Dinner Plain ‘Green’?”

Skiing The Slot at Mt Field

Recent heavy snowfalls briefly created perfect conditions in the Tasmanian mountains for touring and some serious descents. One classic line with potential is a steep gully in Mt Field National Park called The Slot.

It was briefly in condition, and Ben Armstrong was out there to ski it.

These photos come from Ben via the Australian Backcountry facebook group.

Continue reading “Skiing The Slot at Mt Field”

Have you seen avalanches in the mountains this winter?

This map, of the north eastern mountains of Victoria, shows all the known significant slides that have occurred so far in 2017, with the categories of each. Mountain Sports Collective would love to know if there are any others that you may have come across in your travels this winter?

As a guide: C2 would bury a car, C3 would bury a bus. It’s probably the C1 (just big enough to bury a person, the small slides we are missing).

If you’ve got photos please post them through a report on the MSC website, and please location tag them with a date You can also just add a description on the Snowsense Instagram account.

MSC would also like to know about slides outside this area – elsewhere in Victoria or in NSW.

This information will be used to review the reporting standards that MSC is using. Thanks for your help.

APSI Spring Sessions 2017 at Perisher

The 16th & 17th of September will see the Australian Professional Snowsport Instructors (APSI) Spring Sessions happen at Perisher.

It will be two days of awesome clinics planned with some of Australia’s top trainers.

For further info & to book in, call the APSI on (02) 6456 1255 or visit their website here

On Sunday, the team from Wilderness Sports will have a demo tent full of new gear for you to try out, including Alpine Touring, 75mm telemark and NTN.

They will also have the new EVA snowshoes by Crescent Moon and available to try out.

 

Cable car up kunanyi/ Mt Wellington one step closer

The Tasmanian government continues to help facilitate the development of a cable car up the side of kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, above Hobart.

There will be significant environmental impacts of this project and visual scarring of the mountain. Close to 1,500 people recently signed a petition against the proposal. A large majority of the 850 submissions made to a recent government process also opposed the plan. Yet the government continues to provide support for this damaging project: it has now tabled the legislation which will allow for the acquisition of public land for the cable car. The Govt has added the word ‘kunanyi’ into the title and little else has changed despite all the feedback it received on the draft legislation.

In an interesting development, the Hobart City Council says that a key reason given by the State Government for its legislation paving the way for a cable car on kunanyi/ Mt Wellington has ‘no weight’.

Tasmanian people: please make sure that your voice is heard by contacting the Legislative Council members to urge them to vote against the Bill. They will have the final say.

For further information check the page for Respect the Mountain.

Become a founding member of the Mountain Sports Collective

If you ski or ride in the backcountry, you’re probably already using the resources provided by Mountain Sports Collective (MSC). MSC was created by the amalgamation of the nation’s foremost alpine safety platforms Snowsafety.com.au and Snowsense.org. These sites offer an Alpine Travel Advisory, and issues information regarding alpine travel safety across all aspects of the prevailing conditions above snowline from 1 June – 31st October each year. Snowsafety and Snowsense have joined forces to create MSC not only with the goal of delivering a more streamlined and concise picture of the conditions in the mountains, in one single easy view, but we are now also a legal entity, established as a not-for-profit association.

MSC aims to be the voice for the human powered backcountry community in Australia. While there are similar organisations overseas (for instance the Winter Wildlands Alliance in the USA) there is no single voice for all forms of human powered winter backcountry adventurers here in Australia. There are a range of walking clubs, Nordic ski climbs, climbing organisations and so on. We feel that, with an ever growing number of people heading into the winter backcountry, the time is right for a group that can help co-ordinate and focus the voice of this diverse community.

Continue reading “Become a founding member of the Mountain Sports Collective”

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’.

Continue reading “Auden Schendler on climate change – skiers can make a difference”

Winter road trip bliss

What’s winter without a decent road trip? As I wrote earlier this year, I reckon the ultimate Australian winter snow road trip is the journey between the Snowy Mountains and the Victorian Alps via the Alpine Way.

There are lots of ways to cross the Alps or link up different mountains. But the Alpine Way has a special appeal I think, as it brings you under the western face of the Snowy Mountains, surely the most impressive alpine views on mainland Australia.

Continue reading “Winter road trip bliss”

More frequent fires threaten snow gums

Fire has had a significant role in shaping mountain ecosystems in Australia for millions of years. But climate change is making our fire seasons more extreme and longer in duration.

What this means is that we are seeing more and more areas being burnt more frequently. In the case of the Victorian mountains, I have seen some areas of alpine ash and snow gums that have been burnt three times in a decade. Each year it feels like the world is getting poorer as these forests are impacted time and again, potentially beyond their ability to recover.

It’s the same story everywhere. Who can forget the devastating fires in Tasmania over the summer of 2016?

As we hear warnings that this summers fire season may be a bad one, massive fires are raging across much of western North America, causing many people to flee from their homes and communities. Vast areas of land are being burnt. For instance one fire in California swept through an area called Nelder Grove, which is home to 2,700-year-old giant sequoia trees. Human assets like historical buildings are also being threatened or destroyed.

There are fires across much of the rest of the northern hemisphere too. Check the incredible maps in this article entitled ‘This is how much of the world is currently on fire’.

Recent research here in Australia demonstrates that fire impacts are growing on snow gum forests and will continue to do so in future. Mountain Journal has reported on a number of these reports in the past. A new report from researchers at Melbourne University has a shocking message: ‘over 90% of the Victorian distribution of snow gums has been burned at least once since 2003. What is of greater concern though, is that each of the large fires of the last 15 years has overlapped to some extent, leaving thousands of hectares of snow gums burned by wildfire twice, and sometimes three times’.

Continue reading “More frequent fires threaten snow gums”

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