Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Getting into the backcountry

Victorian snow lovers had a tough winter in 2020. We’re all frothing to get out once the snow starts to fall, and we know it will be busy in the mountains this year, with new and experienced skiers and riders keen to get out and away from the resorts.

If you’re starting out on backcountry skiing, riding or snow shoeing, please feel free to join us at this free event at Bogong outdoor store in Little Bourke st, Melbourne on May 25.

Kelly Van Den Berg will introduce you to the skills, gear, and knowledge you need to get out into the backcountry and enjoy it safely. There will be a quick talk on Mountain Safety Collective (MSC) and the backcountry advisory bulletins that MSC produces through the winter. Followed by a Q & A.

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Sydney Backcountry Evening

Come together with other backcountry enthusiasts and get pumped for the upcoming season

Thursday 27th May 2021 at 6.00 pm Rose of Australia Hotel, Erskineville, Sydney

Speakers include:

  • Craig Sheppard, Avalanche Forecaster
  • Craig Brokensha, Meteorologist
  • Dave Herring, Avalanche Educator/ Backcountry tour guide

Food and drinks available for purchase at the bar.

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Mountain winter events 2021

Recent snowfalls across the Alps has got every snow lover excited about winter. Here is an initial list of snow related events happening across Victoria, NSW and the ACT this winter.

Please check here for a list of tour guides, all avalanche training providers, and gear hire options.

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Backcountry film festival screening in Harrietville

FITSKI is something of an institution in Harrietville. It happens before winter to help get the community fit for the snow.

The May session will include a screening of the Backcountry Film Festival.

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Get the skills you need for a Winter of Awesome

Last winter was pretty ‘ordinary’ in terms of the snow pack, and many people were unable to get into the mountains because of lock down. However, in the places where outdoor adventure was allowed, it was clear that there was a boom in visitation to side country (areas in or near ski resorts) and backcountry (more remote areas).

It has been the same this winter in North America, with some significant results. The New York Times reports:

‘In the throes of a pandemic that has made the indoors inherently dangerous, tens of thousands more Americans than usual have flocked outdoors, fleeing crowded cities for national parks and the public lands around them. But as these hordes of inexperienced adventurers explore the treacherous terrain of the backcountry, many inevitably call for help. It has strained the patchwork, volunteer-based search-and-rescue system in America’s West’.

This winter we have to expect lots of new and inexperienced people getting out of resort and into the higher peaks.

This will bring lots of impacts to our precious high country – especially around human waste (check here for our Let’s talk about poo guide to managing human waste in the backcountry). It also brings risks to inexperienced skiers and riders, and others in the mountains who may need to assist people and groups in difficulty, and put strain on police and volunteer search and rescue groups like Alpine Search and Rescue and the SES.

Here are some ideas on getting skills if you’re planning to head out into higher mountain environments this winter.

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Backcountry festival 2021 screening as a virtual event

The Backcountry Film Festival is back for 2021! This annual, pre winter event features a range of backcountry and winter related films.

Because of the difficulty of finding a low cost, large venue in a time of covid restrictions, this year we are running it as a virtual screening.

Please join us for the 2021 screenings.

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The Victorian backcountry festival is back in 2021!

After moving online in 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the Victorian Backcountry Festival will be back at Mt Hotham in 2021.

The Festival celebrates the growing movement of ‘all things backcountry’, focused on  human powered winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, telemarking, alpine touring, split boarding, photography and snow camping.  This will be the fourth year that the Festival has run, and the second time at Mt Hotham.

The Festival aims to not only provide an introduction to the ever-growing suite of backcountry activities, but to also make it more accessible to the general public, whilst educating them about mountain safety.

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Online Victorian Backcountry Festival 2020

The 3rd Victorian backcountry festival should be happening this weekend at Mt Hotham. Sadly, the coronavirus lockdown meant we had to cancel the event. However, we have organised a wonderful, free, online event tomorrow afternoon (Sunday September 6).

It will be a relaxed Sunday afternoon full of FREE backcountry speakers, seminars and workshops. It will be held over Zoom. There are three parallel streams, finishing with a screening of the great Australian backcountry film The Western Faces.

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Online Victorian Backcountry Festival

Because of the COVID-19 lock down, we have had to cancel the Victorian Backcountry Festival for 2020. However, in lieu of the festival that was scheduled for 4 – 6th September, we are planning a relaxed Sunday afternoon (Sept 6) full of backcountry speakers, seminars and workshops to be held over Zoom.

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Main Range backcountry conditions report 22/8

It’s wonderful to have all this fresh snow. With the national parks and resorts in Victoria closed, this is relevant for people from NSW and the ACT who are heading to the mountains this weekend.

If you are heading into the backcountry, be aware that there will be some tough weather and snow conditions.

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2020 VIC backcountry festival cancelled

Due to the new COVID-19 restrictions, we are sad to announce that the Victorian Backcountry Festival has been cancelled for 2020.

However do not despair, as the VBCF organisers have two exciting dates for you to put into your calendars right now.

  1. Victorian Backcountry Festival 2021 will be at Hotham again. It will be a three day festival, held on Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September 2021. Plan to come up on the Thursday night so you can take advantage of all the festival activities. And, if you can, aim to stay the Sunday night to hang out with your new snow buddies.
  2. In lieu of the 2020 festival that was scheduled for 4-6th September, the organisers are planning a weekend afternoon full of backcountry speakers, seminars and workshops to be held over Zoom. This will happen on Saturday September 5.

We are in the early stages of organising the program, and would love to hear from people about suggestions for potential speakers. If you have a great snow adventure story, a backcountry skill you can teach over Zoom, or want to suggest an author/ athlete/ mountaineer/ etc you want to hear speak, let us know:

Hope to see you all virtually at the online event next month – and in person next year up at Hotham.

Keep an eye on the website for updates.


Expedition Climb8 heading to VIC

Expedition Climb8 is an all-female 800km winter traverse of the Australian Alps, for climate action.

They started their journey on 5th July in Brindabella National Park in the ACT and intend to finish at Mount Baw Baw in Victoria, 8 or 9 weeks later. ‘We aim to be the first winter team to summit all 28 named and unnamed peaks and knolls above 2,000m in the Kosciuszko National Park and the highest 10 peaks in the Victorian Alpine National Park’. They have had  some very difficult conditions and injuries, but keeping on moving. They are almost 4 weeks into the trip.

They are currently getting close to the VIC/NSW border.

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