Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



The North Face presents: Western Faces

Western Faces is a new film featuring a fantastic line-up about a trip to ski and explore the western faces of the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains.

“Australian mountaineer Tim Macartney-snape, freeskier Anna Segal and Freeride World Tour rookie Michaela Davis-Meehan, are set to explore some of the steepest faces in their backyard. With New Zealand freeskiers Fraser McDougall and Hank Bilous along for the ride, they’re slogging deep into the backcountry to find freeride terrain that will have their Kiwi-counterparts do a double-take”.

The digital launch will happen on Thursday July 16.

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MSC kicks off the 2020 Backcountry Conditions Reports

Mountain Sports Collective is a membership based not-for-profit user group organisation for human powered alpine sports in Australia.

In winter it produces a regular ‘Backcountry Conditions Report’ covering three areas: North East VIC, the Central Alpine Ranges in VIC, and the Main Range in the Snowy Mountains. The reports cover alpine snow and weather conditions and travel and terrain advice. It is generally updated as conditions change significantly.

This winter MSC has set up a ‘community observation’ page that allows backcountry users to contribute information about conditions. You can add your observations here.

Now that proper winter conditions have finally kicked in, the Reports will be updated on a regular basis.

Please check the reports before heading into the backcountry.


You can support the efforts of MSC by becoming a member.




Managing human waste on the Main Range

With COVID-19 restrictions reducing the number of people able to ski and ride in resort, this will certainly be the ‘winter of the backcountry’.

This brings a range of management issues, as inexperienced and, potentially, under equipped, people head out into what can be serious terrain and sometimes crazy weather.

There is also another dimension to this: what to do with the waste that will be brought into the backcountry, including human waste (aka Poo).

The following information comes from the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service:

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Heading to the Backcountry this Season? Stay safe with a AST1 Course

If you’re a Splitboarder and want to be part of an EXTENDED Alpine Safety Training (AST1) course in Victoria – a collaboration between Alpine Access Australia and the Let’s Split crew – read on!

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Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?

With ski resorts announcing their plans for the season (and resorts having considerable control over access to many backcountry skiing and riding access points) we now have a sense of what winter will look like.

The key message is that if you’re planning to access backcountry via a resort you need to organise entry before you go. But there are many options outside resort areas.

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VIC Backcountry Festival 2020

Lots of people are asking whether the Backcountry Festival will happen this year. The short answer is YES, providing Mt Hotham is open and backcountry access is allowed.

With the COVID-19 pandemic requiring society wide shut down of non essential activity, it is not yet certain whether the 2020 ski season will happen. Obviously, like all other snow lovers, we are anxiously waiting for the government announcement on whether ski season will proceed, and if it does, in what form.

Because the festival is not scheduled until the end of winter (September 4 – 6), we are hopeful that the festival will be able to proceed.

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The Central Plateau from the air

These images were taken from a lovely 46 minute video of ‘a flight over the Tasmanian Highlands on a mostly sunny autumn afternoon’ from Gary J McArthur (whose account is called Wandering Foxbat). This film is available here. He posts many great videos of flying over Tasmania.

He flies over Mt Roland, down along the western edge of the Central Plateau to the Ducane Range, then north to Cradle Mountain.

I couldn’t resist taking a few images from the video of some of my favourite peaks.

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Paradise at 12,000 feet

It was the end of day four on our 160 kilometre ski tour from the resort town of Aspen to Vail, in central Colorado. We’d had a brutal day, with an early start at 11,300 feet, a long descent off the edge of the Continental Divide, endless touring through deep fresh snow, and a final punishing two hour climb to Jackal hut. But tomorrow was the big day.

Perched on the edge of a meadow with jaw dropping views to Mt Elbert, the highest of Colorado’s 14K peaks, Jackal is a solid log cabin with a big front deck that is owned by the 10th Mountain Division Huts Association. On day five we left the hut just after dawn, shuffling through a dark spruce forest onto a long ridge that climbed towards the 12,000 foot mark. The plan was to take a high route over the mountains to our next destination – Shrine Mountain – rather than a lower and more complex trail below the treeline. I’d been struggling with the downhill sections, and was dreading the descent off the other side.

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Backcountry festival 2020: planning & film night

As you will probably know, we have turned the 2020 Victorian backcountry festival into a three day event, from Friday – Sunday Sept 4, 5 and 6. Things will kick off on Friday morning so hopefully you can make a long weekend out of it. After receiving strong positive feedback, we will be running another guided trip straight after the festival, probably to Mt Bogong.

Quite a lot of people have expressed interest in getting involved in planning the 2020 festival.

So, if you’re in Melbourne, please come along to this BC Festival get together.

Wednesday March 4.

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