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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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backcountry

In praise of the winter road trip

The snow roadtrip. Most snow and mountain obsessed Australians end up traveling overseas to explore and ride bigger mountains and deeper snow. And while the destination might be the mountains, the roadtrip to get there is sometimes equally essential to the experience.

Japan by van, the Powder Highway in BC, doing the circuit of the resorts from Park City to Cedar City in Utah are all standout trips. Last January I spent a month doing backcountry trips in central Colorado. The hut system is fantastic, the skiing was mind blowing, and the road trip, a big loop from Vail to Salida, to Crested Butte and Ouray and then north to Grand Junction and Aspen, was a huge part of the fun.

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SplitFest 2017

As far as I’m concerned, SplitFest – the Splitboarding festival – is the highlight of the winter backcountry calendar.

You get a great party in Jindabyne on the Friday night, a camp out up in the mountains at Island Bend with a big mob of fantastic people, and an outing with Adam West, who will share his knowledge of the backcountry, reading terrain and all things splitboarding.

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Stay safe out there.

We have snow! Time to get out in the mountains.

A big part of having a successful trip (and not having to rely on the emergency Spam and VB in the hut) is to research the weather and conditions.

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The Big 3: best winter backcountry trips in Australia

Finally! Winter is here. A number of resorts have opened early – Baw Baw, Buller, and Perisher …

By now you’ve probably locked in lots of trips (here’s some ideas of great BC related events if you haven’t already got a full schedule, and some ideas on getting backcountry skills if you need them). A bit of resort is fun. Weekend trips are great. But winter is not winter without at least one big outing. Here’s my shortlist of the best winter backcountry touring trips in the country.

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BackcountryHuts.net

Many backcountry huts in the Australian Alps are either intended only for emergency use or are fairly uninviting places to stay (in contrast with many of the ones in high visitation areas of the Tasmanian high country). But the best ones can be fantastic spots for a winter camp when the conditions outside aren’t great.

The best resource I know for locating huts in the mountains is Backcountry Huts. You can search by area or state and find a huge number of buildings, from the ruinous to the fabulous.

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The backcountry – know before you go

The absolute majority of skiers and boarders enjoy their sport in resorts. Yet the continued interest in ‘side country’ and backcountry skiing and riding continues. While here in Australia, the backcountry (BC) does seem busier, it’s hard to tell if more people who mostly ski or ride in  resorts are spending some time in the side country, or whether it’s mostly people who are new to the sport who are venturing into the backcountry. It’s probably a mix of the two.

Either way, it does pose an issue. If people who are not familiar with ‘un managed’ winter environments are getting out of resorts under their own power, are they likely to get themselves into trouble in the backcountry? How can we help people to be ready for the conditions and terrain they might find?

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SplitFest 2017

The NSW Splitfest DownUnder will be held on weekend of the 25-27th of August in the NSW main range.

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Backcountry film festival – Sydney

The NSW Nordic Ski Club is screening the Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival.  12 stunning short films from the backcountry: skiing, snowboarding and mountain cultures from around the world.  You can book tickets here. Tickets $15.  (free for NSC members).

26 July 2017.  7:30 pm

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The Hunt for White October

For the past six years, Mountain Journal has co-hosted the Australian showing of the Backcountry Film Festival (BCFF). The BCFF is a celebration of human powered outdoors adventure, with a strong focus on snow sports – skiing, splitboarding and snow shoeing. This season features 11 films over one evening (see here for dates and full details for the shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra).

In Melbourne, we have – in addition to the BCFF – a short film made at the end of the 2016 season. It follows Charlotte and her dad Mike as they make a late season foray to Mt Loch, in the Victorian High Country. The festival will screen on tuesday May 30th at Melbourne University.

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