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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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climate change

Low carbon backcountry is the New Black

If you love winter, then chances are you love a good ski or snowboarding film. This year’s batch of new films have been released over the last couple of months (pre Northern winter). One thing that’s really obvious in the ski/ riding genre is the ever growing number of films that are focused on human powered adventure. It’s great to see this tradition continue this year with a number of films focused on low carbon adventures.

Here’s an introduction to a few of them:

Continue reading “Low carbon backcountry is the New Black”

A new year, time for new campaign issues?

We still have a long hot dry summer ahead of us. And fires that threaten the mountains that we love so much. But we are also moving towards New Years Eve, when people often make their plans for the coming year.

For me a big part of my planning for the year is to lock in my backcountry trips (here’s my favourite 3 backcountry adventures). Obviously it’s good to have a long think about life, the universe and everything. And then there is activism. 

Sadly, on the activist front there will be lots to do in 2020. Here’s a few ideas on where you may want to put your shoulder to the wheel.

Continue reading “A new year, time for new campaign issues?”

A winter traverse of the Alps – you can be involved

Climb8 will be a long distance snowshoe expedition which is being planned for the winter of 2020.

It aims to travel from Namadgi in the ACT to Walhalla in Victoria via the Australian Alps Walking Track. It will cross 36 summits, visit 8 ski resorts and carry out climate change research along the way. It will start on June 6.

Organiser Terra Roam has announced that there are now opportunities to be involved in the expedition.

Continue reading “A winter traverse of the Alps – you can be involved”

Finding the Good News in the grim reality

We’re facing heatwaves, drought and mega fires. Fire season started early right along the eastern seaboard and while the mountains have largely been spared so far, its going to be a long summer.

The updated Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook which has just been released shows that extended area of Gippsland and the mountains of North East Victoria are forecast to experience above-normal bushfire potential over the summer.

Global leaders (including our own federal government) have comprehensively failed to agree on how to tackle climate change during the recent UN negotiations in Spain. Horse numbers are sky rocketing in the Snowy Mountains because the NSW government is in thrall to political forces who refuse to accept the ecological costs of having large feral horse populations in alpine and sub alpine environments.

The list could easily go on. When you look at the state of the world, it’s hard not to get depressed. So here is some outdoors related ‘end of year’ good news for you.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing, and fire free, summer.

Continue reading “Finding the Good News in the grim reality”

Climate change impacts on VIC mountains – less snow, more fires

The Victorian government has recently released the ‘Climate Science Report 2019’, which brings together the latest climate change science knowledge gained from the government’s ongoing investigations into climate science. The report provides further useful insights into both how our climate is changing and what it means for Victoria’s future.

In many ways, there is nothing new in the report. It notes that Victoria’s climate has ‘changed in recent decades, becoming warmer and drier’. These changes are expected to continue in the future.

In general terms, the state’s environment is becoming hotter and drier, with

  • an overall increase in the frequency of unusually hot days
  • a decline in cool season rainfall over the last 30 years
  • greater number of very high fire danger days in spring

There are some details relevant to mountain environments, which we will outline briefly below (as direct quotes).

Continue reading “Climate change impacts on VIC mountains – less snow, more fires”

#ClimateImpactVic map launched

Act on Climate Victoria, the climate change campaign at Friends of the Earth Victoria, has launched an interactive map which shows details of climate change impacts on local communities, businesses and landscapes across the state.

It notes that snow cover has declined across the Alps since the 1950s. You can submit your observations of climate change impacts for inclusion in the map.

Continue reading “#ClimateImpactVic map launched”

‘Climate Cycle to Canberra’ to cross the Alps twice

The Climate Cycle to Canberra is an unsupported, adventurous, ‘non-charity’ bike ride from Melbourne to Canberra in aid of emergency climate action in Australia.

Unlike a standard charity ride, riders ask supporters for pledges of ‘action’ rather than money. These actions are aimed at moving us towards our political goals.

The riders say: ‘we want to create the conditions in which an effective, society-wide response to the climate crisis is possible. The first step is to get our politicians to declare a climate emergency’.

The main ride will be departing from Federation Square in Melbourne at 9am on Saturday the 23rd of November.

Continue reading “‘Climate Cycle to Canberra’ to cross the Alps twice”

A ski resort that runs on 100% wind power

Lots of people and businesses in the snow industry are doing great things to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advocate for serious political action to respond to the existential threat posed by climate change.

There are lots of inspiring initiatives, like Thredbo resort in NSW who have announced that it will ensure that ‘all its major resort operations are now powered by renewable energy’ or Mt Abram, in the North East of the USA, who installed 3,190 solar panels to become completely reliant on renewable power to meet its energy needs (lots more stories here).

We haven’t yet covered this story: Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort is the largest resort in the southern New England region of the USA. It is also the only mountain resort in North America to generate its own energy using wind power.

Continue reading “A ski resort that runs on 100% wind power”

An ‘unprecedented’ number of plume dominated fires.

We know that climate change is driving hotter and drier summers, and making fire seasons worse, and this is already impacting on mountain environments. Last summer there were significant fires across eastern Victoria and the Victorian Mountains, as well as in Tasmania. While the largest one burned in the Bunyip state park about 65km east of Melbourne, there were also fires which closed the Southern Alps and Foothills areas of the Alpine National Park, especially around Dargo and Licola.

One of the features of these fires was the formation of pyrocumulus clouds (as shown in the image above, taken from the north of the fire burning out of the Dargo River and onto the Dargo High Plains, with Mt Blowhard in the foreground). The Licola fire burnt with such ferocity it was visible on the Bureau of Meteorology’s radar. A huge thundercloud formed from the fire, which then produced more than 1,200 lightning strikes, some of which sparked new fires. It created unpredictable weather conditions that hampered fire fighting efforts.

Continue reading “An ‘unprecedented’ number of plume dominated fires.”

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