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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Main Range Snowy Mountains

Something craggy and life priorities

Antony von Chrismar describes a mission to the Main Range with long time friend Lach to ride big lines on the western face. “The stoke was high … a rare treat it was to slay such perfect stable powder on a complex Aussie mountain face.”

Continue reading “Something craggy and life priorities”

Lets Split trip to Dead Horse Gap

Lets Split is an interesting development in the Australian backcountry scene. They offer trips in NSW and Victoria for people to experience split boarding. They describe their trips as being different to guided tours: ‘rather they are an opportunity for like minded folk to come and experience Splitboarding, with people who are experienced on that terrain’.

Here is a report from their final trip for the 2018 season.

Continue reading “Lets Split trip to Dead Horse Gap”

LETS SPLIT – trip to Guthega

Lets Split is a recent development in the Australian backcountry scene. They have just started to offer trips in NSW and Victoria for people to experience split boarding. They describe their trips as being different to guided tours: ‘rather they are an opportunity for like minded folk to come and experience Splitboarding, with people who are experienced on that terrain’.

The following report on their recent trip in the Snowy Mountains comes from Amine Yasmine.

Continue reading “LETS SPLIT – trip to Guthega”

Avalanche Warning upgraded to ‘High Danger’

UPDATE. WED August 8, 2018

MSC have issued a ‘High Danger’ warning.

They say:

“The current conditions on the range are about as bad as we have seen in the four year span of running the program. Equal to the various ‘Blizzards of OZ’ in 17 and the various other events of triggered slides swept riders and buried them, and as of the time of writing there have been no incidents. We aren’t out of the woods yet, and that’s the real cut and thrust of this message. This event will linger for the next 48hrs+ so hold the charge, and urge the rest of your immediate pow chasing mates to heed the warning until the snow has settled.”

Additionally, Mt Stirling ski patrol has closed Stanley Bowl:

‘Traditionally Stanley Bowl is considered safe from avalanches. But the conditions we have observed which include a cornice with a large fracture through it are severe enough for us to feel the need to close it’.

Bill Barker from Mt Hotham patrol says:

There is ‘considerable avalanche danger in the back-country again today. There was several reports of skier triggered avalanches yesterday, and the weak layer that produced these still exists today but it is now buried deeper in the snowpack which will result in larger avalanches if it releases today.

Continue reading “Avalanche Warning upgraded to ‘High Danger’”

Splitfest 2018

The NSW ‘Splitfest DownUnder’ will be held on the weekend of the 24-26th of August in the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains.

It’s always a great event – meet some great crew, camp out at Island Bend up in the Park, and join a tour on the Saturday that leaves from the Guthega resort. Splitfest is organised by Adam West. You can Register here.

The weekend kicks off on Friday night at the Jindabyne Bowling Club in the downstairs room starting @ 6pm.

Full details on what’s going on and what to bring can be found here.

Introducing Alpine Access Australia

There have been some changes in the alpine guiding and avalanche training scene in Australia this winter. Well known operation Main Range Backcountry (MRBC) is no more, with two new businesses emerging: one is SnowSafety, run by Adam West. The other is Alpine Access Australia, operated by Dave and Pieta Herring.

Dave and Pieta continue to offer guided touring on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains plus two day avalanche awareness courses. Alpine Access Australia is an accredited Avalanche Canada AST Provider. Avalanche Canada sets the global standard for providing avalanche awareness programs. Participants acquire new skills and knowledge to help them keep safe in the backcountry. They teach the Avalanche Canada Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (AST1) Course, which aims to provide an entry-level decision-making framework for assessing avalanche risk. Courses include a day in the classroom and a day in the field. They cost $300.

For details on their tours, please check here.

For details on their AST courses please check here.

This winter they’re running courses both in NSW (Jindabyne area) and the Hotham area in Victoria.

For general information on AAA, please check here.

Guided walks to Kosciuszko

The walk up Mt Kosciuszko is not challenging. It is a pleasant hike from the Charlottes Pass Road or a harder climb up from Thredbo village. Many people take the easy way out and catch the Kosciusko Express chairlift from Thredbo, which means you miss most of the elevation gain of the walk. From there it’s a wonderful stroll through alpine landscape to the summit. The very last bit of the walk passes through boulderfields. The views are incredible.

Thredbo is offering guided hikes every Saturday from 4/11/17 until 28/4/18. If you haven’t been out on the Main Range before, this is a good way to get familiar with the terrain.

Continue reading “Guided walks to Kosciuszko”

Splitfest 2017 is on in 10 days

Just a reminder that the NSW Splitfest DownUnder will be held on weekend of the 25 – 27th of August in the NSW main range.
Register here.
There is the usual friday night entertainment at the Jindabyne Bowling Club in the downstairs room, starting @ 6pm 12 Bay St, Jindabyne NSW, camping up at Island Bend in the national park, and a tour out of Guthega on the saturday.

For full details please check here.

 

Australian snow pack in decline since 1957

Anyone who is paying attention to the state of our winters knows that they are getting more erratic. Often they start later (it’s a rare thing to ski on natural snow on opening weekend) and subject to more rain events, with big impacts on snow pack. While our climatic patterns go through natural wetter and drier cycles, climate science tells us that these patters will become more extreme, with less overall snow and shorter seasons.

Anecdotes and personal experience are one thing. But when did the snow pack actually start to decline?

While all resorts track snowfall, the benchmark of snowfall in Australia over time comes from Spencers Creek, at a site at 1,800 metres above sea level, in the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains. The following article comes from ABC Rural and gives a sense of the decades worth of data that is available from this site, and the process of getting the data. The measuring site was originally established to give the Snowy Hydro managers a sense of what water was trapped in the snow pack and hence how much water would be released in the spring. As skiers and riders, what it gives us is a long term summary of the trends in snowpack over the past six decades.

The take home message is that, overall, snowpack has been declining for decades and unabated climate change will make that worse. While the article does not drill into this issue in detail, previous analysis of this data by Terry Giesecke suggests that:

“There has been a downwards trend (in snow pack) from 1957 to 1989. It then goes up dramatically for about four years, before resuming a downwards path”. This research suggests that the increase in snow depth between 1990 and 1994 could have been due to global cooling which occurred as a result of major volcanic activity in the Philippines in 1991. Using data collected up until 2016, it also notes:

“There is evidence of further decline in the first 16 years of the 21st century.”

The full article is below.

Continue reading “Australian snow pack in decline since 1957”

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