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Mountain Journal

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Main Range Snowy Mountains

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.

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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”

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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SplitFest 2017

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

Continue reading “SplitFest 2017”

Lets talk about poo

The Main Range area of the Snowy Mountains is a small and much loved area with some of Australia’s finest alpine terrain. It is popular with overnight walkers, skiers and riders and while the Parks service prohibits camping within the catchments of the glacial lakes on the range, there are still lots of great spots to stay.

But the problem of human waste is becoming one that backcountry users need to deal with. In places like the Main Range, the time has come to extend the concept of ‘if you carry it in, you can carry it out’. As Andrew Stanger says in this article, “just as dog owners must now collect their pooches poops, it is time for people to do the same when venturing into the great outdoors. People need to bag their poops, take them out and dispose of them appropriately”.

Here’s how you can do it:

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Ski mountaineering introduction courses

Main Range Backcountry is offering ski mountaineering courses this winter.

There will be four one day courses held this September, on the Main Range in the Snowy Mountains.

The course is designed to teach basic rope handling and movement on snow and ice with crampons and ice axes.

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Snow Safety Australia

Anyone who backcountry skis or rides outside Australia will know about the need to be careful of avalanche risk. Many regions around the world with lots of backcountry or mountaineering terrain will have online or phone service avalanche information which can be consulted before heading out into the hills.

With our moderate sized mountains and lower avalanche risk, many Australians are not aware that there are actually dangers to be found in our backcountry.

Now we have our first avalanche/ conditions info service: Snow Safety Australia.

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In praise of huts 2

Mountain Journal has previously covered the issue of huts in the high country. As we said then:

Huts in the mountains can be a vexed issue. Huts will tend to attract people and so tend to concentrate visitation within a larger area. As one example, most people who climb Mt Bogong tend to then turn towards Cleve Cole hut rather than head across to the Hooker Plateau. This tendency to influence visitation can be both good and bad.

They are part of the cultural history of the high country, and reflect major stages in the post colonisation era: cattle grazing, forestry, hydro, even fire watch towers and, more recently, huts built for recreational purposes. We also have a number of strange and random anomalies, ones that don’t really make sense: Craig’s hut near Mt Stirling as an example, which was built as a set for a film. There are, of course, those whose primary function is safety, such as Seaman’s hut near Mt Kosciusko, and huts that belong to clubs or even schools (Geelong Grammar on Mt Stirling)”.

With growing risk of wildfire, and many huts simply ageing and starting to fall apart, there is the chance that the overall number of huts will decline in coming years. Some are carefully looked after (the Kosciusko Huts Association lists the known caretakers of huts in the Snowy Mountains) but others are falling into disrepair.

I am more interested in indigenous history of the high country than huts, but I do appreciate the cultural value they hold for many people and the practical value of refuge huts.

Continue reading “In praise of huts 2”

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