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Backcountry gathering in Melbourne

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 Fest get together.

Thursday NOV 28.

Upstairs at Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith St, Collingwood. Enter via the side, on Perry Street, and head up the stairs.

We’ll start at 6.30pm, have a quick chat about how you can get involved (there will be a series of working groups taking on different parts of the festival like the touring program, the speakers program, the outdoor bar, etc). Please bring your ideas and enthusiasm about what you want to contribute next year to make it bigger and better.

Then from 7 til 8pm (ish) we will drag a few classic backcountry films out of the vault and enjoy on the big screen (ingredients likely to contain Jeremy Jones shredding big lines in Alaska). Please feel free to BYO drinks. Free event.

Facebook event page here.

Come along and catch up with the BC crew.

If you can’t make it along, remember that you’re welcome  to complete a brief survey about the festival and what you would like to see next year.

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Calling Backcountry film makers

Are you a backcountry skier, snowboarder or snow shoer who also makes films?

We are looking for some short, locally made backcountry films to screen at the Backcountry Film Festival (BCFF) in Melbourne (March or April 2020) and the 3rd Victorian Backcountry Festival (Mt Hotham, September 2020). The BCFF program is put together by the US-based Winter Wildlands Alliance, and this season features a great line up of films (details here). But we like to open up the season with a local film.

Here’s an example of one from a couple of years ago – Mt Townsend 2209. If you’re keen to contribute something please get in touch. Cam.walker@foe.org.au

It needs to be under 7 minutes and suitable quality for a big audience of backcountry enthusiasts.

Check here for details on the Backcountry Film Festival.

VIC backcountry festival 2020

After receiving resounding feedback about the 2nd Victorian Backcountry festival, we have decided to lock in dates and locations for 2020.

It will be a three day festival, held from Friday to Sunday, September 4 – 6.

Due to the huge level of support from the Hotham community and businesses and attendees, we will keep the festival at Hotham.

We will keep the basic format – lots of tours and workshops, speaker’s program, outdoor bar, AST 1 avalanche training, and an extended trip after the festival. Spreading the festival over three days will allow us to fit more in.

There is still time to provide feedback. Check the online form here. We’re getting some really great feedback on how to make it a better event, so please take a few minutes to let us know your thoughts.

If you know of any major clashes with these dates, please let us know asap. Cam.walker@foe.org.au

See you out there.

Report on the 2019 VIC backcountry festival

The 2019 Victorian backcountry festival is done and dusted. This year the BC Fest moved to Mt Hotham, and it was wonderful to see the Hotham – and broader BC community – embrace the new location. Hotham is the perfect spot because of the amazing terrain, ease of access and strong backcountry community, both on the mountain and down valley in Bright and Harrietville. Close to 400 people registered. We had 31 tours, skillshares and workshops, an extended speaker’s program, a Protect Our Winters info and film night and a ski-in outdoor bar at Village Lookout in the Christmas Hills.

Thanks

The first thing I need to do is thank everyone who backed or got involved in the festival. Of course, there are too many names, but here’s a start:

Bev Lawrence David F
Bev Lawrence, Environmental Officer Mt Hotham Resort Management [Image: David Flanders]

Resort management and lift company were fantastic in their support. Special thanks to Adam Galvin and Jason Nightingale from resort management and snow groomer Greg O’Donohue. The venues were so supportive – big thanks especially to Sooty, Darren and everyone at The General, Marty at The SnowBird, and Mark at Blizzard Brewery. And the people who pitched in to help, especially Buff Farnell, Kelly van den Berg, who brought in so many skilled tour leaders, and Merrin Jokic, who MC’d an epic afternoon of speakers. Rupert from Bright Brewery, Mel and Luka from Crepe Collective and Steve Belli did the food and drinks at our outdoor bar. The bar itself was a work of art, a product of much digging by my partner Natalie, Dave, Peter, and my brother Mitch, Kyle, Simon and his crew. The speaker’s program was huge and people made a real effort to be there. Thanks to Josh from POW and Stephen Curtain for his film making workshop. Dave, Pieta and Luka from Alpine Access ran avalanche courses as the training partner for the festival. Big thanks to Peter Campbell and all the Bush Search and Rescue crew, Jason Ball from Vic Police SAR, and Rolf Schonfeld for his endless commitment to snow and avalanche safety. A deep bow to head of ski patrol Bill Barker who provided impeccable advice on conditions and inspiring presentations at The Genny. Simon Murray dug snow pits and did most of our graphic design. Chris Hocking and Drew Jolowicz provided amazing sidecountry images. David Flanders was our rego desk guy and podcast interviewer extraordinaire.

BSAR CW
Bush Search & Rescue workshop

Of course, the tour leaders, who brought incredible skills and knowledge and donated their time and insights and were all amazing. And you – the backcountry community, who showed up and pitched in. It really was a fantastic and inspiring weekend.

In my post festival delirium I know there are many more people to thank.

Next year

bar
The outdoor bar at Village Lookout

From resounding feedback, it’s clear that the festival has come home to Hotham. We need to check dates and lock in venues but we’re hoping it will happen over the weekend of September 5 and 6, 2020.

Highlights

As was the case last year, we worked hard to ensure a diversity of voices in the speaker’s program. Melissa Clarke provided a phenomenal level of knowledge about touring the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains and the joys and pitfalls of touring with pulks (sleds). Ash Peplow Ball spoke compellingly of the need for the snow sports community to get organised to protect winter. Bill Barker shared his knowledge of Hotham avalanche hotspots. Tim Macartney-Snape shared more than 40 years worth of incredible images of climbing and skiing big peaks around the world. Bev Lawrence and Georgina Boardman updated us on the plight of the Mountain Pygmy Possum and efforts to protect remnant communities. Hotham legend Buff Farnell shared some of his favourite images of skiing Hotham over many decades, many of them from acclaimed photographers Andrew Barnes and Karl Gray. Climate striker and skier Naimh Smith-O’Connor finished off the POW night with a powerful message. Ted Suurkivi, Mark Frost, Mia Walker, Kelly van den Berg, Lisse Dunser, Simon Murray and Josh Fletcher also spoke.

Georgina Boardman DF
Georgina Boradman, MHRMB. [Image: David Flanders]

We tried to offer a range of beginner and intermediate courses, covering everything from snow shoeing to ski mountaineering. There was self rescue and first aid, navigation and snow camping. After a warm and sunny week, Saturday morning saw the return of winter and considerable avalanche risk, so many tours ended up going ‘south side’ into places like Women’s Downhill rather than onto the higher peaks. Amine from LetsSplit led another successful splitboard outing and with better conditions on the Sunday, there were trips out to the Workshop Chutes, Dargo Bowl, Eagle Ridge and Mt Loch. Daniel Sherwin and Kyle Boys are leading the three day trip out to Feathertop which starts this morning.We also had a strong presence from a number of outdoor brands. The North Face put up their expedition dome, Wilderness Sports made the journey from Jindabyne, and Everest Sports and Snow Sports and Travel and Mammut were also on board, offering a wide range of demo gear and products. Patagonia provided prizes for the POW event, and Blue Dinosaur offered heaps of energy bars. Thanks also to the businesses who offered inkind support through providing venues.

Merrin DF
Merrin Jokic

There were glitches and things that could have been done better. Thankyou to everyone for their good humour and generosity of spirit throughout the festival.

We all love snow

After a huge weekend, I’m starting the final packup and enjoying this fresh snow. There will be an online feedback poll circulated to people who registered this week and I would also welcome your direct feedback via email. It’s clear that we are onto something with these festivals and it now needs to grow beyond being a one man show. The remarkable growth in the festival in just two years and keen interest shows that there is a deep interest in the backcountry. I hope that we can set up an organising team for the 2020 festival soon.

Josh DF
Josh Fletcher from POW. [Image: David Flanders]

By definition, skiing and riding in the backcountry is something we tend to do in small groups. It was wonderful to see and meet some many great people, share a beer around a fire on a gorgeous mountain top, and see the energy and enthusiasm as people came back in from their tours. We’re a diverse bunch and have the shared love of mountains, deep snow and winter and it was great to have had the chance to help bring a good chunk of the BC community together to enjoy some turns, have good conversations, and some wonderful time out in our wild and beautiful mountains.See you next year. Cam

IMAGES.

A couple of images from the festival. Please send me yours for use on the website and promos: cam.walker@foe.org.au or post on the event facebook page.

BSAR3 CW

crowd at POW DF
Watching ‘Treeline’. Image: David Flanders]

demo CW

sat tour Peter Robinson
Saturday snowshoe tour [Image: Peter Robinson]
Naimh DF
Climate striker and skier Niamh. [Image: David Flanders]
Mt Loch Vincent Cover
Mt Loch trip. [Image: Vincent J Cover]

 

Continue reading “Report on the 2019 VIC backcountry festival”

Lets Split trip to Dead Horse Gap

Lets Split is a volunteer based initiative, designed to expand and strengthen the Australian Splitboard community.  We are a group of experienced SplitBoarders, who invite others to join us touring in the backcountry – hoping that the important skills needed for safe backcountry travel can pass into the younger generation of riders who are perhaps less experienced than us.

Here is a report from Lets Split founder Amine Yasmine on their recent trip to Dead Horse Gap in the Snowy Mountains.

Continue reading “Lets Split trip to Dead Horse Gap”

The ultimate backcountry festival guide

The second Victorian backcountry festival will happen at Mt Hotham over the weekend of September 7 and 8.

Here is a summary of what’s happening:

Highlights of the program

  • Meet at 8.30am on Saturday morning, upstairs at The General Store (just next to the Big D lift) for the festival opening.
  • Most tours start Saturday am.
  • Speaker’s program will run Upstairs at The General Store from 12 noon – 4pm. Great line up of speakers.
  • The outdoor bar will happen from 4 – 6pm on the Saturday, straight after the conclusion of the speakers program.
  • Kick on Saturday night at Blizzard Brewery at Dinner Plain.
  • Tours continue on Sunday.
  • Finish the weekend with a Protect Our Winters info night and films at The Bird in Hotham Central on sunday night.

[Full details are in the program, see below]

For details on tours that have just been offered, please check here.

Continue reading “The ultimate backcountry festival guide”

Photographs by David Rosendale

Photographer David Rosendale returns to exhibit at Falls Creek with selected prints from his year long study of seasonal change, “The Fall”, with new and unreleased works spanning the years 2016 – 2019.

This Exhibition represents work produced whilst Artist in Residence at Falls Creek in 2017 and beyond, a perpetual commitment and study of the Victorian Alpine landscape.

The exhibition runs from 23 – 25 August 2019.

Continue reading “Photographs by David Rosendale”

‘You can’t be what you can’t see’

The backcountry scene still tends to be quite ‘bloke heavy’: a lot of the people involved in BC riding and skiing tend to be white males. While demographics are changing in the resorts, with a wider range of people visiting than in previous decades, this has also been noticeable in the backcountry community. There are lots of women and gender diverse people who are out there, and as with the festival last year, we want to provide a platform for a diversity of voices in the program for the VIC backcountry festival, which will happen at Mt Hotham over the weekend of September 7 and 8..

As former Olympic skier Katya Crema said last year: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. We have worked to ensure a range of voices, including women, are strongly represented in the program. Here are some highlights:

Continue reading “‘You can’t be what you can’t see’”

Backcountry festival speaker’s program

As part of the 2019 Victorian backcountry festival, we are hosting an extended speaker’s program. This will happen on the afternoon of Saturday September 7, upstairs at The General, Mt Hotham.

The program will run from midday to 4pm (and will be followed by a ski in outdoor bar from 4 – 6pm).

Check below for the program. We have a few more things coming, so times will vary slightly before we get to the final program.

Continue reading “Backcountry festival speaker’s program”

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