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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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mountain life

VIC Backcountry Festival 2020

Lots of people are asking whether the Backcountry Festival will happen this year. The short answer is YES, providing Mt Hotham is open and backcountry access is allowed.

With the COVID-19 pandemic requiring society wide shut down of non essential activity, it is not yet certain whether the 2020 ski season will happen. Obviously, like all other snow lovers, we are anxiously waiting for the government announcement on whether ski season will proceed, and if it does, in what form.

Because the festival is not scheduled until the end of winter (September 4 – 6), we are hopeful that the festival will be able to proceed.

Continue reading “VIC Backcountry Festival 2020”

The Mountain Cosmos – stories from the mountains

Mountain Journal is a celebration of mountains and the mountain life. Apart from covering issues relating to the Australian Alps and Tasmania, we have tried to acknowledge and celebrate mountain culture, for instance through running interviews with people who have long and deep connection with the hills.

So it was a delight to discover The Mountain Cosmos website, which hosts podcast interviews with people whose lives are focused on mountains, here and overseas.

It is the work of Rouchelle Gilmore.

Continue reading “The Mountain Cosmos – stories from the mountains”

Mountain Journal turns ten

Woah. What a year. We had a good winter – third in a row, despite a late start (the first month of winter 2019 was the sort of winter you would expect under climate change scenarios) although not on the scale of the previous two. We saw some erratic weather (and even Australia’s largest recorded avalanche) but it turned into a decent season, followed by a mellow spring.

But then, fire, fire and more fire. Huge impacts on people and mountains. Then, finally coming out the other side and back to normal life, along came the Coronavirus/ COVID-19 pandemic. And who knows if the lifts will run this winter. The last decade has gone so quickly. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a crazy couple of months.

The annual reflection is here.

(I thought we needed a cheerful image. This one from the Climate Strike action at Hotham last September. Image: Karl Gray).

Stay Safe. Be Well. Be Kind.

 

Day by day we get closer to society wide lock down as a way to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus/ COVID-19. It will be a long 14 days once we’re all inside. Here are a few ideas and resources that might help keep you sane and inspired.

Look after yourselves, neighbours and communities in these coming weeks and months. I can’t say it better than TGR did: Be Safe. Be Well. Be Kind.

Continue reading “Stay Safe. Be Well. Be Kind.”

2020 fires: get into the mountains and spend up big (when you can)

Up until Christmas, there hadn’t been a lot of fires in the High Country, either in Tasmania or on the mainland. That all changed on New Years Eve. Lightning storms triggered fires across Tasmanian, Victoria and NSW. What followed has been nothing less than an absolute disaster as huge areas of the mountains have burnt – and continue to do so.

With large areas evacuated, the economic impacts on local economies has been devastating. This is peak tourism season, yet entire areas are under evacuation orders, businesses are closed and events are being cancelled. The flow on effects on many people’s income will continue for months. 

I am seeing many people who are struggling because their region or business is closed. Even where a town is open, the ever present smoke in many places is not very enticing to tourists.

So once the fires are under control, please have a think about doing a trip to the High Country. Aim to head off with your wallet full and your stomach, esky and food basket empty.

Continue reading “2020 fires: get into the mountains and spend up big (when you can)”

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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In praise of the Home Range

 

We all know that air travel has a huge environmental impact. Taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a whole year. As a keen skier and walker I love an overseas adventure as much as the next addict. But having done lots of overseas trips I figure I’ve consumed well beyond a fair share of carbon, and try to stick close to home for my adventures nowadays (despite falling off the wagon and visiting Colorado a couple of times in recent years).

There is, of course, the allure of skiing new mountains (and the fantastic snow that comes with higher altitude and latitude, and grander terrain) but there is also the allure of staying at home, of deepening connection with the local hills and valleys. Even here in the south east, there is lifetimes worth of terrain to walk and big patches to ski and ride. Factor in Tasmania, and you have several lifetimes worth. I’m still yet to make it into the Cobberas in winter, am long overdue for another visit to the ‘interior’ ranges of the Howitt Plains and Mt Clear in the central Victorian Alps, or walk the Overland Track in peak snow conditions.

Continue reading “In praise of the Home Range”

Backcountry festival program launch

The program for the 2nd Victorian backcountry festival will be released via the website next week.

People who have pre registered (you can register for $10 for the weekend here) will receive early notification of the program, and be able to sign up for tours, by the end of this week.

The program looks fantastic, with offerings from Hotham ski school, Traverse Hotham, LetsSplit, Melbourne Nordic Ski Club, Mountain Sports Collective, Bushwalking Search and Rescue,  and many individuals.

Continue reading “Backcountry festival program launch”

Mountain Journal turns nine

Crikey. Another year. Sitting on the tail end of a long, hot and dry summer, it feels like the cooler seasons will never arrive. In reflecting on 2018, two things really stand out:

  • The fact we had another fantastic winter (on par with 2017, which had been billed as ‘the best since 2000’), which was followed by
  • The heatwave and dry summer that saw huge fires across Tasmania and the Victorian alps.

You can read the annual review here.

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