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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Mt Buller

Chillfactor 2021

2020 was the ‘Year that Wasn’t’ for many of us mountain lovers. Essentially no ski season in Victoria in the resorts, alpine parks closed, and no international travel to get to higher mountains elsewhere.

That had a huge impact on snow based and snow reliant businesses. As was reported recently in The Age, ‘During the 2020 snow season, Victorian alpine resorts received about 90,000 visitors, a 90 per cent decline on the previous year. The visitation collapse dealt a heavy financial blow, with economic activity plummeting to $109 million compared to more than $1 billion generated in the 2019 Victorian snow season’.

One small mountain business that made it through was Chillfactor, which is an essential part of Australian skiing culture. And the 2021 issue of the magazine is a great reflection on the winter that wasn’t.

Continue reading “Chillfactor 2021”

Victoria’s alpine resort management boards to be merged into Alpine Resorts Victoria

The Andrews government has announced the establishment of a new management structure for Victoria’s alpine resorts.

Alpine Resorts Victoria – set to start work by July 2022 – is intended to ‘make Alpine Boards more efficient’. It will be created by merging Victoria’s four alpine resort management boards, and will govern Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Mt Buller, Mt Stirling, Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw resorts.

Continue reading “Victoria’s alpine resort management boards to be merged into Alpine Resorts Victoria”

Victorian Alps relief auction

Your chance to give back to Victoria’s Alpine Region, hit hard by bushfires and Covid-19. 

The Victorian alpine community has a special place in all of our adventure hearts, filled with beautiful mountains, great people and businesses, amazing food and memories shared through generations. 

But the community we all love is hurting – first with the bushfires, then the cancellation of the 2020 ski season due to Covid-19. They need our help. 

Which is why the team at Amer Sports have brought the Australian outdoors and snow industry together to create an online auction for you to support the alpine businesses doing it tough in Victoria. 

Continue reading “Victorian Alps relief auction”

Remembering the mountain pygmy-possum on National Threatened Species Day

 National Threatened Species Day happens on 7 September.  It is a day to consider native plants, animals and ecosystems that are under threat and how we can protect them into the future. 

It is held annually to commemorate the night of 7 September 1936 when the last Tasmanian tiger died in Hobart Zoo. With the death of this animal the thylacine species became extinct. 

This year we thought we would focus on the mountain pygmy-possum.

Continue reading “Remembering the mountain pygmy-possum on National Threatened Species Day”

Stage 3 and 4 lockdown impacts on VIC resorts

The pandemic has thrown yet another spanner in the works for Victorian skiers and riders. With the authorities struggling to keep a lid on infections in metropolitan Melbourne, the premier has now announced stage 4 restrictions for the metro area, and stage 3 (stay at home) restrictions for the rest of the state until at least September 13.

This means that basically all resorts and mountain areas are closed.

Continue reading “Stage 3 and 4 lockdown impacts on VIC resorts”

VIC ski season update – what’s open

With the announcement that Mt Hotham and Falls Creek lift operations will be closed ‘until at least 19 August’, and other resorts about to make announcements, the season has suddenly changed (again).

Here’s what’s known as at July 12.

Continue reading “VIC ski season update – what’s open”

Picnic in the Park (Mirimbah, March 8)

We know how devastating this summer’s fires have been for the environment. They have also been terrible for most local economies. As areas have reopened, tourist trade is starting to pickup. Many areas are organising special events to attract visitors back. The Labour Day long weekend in early March will be a significant time for High Country communities.

As part of this, there will be a major ‘picnic in the park’ happening at Mirimbah, at the base of Mt Buller over that weekend.

Continue reading “Picnic in the Park (Mirimbah, March 8)”

Crazy conditions in the backcountry

The Alps have a remarkable variety of conditions in the backcountry at present and it would be wise to carefully scope slopes before committing.

In the Hotham area there are significant patches of water ice which have formed over the snow and large areas of ice sheets. In wind affected and exposed locations, the sastrugi can be have and very difficult to ski. But depending on aspect, there are also sun affected slopes that offer forgiving conditions on northerly and north west facing slopes. However, there was a significant sized wet slide of snow at Mt Buller today (Aug 31) and potential for wet slides in other areas that have become loaded with wet and heavy snow. On some slopes in the north east of the state, runs start nicely but have continuous sheet ice on lower sections. This has been reported on popular sidecountry runs like Women’s Downhill at Mt Higginbotham.

The take home message is that there is a wild variety of conditions and some of these are very dangerous. Please be very cautious in your backcountry travels and take particular care to scope slopes for ice before committing.

The tragic death of Dave Blair on Mt Bogong this week underscores the dangerous conditions. It is understood that Dave hit ice and crashed into trees in the Eskdale Spur area. A recent major rescue at Mt Hotham was required after an experienced rider took a long slide on ice and hit a tree in avalanche gully.

Remember to check the Mountain Sports Collective backcountry conditions bulletin before heading out.

[IMAGE: the southern slopes of The Twins in north east Victoria earlier this week. These slopes were dangerously ‘bulletproof’].

UPDATE: SEPT 2

Conditions are still very patchy. For instance, Dargo Bowl at Hotham is skiing nicely, but adjacent slopes are still bullet proof.

Bill Barker, head of Hotham ski patrol says:

“A short period of border-line precipitation during the early evening followed by the cooling in the early hours will mean most aspects and elevations will now have a solid melt freeze surface and will pose a very significant sliding hazard. Solar aspects will soften for good spring turns once the day warms but be very cautions of south facing slopes that will stay hard all day. There may still be patches of dry snow at the very top but this will most likely turn to bullet proof ice mid slope. Take care out there”.

Winter arrives early!

Time for a road trip!

The snow currently hitting the Alps and Tasmania means an early skiing/ riding season at some resorts.

As a result of spectacular snow falls (Hotham is already reporting 65 cm!), a number of resorts are opening early, including:

Perisher, from Friday May 31 (although Perisher Skitube and Shuttle Service between Perisher and Smiggin Holes will not run until June Long Weekend).

Mt Buller (lifts starting June 2, with their new chairlift opening as well).

Mt Buller and Mt Stirling will both officially open on 1 June, offering half price resort entry from Saturday until the Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Most others are opening over the traditional Queens birthday weekend (June 8 – 10).

And, of course, there is a good cover in the backcountry across higher mountain areas – obviously take care out there as the base will not have consolidated as yet.

Climate change pushes the Mountain Pygmy Possum closer to extinction

The Mountain Pygmypossum, Burramys parvus, is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial.

It is a small, mouse-sized nocturnal marsupial found in dense alpine rock screes and boulder fields, mainly in southern Victoria and around Mount Kosciuszko. The species is currently restricted to three isolated mountain regions:  Mount Blue Cow in Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales, Mount Bogong and Mount Higginbotham/ Mt Loch in the Bogong High Plains in Victoria, and Mount Buller in Victoria.

The biggest threats to the remaining mountain pygmy possum populations include:

Now, recent research underscores the fact that climate change may be posing a major threat to the viability of the species by decimating the moths which act as a major food source for the possum.

The Guardian reports that the Bogong Moth which migrate in their billions to alpine areas have crashed, which is putting extra pressure on the endangered mountain pygmy possum.

Continue reading “Climate change pushes the Mountain Pygmy Possum closer to extinction”

Fires in the VIC High Country

There are a number of fires in the Victorian high country.

These include:

  • Three bushfires ignited by lightning strikes on Wednesday afternoon North west of Dargo are not yet under control.
  • A 13 ha bushfire 3.3km South West of the Mt Buller Village at Little Mt Buller, which is still not yet under control.

If you’re heading to any of these areas, please check the Emergency Victoria website first to ensure it’s safe to visit.

[IMAGE: this is an old image of a previous fire near Dargo, from the Gippsland Times].

Taungurung sign Native Title deal with VIC government

Victoria has signed the largest native title claim in the state’s history, recognising the Taungurung as traditional owners in across large sections of northern and north eastern Victoria and awarding a settlement of more than $33m. The agreement covers sections of the high country and Alpine National Park, including Mt Buller, Mt Cobbler and the Buffalo Plateau.

Continue reading “Taungurung sign Native Title deal with VIC government”

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