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Mt Hotham

The Mountain Pygmy Possum recovery program gets ready for a tough summer

Each spring for thousands of years, tens of millions of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) have migrated more than 1,000 kilometres from their breeding grounds in southern Queensland, north and the western slopes of New South Wales, and Victoria, to caves in the Australian Alps.

Continue reading “The Mountain Pygmy Possum recovery program gets ready for a tough summer”

Support the #climatestrike – wherever you are

On September 20 people around the world will be standing up to confront the climate crisis because our politicians won’t.

Australia is already on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Prolonged drought. Flash flooding. Erratic winters. Catastrophic bushfires, severe cyclones and heatwaves. But just at the time when we need to ramp up climate solutions, our government wants to open the floodgates to new coal, oil and gas projects that put all of us at risk.

So, on September 20, three days before the UN Emergency Climate Summit, school students are inviting everyone to join them for the biggest ever global #ClimateStrike. There are more than 100 events planned around Australia (check here to find your closest event).

Members of the Mt Hotham community will be supporting the strike (check here for details).

If you can’t join the strike, why not post your support from wherever you are.

Outdoor adventure relies on healthy natural environments. Whether you walk, climb, ride, paddle, ski, trail run, snowboard – or anything else – the environment you love is at risk from climate change.

And if you work in the outdoor industry, your livelihood is at risk from out of control climate change. For instance, the Australian ski industry alone generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people. Yet under current greenhouse scenarios, climate change could cut Australia’s ski season by more than two months.

It’s easy to support the strike without showing up >

  • Take or post a photo of you in a favourite place.
  • Post on whatever platform you prefer, using #climatestrike and #PlacesWorthProtecting and say that you support the strike and want governments to act on climate change. Tag in the PM: @ScottMorrisonMP

And why not sign our petition to the PM while you’re at it?

Protect Our Winters is mobilising the outdoor community to take action on climate change. You can find out more and sign up for their newsletter here.

Other ideas on taking action are available here.

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Below: The Hotham community is supporting #ClimateStrike. Images: Karl Gray

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Hotham strike poster

Image below: Kelly van den Berg

Kelly

Image below: Climate strike in Jindabyne. Photo: Shawn Marlene Joynt-Davies

Jindabyne

Image below: Bright, NE VIC. Photo from Sustainable Upper Ovens.

Bright

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Image below: Josh Fletcher, Protect Our Winters Australia. Mt Buller.

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Image below: Bright Brewery.

‘CLIMATE ACTION // We’re made for the mountains – we live, play, and brew here. Climate change is already impacting our mountain home and the future threats to the places we love are terrifying. Massive kudos to the students of Bright P-12 College for organising today’s local #climatestrike Our mountains are definitely #placesworthprotecting

Bright brewery

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marncat

Look at this beauty. It’s seriously #worthprotecting Change needs to happen. #placesworthprotecting #climatestrike

Marncat

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hannahmajigy

#placesworthprotecting . Supporting the #climatestrike because #weallneedwinter . @scottmorrisonmp we need climate action to protect these places

Hannah
Image below: Brett Webb.
Brett Webb

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The @globalclimatestrike is happening TOMORROW (Friday 20th) There are over 100 events across Australia happening but if you can’t be there, why not post a photo of your favourite place. Even better, one of yourself in your favourite place. Tag yourself in to #ClimateStrike. Add your voice.

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Mining was a big part of my earlier life. Paid for my way of life for a long time. Whether its coal, iron ore or limestone, these industries are still needed but there are now options to reduce our carbon footprint. I now work in renewables for a large wind farm generating zero emissions and with no need to fuel the turbines with anything other than free wind it’s a win – win scenario for the generation market.
Dont let the government tell you it’s fake news.
#protectourwintersaus

Adam W

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brodyleven

Let’s go absolutely huge tomorrow. globalclimatestrike.net for a march near you
pics by @jamesqmartin

Brody

Image below: Mountain Kitchen, Dinner Plain.

Students from the Alpine School heading to the climate event.

Mtn Kitchen

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Let’s protect all of are favourite places#climatestrike #placesworthprotecting

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patagoniaaus

Todays #climatestrike in Sydney was incredible. We’re inspired by the next generation that lead the march.
Our leaders can’t ignore their push for action.
There’s no room in government for climate deniers.
#answerwithaction 📷 @jarrahlynch

Patagoniastrike

Image below: From Respect The Mountain (Hobart).

Protecting our winters. The people’s mountain – dogs are welcome too!
Thankyou to all the climate action strikers who were out there in force yesterday.

Image Credit: Gary Tew, kunanyi/Mt Wellington 2018.

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A number of our stores will be closing today to support Global Climate Marches across Australia and New Zealand.

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“I support action on climate change not just because I want to protect the beautiful places in which I play, but because it is basic common sense to care for the one planet we have. Climbing and Paragliding, my two favorite sports owe many of their evolutions to advancements in efficiency and technology – the same innovations that are helping with the climate crisis. I’m proud to be on The North Face Team that shares these values and is making meaningful action to reduce their impact and inspire others to do the same.” Words by @cedarwright

Image below: Paddy Pallin

Paddy Pallin is proud to support the Global Climate Strike.
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Join us, we are striking for the future of our planet!⠀⠀⠀

Paddy Pallin

Mt Hotham community supports the #climatestrike

To everyone who cares about a safe climate future, this is your invitation to join the Global #ClimateStrike on September 20 – people around the world standing up to confront the climate crisis when our politicians won’t.

Australia is already on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Prolonged drought. Flash flooding. Catastrophic bushfires, severe cyclones and heatwaves. But just at the time when we need to ramp up climate solutions, our Government wants to open the floodgates to new coal, oil and gas projects that put all of us at risk.

So, on September 20, three days before the UN Emergency Climate Summit, school students are inviting everyone to join us for our biggest ever global #ClimateStrike.

And members of the Mt Hotham community will be supporting the strike.

Continue reading “Mt Hotham community supports the #climatestrike”

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

demo CW

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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”

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”.

Avalanche refresher course at Hotham

If you’ve done an AST1 avalanche course in the past and want to brush up on your avalanche skills before the Spring touring season or getting into the backcountry overseas – Alpine Access Australia is offering an AST1 Refresher. It will happen the day before the Victorian backcountry festival starts.

It consists of a day in the backcountry, with a hands-on approach covering

  • multiple burial companion rescue,
  • terrain and route selection,
  • snowpack analysis, weather and safe backcountry choices.

At Mt Hotham, Friday 6th September.

Details, gear list and bookings available here.

Protect Our Winters film night at Hotham

Sunday September 8.

The Snow Bird, Hotham Central, 6.30 – 9pm.

Protect Our Winters (POW) is mobilising the outdoor sports community against climate change. It was founded by the legendary snowboarder Jeremy Jones and is active across North America and Europe. POW is now taking off in Australia.

Come along to this session to hear what’s happening, how you can support POW, and how to get involved. Great speakers and two films. All welcome.

 

Featuring presentations from:

Josh Fletcher, lead advocate for Protect Our Winters (POW) Australia

Bill Barker, head of Hotham ski patrol, Patagonia ambassador

Niamh O’Connor Smith, 16 year old skier and student climate striker

PLUS

Home in the blizzard by Stephen Curtain

Skiing needs and gives balance. Feeling and understanding that helps to know balance and equilibrium in the landscape, even in the wildest blizzards. Antarctic and alpine film maker, guide and educator Stephen Curtain shares a bold map of hope and action for a snowier, cooling planet when we choose to ‘look for the gaps, not the trees’.

Treeline, the new film from Patagonia:

treeline‘Treeline takes us to the enshrined cypress groves of Japan, the towering red cedars of British Columbia, and the ancient bristlecones of Nevada, following a handful of skiers, snowboarders, scientists and healers as they move through these giants and explore a connection older than humanity.’

Entry by donation. All proceeds direct to POW Australia.

Plus a screening of 30 second stories on what protecting winter means, as created by participants from the POW film-making workshop and ski tour led by Stephen Curtain happening during the festival. There will be a people’s choice award for a prize from a POW Australia partner.

Facebook event page.

POWFollow POW on facebook.

Supported by Patagonia, and presented as part of the 2nd Victorian backcountry festival.

 

Continue reading “Protect Our Winters film night at Hotham”

Zoos Victoria launches campaign to help the Mountain Pygmy Possum

Each spring, Mountain Pygmy-possums wake up from their annual hibernation, hungry for nutritious Bogong Moths to eat so they can raise their young.

Bogong Moths normally migrate from Queensland, NSW and western Victoria towards Mountain Pygmy-possum habitats in the mountains. But for the past two years they haven’t arrived, which is putting extra pressure on the endangered possum.

Scientists believe the “astonishing” drop in Bogong Moth numbers is linked to climate change and recent droughts in areas where the moths breed.

Zoos Victoria notes that as well as other threats, such as drought and pesticide use, ‘bright lights from towns and cities are thought to lure and trap the moths along their migration route’.

With the crash in Bogong Moth numbers, Zoos Victoria has launched a program to help the general community to help the moths – and hence the Mountain Pygmy Possum.

Continue reading “Zoos Victoria launches campaign to help the Mountain Pygmy Possum”

Beacon search station at Mt Hotham

Rolf Schönfeld is a local from north east Victoria with a passion for backcountry safety. This winter he has set up an avalanche beacon search station close to the summit of Mt Hotham. It is located on the Great Alpine Road near the parking spot for The Cross, between Diamantina hut and the Loch carpark. If you’re traveling past and spot Rolf’s red land cruiser, drop by and brush up on your beacon search skills.

20190821_153957He is also offering avalanche beacon training as part of the Victorian backcountry festival, which will happen at Mt Hotham over the weekend of September 7 and 8 (check here for full details).

There is a crowd fund campaign to establish a permanent Avalanche Training Centre (ATC) at Hotham, which would be a permanent version of the system for training transceiver and probe search that Rolf sets up at The Cross. To find out more about this project to GoFundATC, check here.

Rolf runs a business called Rescue Technologies – you can find out more here.

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Rolf

 

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