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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Mt Stirling

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.

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There is only 0.47% of old growth alpine ash left in Victoria

Alpine Ash, a quintessential tree of the Australian Alps, which is restricted to higher elevations, mostly between 900 m and 1,450 m in Victoria and southern New South Wales, has had 84% of it’s range burnt since 2002. Fires have burnt 84% of the bioregion’s 355,727 hectares of alpine ash forest, with 65% burnt in 2002/03 in the north of the Alps, 30% burnt in 2006/2007 in the south, and a smaller area (2%) burnt in 2009. Four per cent of the forest area was burnt twice within five years. And last summer, additional areas were burnt in the east of the state. This has led to scientists warning that large sections of Alpine Ash forests are on the verge of collapse.

And world renowned forest researcher David Lindenmayer says that only 0.47% of old growth alpine ash is left in the state of Victoria. Let that sink in for a moment.

Continue reading “There is only 0.47% of old growth alpine ash left in Victoria”

Track works on Mt Stirling summit to protect the Stirling tree

On Mt Stirling in north eastern Victoria’s High Country, there is a lone snow gum, which is several hundred years old. Earlier this year, someone heavily pruned branches from the tree, which sparked a debate about access to the mountain top.

There is a 4WD track over the alpine area of the summit. This year the Howqua Gap Track will open to the public who want to drive over the mountain from 29 November through to early May. Many people drive over the mountain during summer months, and sometimes there is poor behaviour from drivers, who take their vehicles off track. Some trail bike riders also take their bikes offtrack to the summit. This has environmental impacts and reduces the experience that many other visitors are seeking in exploring the mountain. As a result, some additional track works and signage has now been put in place. It is a shame that poor behaviour by a few has resulted in additional works needing to be carried out on the mountain.

Continue reading “Track works on Mt Stirling summit to protect the Stirling tree”

The MSC ‘Slay Safe’ backcountry academy

Mountain Sports Collective will be running a series of FREE Introduction to Advanced Backcountry sessions this season. These events are for participants who are eager to step beyond the patrol lines and learn the skills required to pursue extended ski touring (both skiing and split boarding). This is nominally everything you need to know to travel over a variety of alpine terrain (Skiing / Skinning and ALPINE Climbing) and overnight (the eDVANCED bit).

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Lets Split – 2019 tours

Lets Split is again hosting splitboarding tours this winter. There will be 3 days trips and 2 overnight trips in 2019, both in Victoria and NSW.

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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.

Logging in the Stirling Alpine Link?

A new logging coupe (the ‘Bus Loop’ coupe) is about to be logged near Mt Stirling. The trees are a mixture of (very old) snowgums, and alpine ash, only some of which is suitable for making sawlogs.

This coupe exists within the area proposed for inclusion in the Stirling Alpine Link (SAL).

Continue reading “Logging in the Stirling Alpine Link?”

Avalanche training at Mt Buller/ Mt Stirling

Alpine Access Australia is an accredited Avalanche Canada AST Provider which runs AST1 courses in NSW and Victoria. Avalanche Canada sets the global standard for providing avalanche awareness programs. Participants acquire new skills and knowledge to help them keep safe in the backcountry. As say AAA note: ‘Yes avalanches do happen in Australia, and AST1 is also essential if you and your friends venture into the side or backcountry when skiing or snowboarding overseas’.

They offer a two day AST1 course, which has a theory day and a field day. They are now bringing their training to Mt Buller and Mt Stirling.

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Report into climate impacts on Victorian resorts

There is no doubt that climate change is already impacting on snow conditions in Australia, and hence impacting on the industries that need snow to be viable. When it comes to responding to this existential threat, there are three key options: ignore it (in the hope it will go away), reduce our contribution to the problem (also called mitigation) or just try to adapt to the changes that the problem brings (also known as adaptation). With few exceptions, ski resorts in Australia have opted for the first and the third options. A sensible, responsible and forward thinking ski industry would be doing both adaptation and mitigation.

A report released by the Victorian government will help local resorts steer themselves along the path of adaptation.

Continue reading “Report into climate impacts on Victorian resorts”

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