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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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sense of place

Kerouac, Alaska and that book in my backpack

In my teen years I became obsessed with skiing, climbing, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains. My first multi day walk (the southern circuit at Wilsons Prom) propelled me into the outdoors. Me and my mates would ride our bikes out of town to go camping, we went on family trips to the snow, I did lots of hiking with a bushwalking group we set up at school, and then eventually discovered the Victorian Climbing Club, which opened up new horizons for adventures. I did my first summer of mountaineering in NZ/ Aotearoa when I was 18.

This was about getting outdoors and having adventures in the wild. But I quickly realised that I liked outdoor culture. I started to meet older people who had spent their lives pursuing climbing and skiing, and (as someone explained it to me), ‘the people of the little tents’, long distance hikers. I knew that a big part of having a healthy life was to be outdoors, to have the skills to travel through big landscapes safely and the ability to be with yourself and enjoy your own company. Solo trips became ever more important for me. Time on my own in wild nature made me spend a lot of time on the internal work that we all need to do.

Continue reading “Kerouac, Alaska and that book in my backpack”

Happy international mountain day!

December 11 is designated by the UN as international mountain day.

In the promo for the day, the UN notes:

“Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. Yet mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, over exploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world”.

True. But today I feel like ignoring the (very real) threats to the mountains we know and love, and instead focus on how much the existence of mountains improves our lives.

Continue reading “Happy international mountain day!”

Lamont magazine

Any skier, rider or MTB enthusiast who has travelled in North America will know that there is a wealth of mountain themed magazines and media on that continent. Journals that celebrate the people and culture of mountain towns, the outdoor life, and the landscapes that make it all possible. Australia, with a much smaller population and a lot fewer mountain towns, has traditionally been a bit sparse when it comes to this type of media.

So, it’s a real delight to see a new magazine which is seeking to explore and celebrate the ‘mountains and the people whose lives and loves are in them’.

Lamont magazine is the brainchild of Jindabyne-based photographer Mandy Lamont, and describes itself as a ‘mountain lifestyle magazine’. Having worked hard to make her life in the high country sustainable through pursing a range of ventures, she is now sharing her love of the mountains with others through this magazine.

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As we get older, the forests get younger

In recent weeks we have heard the astonishing news that ‘up to half’ of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef may have died in the past two years. This confirms the worst fears of environmentalists and scientists and has led to an outpouring of grief by many people. It seems that, day by day, our world gets poorer as we lose iconic landscapes.

Many people know it: they can see landscapes that are disappearing or changing before their eyes. ‘Climate tourism’ (‘see the glaciers before they melt’) is actually a thing. Yet we continue, as a society, as if everything is normal.

Continue reading “As we get older, the forests get younger”

The romance of the fire lookout

As a mountain obsessed teenager, I naturally drifted towards working in the mountains. I planted trees on the Monaro Tablelands, did some fire crew work, applied for jobs at ski resorts. I found myself the dream job for a few months, helping renovate a 100 year old store in a town in the mountains of eastern Alaska … But the ultimate romantic job was fire lookout, of course.

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Carlton & United Breweries asked to host Mt Wellington cable car

The ongoing saga about the proposal to build a cable car up the face of Mt Wellington/ kunanyi continues.

The latest development involves a request from the proponent of the cable car to access land owned by Carlton & United Breweries (the Cascade Brewery), to use as the base for their cable car, which would run from South Hobart to the top of Mount Wellington (kunanyi).

As the Wellington Defenders say: “this inappropriate and culturally insensitive development would “scar” the mountain, ruining the majestic view of Mount Wellington that the citizens of Hobart enjoy. Not only would the cable car be an ugly scar upon the mountain, but it would ruin the sense of wilderness Hobartons come to enjoy on the mountain”.

There is a petition urging CUB to refuse the request available here.

Please sign and share.

Hakuba MountainLife Magazine

One of the influences for Mountain Journal was a great magazine from Colorado called Mountain Gazette, which existed in a number of forms from the early 1970s. It was an insiders view of life, landscape, and culture in the mountain states of the USA (it now exists as an online journal).

As a lover of regionally focused art and media, I’ve long enjoyed a range of magazines from around the world, mostly North America, which cherish and appreciate the mountain environment. There are lots of great sport-focused journals that have a strong emphasis on the natural environment where our adventures take place (some of my faves include Backcountry, Wild and Rock and Ice). The rarer ones focus on culture, landscape and the interaction between people and their surroundings (Orion is a brilliant ‘all round’ journal in this regard, but I especially loved Highline, which stopped production last year).

I was recently introduced to Hakuba Mountain Life magazine, a thoroughly beautiful homage to the backcountry in this part of the Japanese Alps (thanks Peter).

It is put together by Mio Tonouchi and Damian Banwell. Damian is an Australian backcountry guide. The magazine does have a focus on their business but extends way beyond, celebrating particular mountains, providing advice on backcountry adventures and avalanche safety, and touching on the human culture that inhabits the valleys around the Japanese Alps. It has great images. The magazine describes itself as ‘reflecting our love for backcountry life in our local mountains’. Damian and Mio are doing their best to Live the Dream, riding in winter and farming at other times.

Loving and appreciating place through any form of media is a great thing to do. But I do agree with the ‘contributers’ section of the magazine, which notes the contribution of The Mountains & Nature Itself: ‘do not confuse the moon with the finger that points at it’.

[IMAGE: Hakuba Mountain Life]

Highline Magazine signs off

One of the inspirations for Mountain Journal was a magazine that came out of Colorado called the Mountain Gazette. The Gazette lived through various incarnations from the early 1970s onwards and was, in the words of one of its founders, “generally about the mountains”. Quirky, alternative, sometimes very political, and with fantastic writing about life in the mountains and the landscapes that sustain and draw people to that part of the world. It had fantastic covers, with wonderfully evocative art work.

Continue reading “Highline Magazine signs off”

International Mountain Day 2015

December 11 is designated by the UN as International Mountain Day.

Here’s a few facts from the UN:

“Covering around 22 percent of the earth’s land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth. They not only provide sustenance and wellbeing to 915 million mountain people around the world, representing 13 percent of global population, but indirectly benefit billions more living downstream”.

Where ever you are, I hope you’re out in the hills and having a great day. Please feel free to post some pics of your favourite mountains on our facebook page.

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