Winter may be long over, but the snow is still there across the higher ranges of the Australian alps. It was a winter that went through so many boom and bust cycles and if all that rain had been snow, we’d be skiing until January. Long after the resorts have closed there is still decent and rideable cover in many places, but we are getting towards the end of season 2016.
It’s April: two months til winter… Which gets us all thinking about what type of season it will be.
Most Australian snow enthusiasts know about The Grasshopper, who writes snow forecasts for MountainWatch (‘resident meteorology sensei’ at MountainWatch).
A new snowboarding and surfing film will have three premiere showings in Australia next week.
Filmed in the powder capital of Hokkaido, and focusing on the legendary Gentem Family, who have pioneered the ‘Snow Surf’ revolution epitomised by Gentemstick, this film features some of the very best Japanese and western Snow Surf riders.
Many of the key players in the movement are featured in SnowSurf, which was filmed over two years by Australian surf photographer, Shane Peel.
It features: Taro Tamai, Gerry Lopez, Ken Miyashita, Alex Yoder, Osamu “Om” Okada, Beau Young, Hideki Takeda, Hidehiko Wajima, Forrest Shearer, Makato Yamada, Par Dahlin, Timo Paarvala, Kazushi Yamauchi, Alex Lopez, Takuya Harayama, Tomomi Kuwahara, Toru Kuwahara, Toshiya Kasuga, Jarrkko Kauranen, Haruna Kito and the Gentemstick Family.
Patagonia, the major sponsor of the film, will be screening Snowsurf at their Sydney, Torquay and Byron Stores next week.
23rd September. Sydney store – 6pm (93 Bathurst St, Sydney)
25th September. Torquay store – 6pm (116 SurfCoast Hwy, Torquay)
26th September. Café Byron – 6pm (Shop1/ 58 Jonson st Byron Bay)
You can see the trailer here.
You can rsvp for the events on Facebook.
As we all know, backcountry is the new black. The ski and boarding magazines are full of stories about the western faces of the Main Range, Bogong and Feathertop. And while there are lots of new outdoor enthusiasts who are getting a good all round experience of conditions and terrain, as well as sound BC skills, we have probably all seen the 20 something (mostly male) boarders who are fresh out of the resort and ready to shred, but lacking in BC experience. This is all great. But what it does mean is that we are finding ever more good resort riders and skiers getting out into backcountry areas and big terrain, without having done any apprenticeship in the mountains. What this means is more rescues, injuries and other incidents.
As recently noted on Mountain Journal, there is now a site that reports on snow conditions for backcountry users in the Snowy Mountains, called Snow Safety Australia.
There is also a site that covers conditions right across the mainland Alps, called Snow Sense.
Snow Sense is the mastermind of Simon Murray. It seeks to cover weather as well as snow conditions across three key regions: the Kosciusko area, north east Victoria and the Central Victorian Alps. Regular updates are made, called in by ski patrollers, generally after the dawn patrol. It is a fantastic resource for all backcountry skiers, riders and snow shoers who like to get out into the higher country.
As we swing into the southern spring, it’s autumn in the northern hemisphere and everyone is gearing up for winter. All the magazines have their buyers guides and this year’s crop of mountain related films are doing the rounds.
Here’s a couple that have surfaced, for some late season inspiration.
After a good, early start to the season, the dreaded El Nino influence has seen very ordinary conditions across the Alps since opening weekend in early June…. Most resorts are getting by with very limited terrain being open, and snow making being the source of the skiable stuff. The backcountry, at least in Victoria, is bare, and the Main Range looks pretty basic.
So, this report from The Grasshopper at Mountain Watch is bringing hope to lots of folks:
“The good news: “The best hope of some decent snow is still 11 to 14 July, but unfortunately there’s a bit less agreement amongst the various computer models today. Cold air does not look like it will be an issue; with high pressure to the west and low pressure to the east we’re assured of several days of cold south-west to southerly flow.”
“The big question is whether we get the moisture to combine with that cold air to create snow. Yesterday, I was getting good signals wherever I looked and so 30 to 50cm was the call if those forecasts could hold. Today I’m just seeing a couple of uncertain wobbles in the weather pattern which means I’m going to hedge my bets a little wider and call this 10 to 50cm. Long story short, the upside potential is still very much in play, but a bit more downside has crept in. It happens.”
Check MountainWatch for updates as we get closer to the 11th.
And if you’re getting out amongst it, why not post some photos on the Mountain Journal facebook page?
[Header image: fantastic early snow on Mt Thetis, Tasmania, April 2015]
The love of mountain sports invites you and all to an Australian Backcountry Information Evening. The night is hosted by Watkin McLennan and presented in association with Marker Bindings, Rhythm Snowsports, Mountainwatch.com and Chillfactor Magazine.
When: Thursday 16th July from 7:30pm
Where: Banjo’s Back Room. 1 Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne.
The evening is for Australian backcountry skiers and snowboarders of all levels of experience and ages. The night kicks off with a short film shot on The Roof of Australia.
Following the film Bill Barker will talk about the hazards unique to the Australian mountains. Bill has been patrolling for over 20 years, is a certified guide with the Canadian Ski Guide Association, and a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. He is the director of ski patrol at Mt Hotham and runs epic backcountry trips to Gulmarg, India. Visit www.billstrips.com. Continue reading “Backcountry Information Night”
The ANU Mountaineering Club is hosting the Backcountry Film Festival.
Thursday, 23 July 2015 – 6:30pm to 8:30pm
A chance to get together and more importantly fire up the stoke for the ski season. We’ll be showing the Backcountry Film Festival put together by the Winter Wildlands Alliance.
The screening will be in the Haydon Allen Tank on ANU, starting at 6:30pm, Thursday 23 July.
We ask for a $5 entry donation from members and $10 from non-members with proceeds going to the Australian Himalayan Foundation.
Further information available here.
For details on the films, check here.
Backcountry is the new black.
In the last few years, all things backcountry have come in from the fringe, and are now ubiquitous, featuring in films, magazines, books, and gear. I assume that for most people its slightly voyeuristic. People like to read about the amazing runs on offer in the backcountry without necessarily actually getting out there themselves. But there certainly is a new generation of skiers and boarders heading out for an adventure, and BC specific gear is one of the growth areas in the snow equipment industry.
Here in Australia, attention has tended to focus on two of our most spectacular BC destinations: Mt Bogong in Victoria, and the western slopes of the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains (yes, there is lots more on offer, often harder to access and perhaps less iconic. Then there’s Tasmania, which has some insanely good terrain on the rare occasion that it actually comes into shape for riding. But that’s another story).