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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow shoeing

The 2018 Victorian backcountry festival

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along to the inaugural Victorian backcountry festival (BCF). More than 200 people attended over the two days, with more than 20 sessions being held, including clinics, tours, skillshares, presentations, and a film festival.

BCF grew from the world telemark day celebrations that have been happening at Mt Hotham the last 5 years. After deciding to bring it to Falls Creek, the idea morphed into an ‘all things backcountry’ event which would aim to bring together some of the backcountry (BC) community and offer an opportunity for ‘first timers’ to get involved. We focused on many forms of human powered winter adventure – including cross country, snow shoeing, alpine touring, telemark and splitboarding.

Continue reading “The 2018 Victorian backcountry festival”

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One month til the inaugural Australian backcountry festival!

Media release. August 1, 2018

Ski / Ride Hard. Do Good.

The Backcountry festival will happen at Falls Creek, over the weekend of September 1 and 2, 2018.

It aims to celebrate all things backcountry – telemark, split boarding, cross country, snow shoeing and alpine touring.

Festival organiser Cam Walker said “our vision is to host a grass-roots gathering at Falls Creek for backcountry skiers and riders of all abilities.  If you’re interested in any form of human powered adventure in the winter backcountry, you should be there. Beginners to advanced, all are welcome.

Continue reading “One month til the inaugural Australian backcountry festival!”

Traverse Hotham cross country and snow shoe tours

Traverse Hotham is offering cross country (XC) and snow shoe tours at Mt Hotham. The aim is to make both these activities accessible to a new generation of people by offering tours of the trail network, scenic snowshoe walks and introductory lessons in XC skiing.

Hotham has a great network of XC trails but many visitors to the mountain are unaware of them. These are largely centred on the Wire Plain area including the unique Brabralung Trail right through to Dinner Plain and can be accessed via XC trail from Davenport Village or via the village bus network.

Continue reading “Traverse Hotham cross country and snow shoe tours”

Australian backcountry festival. September 1.

This winter we will be co-hosting a backcountry gathering.

It has grown out of the World Telemark Day gatherings that have been happening at Mt Hotham in north eastern Victoria each September.

This year we have moved to Falls Creek resort and broadened the focus to cover all forms of human and gravity powered backcountry travel, including telemark skiing, split boarding, cross country, snow shoeing and alpine touring.

Continue reading “Australian backcountry festival. September 1.”

Snow shoe shuffle at Baw Baw

This event is organised by the Friends of Baw Baw National Park, and will be on August 13.

Continue reading “Snow shoe shuffle at Baw Baw”

Backcountry film festival – Melbourne, May 30

As the Alps gets another blast of pre winter snow, I’m happy to be able to tell you that we have a date for this year’s backcountry film festival program in Melbourne!

The BC festival is the annual mini film festival that covers human powered winter adventure.

The Melbourne show will be held on Tuesday May 30.

Continue reading “Backcountry film festival – Melbourne, May 30”

The Bigfoot Snow Trail

The Bigfoot Snow Trail is described as:

“A unique and spectacular event offering both a SnowMarathon and a SnowSprint event in Victoria’s beautiful Falls Creek Resort. Enjoy the magic of winter as you make your way across the high plains, exploring solo or with friends. This one of a kind event takes runners on an extraordinary journey, visiting historical huts and witnessing some of Australia’s highest peaks under snow. The views will give you that feeling of awe, the feeling that you are on top of the world”.

Continue reading “The Bigfoot Snow Trail”

Is Backcountry the new Black?

In a recent post, I suggested that, in the last few years, I have seen more people getting out into the backcountry for skiing and boarding. I didn’t try to draw any conclusions about out-of-winter visitation, but it certainly seems to me that there is a new generation of backcountry skiers and boarders, and a growing number of snow shoers as well. These people are coming both from traditional resort users and also a more nature-enthusiast demographic as well.

I recently spotted some stats from the US based Outside magazine about avalanche risk, which seemed to underscore the trend that I see out on the slopes:

  • In the US, more people are getting out of resorts ‘than ever before’ (this includes skiers, boarders and snowshoers). The author of the article White Noise in the October 2014 issue of Outside, Christopher Solomon, suggest that ‘a tipping point has been reached, some say, and what was once a fringe subculture is now firmly mainstream’.
  • He puts this growth to a range of factors, including more resorts opening ‘sidecountry’ terrain, more focus on snowsports culture on getting out of the resort, more infrastructure – like guiding businesses – who can take inexperienced people out, and better equipment.
  • He notes that in the US, sales of backcountry gear has grown 85% over the past four winters.
  • He says that men in their 20s are the group that are making up the ‘largest demographic venturing into the backcountry’.

All of this is fairly consistent with what I see out on the slopes. And we have not come close to a peak as yet. I have lost track of the number of skiers, boarders, towies and other mountain enthusiasts I met this winter who have aspirations to get out of resort, but haven’t done it yet. The ‘collective consciousness’ of the snow sports community has shifted and more and more are looking beyond the tows. In light of this, Hotham resorts intention to investigate extending its lifted areas into prime sidecountry terrain seems doubly strange.

Most of the newer backcountry skiers and boarders I meet seem to be focused on getting out into steep terrain. But I also notice another crowd, who are enjoying ‘traditional’ XC skiing or snow shoeing. This group tends to be both younger and older than the ‘steeps freaks’.

The Snowy Mountains Stomp

The inaugural Snowy Mountains Stomp snowshoe race is on at Perisher tomorrow.

Saturday August 23, Perisher Valley, Kosciusko National Park

It will be a day of snowshoe running in the Kosciusko National Park. Two events are planned:

The Stomp: 6km (approx.)
The Longer Stomp: 15km (approx.)

Both events will be on marked courses and mostly on marked trail. Not flat but not over-the-top steep, courses will be designed to be runnable by the fit and walkable by those wanting a challenge up in the hills.

Snow shoe hire will be available.

For more info, and to register, check here.

[Image: courtesy Wilderness Sports]

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