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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow sports

Climate change impacts on resorts – and how they’re taking action to reduce emissions

We all know that climate change poses an existential threat to the snow and alpine environments that we love. While Australia’s lower mountains and modest latitude make it something of a miracle that we even have snow, there is little doubt that already our seasons are getting shorter, with less snow (our snow pack has been in decline since 1957).

But it is disturbing to see the impacts that are happening elsewhere, in countries at higher latitudes and with higher peaks. This recent story sums up some of what’s happening in North America, and how some resorts are responding.

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The economic impacts of climate change on winter sports

Protect Our Winters has released an update of it’s report ‘the economic contributions of winter sports in a changing climate’. It is yet another reminder about the economic benefits of the snow industry, both in local economies and at the national level, and the threat posed by climate change to this economic activity.

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Backcountry Film Festival in Sydney

The 2018 Sydney screening of the Backcountry Film Festival will happen on saturday April 21.

For the third year, the Sydney screening will be hosted by the NSW Nordic Ski Club.

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#ClimateWhiteout: climate change and the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Climate and winter sports advocacy groups have been using social media to highlight the expected impacts of global warming on future Winter Olympic sites.

This is not a new story, but research that shows that climate change is likely to make nine former Winter Olympics sites too warm to host the Games again has been circulating using the hashtag #ClimateWhiteout.

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Park City has pledged to reduce it’s carbon footprint to zero by 2032

Climate change is bearing down on us. The threat posed to people, economies and natural ecosystems is of a level only surpassed by the risk of nuclear war. For those of us who love mountains and winter, the threat is obvious enough: shorter, more erratic snow seasons.

While here in Australia we face a dwindling snow pack, it’s the same story in ranges around the world. For instance, in the Northern Cascades National Park, which contains 1/3 of the glaciers in the Lower 48 states of the USA, the glaciers have lost a half of their mass over the past century. Since 1955, the mountains of the western ranges of the USA have lost 23% of snowpack.

This is having a direct impact on local economies. Low snow seasons in the western USA between 2000 and 2010 cost the ski industry more than US$1B in lost revenue.

Many resorts and individual players in the snow industry have been stepping up and joining the fight against climate change. Park City in Utah is one of the latest.

Continue reading “Park City has pledged to reduce it’s carbon footprint to zero by 2032”

Australia’s southern most ski field

The Mt Mawson ski field in the Mt Field National Park is the southern most ski area in Australia. It’s a remarkable place, and while it’s of a low elevation, with very limited vertical terrain, and is subject to the notoriously fickle snow conditions to be found in Tasmania, it is a magical spot. It has several rope tows, and is a Club ski field composed of seven lodges, with no public accommodation. Its also a fairly solid 30 to 45 minute walk up the mountain to get to the ski field.

But like the surrounding ranges within the Mt Field national park, when its in condition its truly fantastic.

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Canadian supreme court gives the green light to ski resort on sacred indigenous land

In devastating news for anyone concerned about the rights of indigenous people and protection of major wild areas, the Jumbo Glacier Resort has been given the green light by the Canadian supreme court.

The Jumbo Valley, located deep in the wilds of British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains, has long been revered for its spiritual significance and beauty. To the Ktunaxa Nation, it is known as Qat’muk, home of the grizzly bear spirit.

For decades, First Nations, conservationists, backcountry skiers and snowboarders have fought a proposed large-scale ski resort deep in the Jumbo valley. After 24 years of opposition, the campaign against the resort has been dealt a major blow with this court ruling.

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End of the ski season. Happy New Year

I don’t know about you, but I’m at my best in mid winter. My brain works better, I feel more cheerful, I want to be out amongst it. I crave altitude, snow, rock, ice, and being above tree line.

I always get a bit sad at the end of winter. One way to deal with the sadness is to embrace it, so I try to make sure I’m at Hotham for closing weekend. There’s something so final about last day of the season. As services wind down, the lifts stop spinning, the bus does its last lap of the village, and Dinner Plain and Hotham empty out, I feel like winter is finally over. I’m ready to move on into the next season. Traditional New Years Eve happens in the middle of summer, just after Christmas madness, with hot weather stretching out for months on either side. I find it hard to feel like the year is over as the land just feels the same, caught in the summer doldrums. Whereas end of winter is a physical event. For me, the day after snow season ends is New Years Day, it marks a clear end of one part of the year, and I feel like I can step fully into spring.

Happy New Year, everyone. Only 234 sleeps til winter!

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Winter 2017. (Almost) done.

Wow. What a winter. Some forecasters were predicting a ‘slightly better than average’ season, and opening weekend saw skiable snow in the resorts, but then things slowed down for several weeks until we started to get serious snowfalls in July. We had four epic storm fronts during the season, variously called The Blizard of Oz, Snowaggedon 2.0, etc, with the best snowpack in September for 17 years. Most resorts extended their season a week until October 8, and there is still many weeks’ worth of skiing in many parts of the backcountry.

As the season winds down, like most snow addicts I’m already thinking about next year. Personally I had an awesome winter, with a highlight being a road trip from the Snowies to Mt Hotham. But I did a lot of ‘weekend warrior’ drives and now that the snow frenzy is dissipating, I feel like I’ve woken up after a big bender with a hangover and a slight sense of guilt…

Continue reading “Winter 2017. (Almost) done.”

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