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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow

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.

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

Grasshopper says the 2018 snow season will be ‘Not Bad’

The famed Grasshopper has released their first assessment of what the 2018 season may be like. Obviously its early in the year so hard to make definite predictions, but this first one is fairly hopeful.

It is definitely worth a read but the take home message is that:

‘At this early stage, I estimate that we will have a fairly good start to the season, then a slowish late winter. I’m leaving the door open for a spring dump, possibly even a rerun of the ‘Blizzard of Oz’ but that might be going too far. Maximum snow depths should lie within a range of 180-220 cm when comparing to a long-term average of 195 cm at Spencer’s Creek. The potential for artificial snow making may be hampered during the preseason due to warm and wet conditions, but later in the season snow machines will get their chance to shine.’

The next forecast will be released in early May.

 

Baw Baw resort installs ‘snow factory’

Mt Baw Baw is adding a snow factory to guarantee snow for the 2018 season. It’s a TechnoAlpin Snow Factory 100 R717 and is currently being installed. Mt Buller introduced one last year and Buller Mountain Manager Nick Reeves told SnowAction it was a ‘game changer’, allowing ‘skiing right from the get go of the season’ (although a problematic side issue is that the mountain doesn’t have enough water supplies for snow making, resulting in plans for a destructive new dam).

General Manager of Baw Baw resort, John Fascio, says that the factory will allow their snow season to open earlier than the usual Queen’s Birthday weekend. “We’re targeting June 1st, everything going well”.

It’s not clear whether the factory will be run off renewable or dirty electricity.

[IMAGE: Mt Baw Baw resort]

#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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Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?

The Climate Council has released a report which outlines the likely impacts of climate change on tourism in Australia.

The section on the snow sports industry confirms what we already know: that climate change will have significant impacts on the economics of the sector, with resulting loss of jobs and local businesses. It highlights the fact that despite attempts to broaden activity at ski resorts into the ‘green season’, a large proportion of income is still derived during winter and hence there are limitations to how resorts can buffer against bad winters.

In Victoria, Mt Stirling and Mt Buller have been most affected by shorter ski seasons.

Continue reading “Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?”

‘Ski resorts cling on against climate change’

Mountain Journal often covers developments in the snow industry relating to climate change – both in terms of the expected impacts of global warming on snow and resorts, and positive responses by resorts to reduce their emissions.

As we know, action here in Australia by resorts is sketchy at best and most are still in denial about the reality of the change that is coming.

This recent piece by Bob Berwyn from Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcaster) looks at the limitations of relying on artificial snow making as a buffer against climate change. Looking mostly at Europe, the key message is really just common sense – it will be the lower altitude resorts that will be hit first. That’s directly applicable to the reality that Australian resorts face given our low elevation mountains and moderate latitudes.

Continue reading “‘Ski resorts cling on against climate change’”

New Zealand’s winter is shorter by a month over 100 years

We all know that climate change poses a grave threat to the amount of snow we will be seeing in Australia in coming years. Historically, average snow depths in the Kosciuszko National Park have shown a downward trend over the last 60 years. Another detail in the story of overall decline in snow pack is the ever later arrival of reliable snow (for instance, how often do you get to ski or ride on ‘Opening’ weekend?).

New research from New Zealand/ Aotearoa collaborates the observation that winter is arriving later and leaving earlier.

Continue reading “New Zealand’s winter is shorter by a month over 100 years”

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!

Continue reading “End of the ski season. Happy New Year”

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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