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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow

Avalanche Safety Training 2 Day & 4 Day Courses

Avalanche Training Australia in conjunction with Avalanche NZ is proud to offer accredited 2-day Avalanche Awareness and 4-day Backcountry Avalanche Avoidance courses during the 2018 Australian winter.

These will be held out of Falls Creek in north eastern Victoria.

Continue reading “Avalanche Safety Training 2 Day & 4 Day Courses”

Incoming

What a great start to winter 2018! Those good early falls in May disappeared, but then we got the best snow pack for June in 17 years! And now we have another big system bearing down on us.

As always, forecasts vary, and this far out, they may be more enthusiastic than the reality we will see over the weekend. Let’s hope this system does deliver the goods.

Here’s a quick check at what some of the key snow websites are saying.

If you’re heading out after the storm, be aware that there may be some avalanche risk as the fresh settles on a sun affected layer. Check the Mountain Sports Collective backcountry advisory before you get on the trail.

This one is from MountainWatch.

This is from Snow watch.

This one comes from Jane Bunn:

Big snow system, mainly Saturday, snow up high from Friday. 

A high is moving to the east and cold fronts are approaching. This will make it windy.

We stay dry through to the end of Wednesday, but one of these fronts may produce rain on Thursday (up to 5mm). It is too warm for snow.

A front breaks through on Friday. It starts warm with rain for all resorts, but there is enough cold air for it to snow to 1600 metres at times. Up to 25 mm of precipitation – with 5 to 20 cm of that falling as snow up high.

A stronger front pushes through on Saturday, and this is all cold. Snow falls down to 900 metres with 15 to 30 cm of snow.

So, this brings 20 to 50 cm of snow all up. 

The chance of snow showers on Sunday, the slight chance of snow showers early next week, until the high moves back in.

 

The MSC backcountry advisory service is Go

The Mountain Sports Collective backcountry advisory service is operating again this winter.

Based on three key regions – Kosciusko national park in NSW, north east VIC and the central Victorian Alps – each advisory is updated as conditions change. They cover snow and weather conditions. If you’re heading out of resort and into the higher mountains its worth checking the conditions before you go.

You can find the advisory here.

Please consider becoming a member. This helps us to run the area reports.

Here it comes

After a fairly ordinary opening weekend, are we finally getting to the real part of winter?

It seems to depend who you talk to but the general answer is YES.

These are the seven day forecasts for Australia from MountainWatch.

This is the one from SnowWatch. Obviously, longer term models become less reliable, with a greater chance of the cold front being shunted off by a blocking High system or weakening, etc. We’ve all had our hearts broken many times by seeing a 15 day forecast that looks mind blowing slowly dissolve into drizzle and a bit of cloud, so do ‘adjust your set’ to prepare yourself for disappointment. But the short term forecast looks great.

The Jane Bunn forecast (via ski.com.au) looks pretty spectacular.

A series of cold fronts is passing through, driven by a complex area of low pressure that slowly moves past, just south of Australia.  

The heavier snow coincides with the colder air. Its still a little warm today (Wednesday) and Thursday, then we are proper cold from Friday. Snow down to 900 metres on Friday and Saturday, lowering to 600 metres for Saturday night and early Sunday.

Northern resorts see the most from this system as the airflow is northwesterly for much of the time. Baw Baw picks up what is left on Monday into Tuesday. 

The high moves in on Tuesday, bringing a return to sunshine.

We’re looking at 40 to 95 cm of snow for northern resorts.

Lets hope this is correct!

Climate change will make snow a ‘premium product’ like ‘fine wine’

Climate change poses an existential threat to the ski industry in Australia. A recent report commissioned by the Victorian government suggests that the end of natural snow could be as close as a couple of decades.

As noted by Adam Carey in The Age, without serious action to tackle climate change, ‘the likeliest outcome is that Victoria’s snow resorts will gradually close, until just one or two remain in business by mid-century, offering an increasingly rarefied experience’.

You would think that people who earn their living from snow would be paying attention to what is happening and perhaps even playing their part to reduce emissions.

Apparently not.

Continue reading “Climate change will make snow a ‘premium product’ like ‘fine wine’”

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.

Continue reading “#ClimateWhiteout: climate change and the Winter Olympics”

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