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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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snow

Snow conditions, August 22

With significant recent avalanche activity, a crusty layer in many places, and a consolidating snow pack it is still wise to display caution in the backcountry.

Mountain Sports Collective notes that in north east Victoria, there is a ‘moderate wind slab hazard on aspects lee to the west. Hazard increasing with continued windloading over the next 48hrs’.

And on the Main Range in NSW, MSC says:Ongoing persistent weak layer in the snowpack prevails across the range above 1800m with a moderate hazard rating associated. Whilst deep and increasingly unlikely to trigger the consequence is staggering by local standards.’

 

How has Tasmania’s climate changed?

Climate change is already affecting the landscape of Tasmania through more intense fire seasons. This threatens species like the Pencil Pine. In the last few decades, there has been an increase in fires caused by dry lightning strikes, and this has been impacting on vegetation types that are not fire adapted.

A recent review of how much climate change has already impacted on Tasmania highlights how broad these effects are on the landscape.

Erin Cooper, writing for the ABC, identified the following impacts that are being felt in mountain areas.

Continue reading “How has Tasmania’s climate changed?”

Victoria’s best chance to lead on climate action

Climate change poses an existential threat to the mountains and winter environment that we love and rely on. In Australia, winter snow is already in decline, and has been since 1957.

And climate scientists keep warning us that we are running out of time to cut greenhouse emissions and head off future climate impacts. With the Coalition being re-elected, Australia now has no leadership on climate change (and our carbon emissions continue to soar), so we need everyone to put their shoulder to the wheel.

With the failure of the federal government to act, there is a huge need for the states to continue their work on energy policy. In the ACT, the Government has legislated a target of sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2020. States around the world, from California to Colorado to New York are also showing leadership and setting deep emission reduction targets and high renewable energy targets.

And now we have a fantastic opportunity to see Victoria take the step towards transforming its energy system and economy. We have just four weeks to send in submissions to the Victorian government on the state’s first interim Emissions Reduction Targets. The state government must announce targets for 2025 and 2030 by March next year. Targets which are based on climate science, rather than what is deemed ‘politically expedient’, will drive down emissions and start the transition from coal to renewables.

Continue reading “Victoria’s best chance to lead on climate action”

Winter arrives early!

Time for a road trip!

The snow currently hitting the Alps and Tasmania means an early skiing/ riding season at some resorts.

As a result of spectacular snow falls (Hotham is already reporting 65 cm!), a number of resorts are opening early, including:

Perisher, from Friday May 31 (although Perisher Skitube and Shuttle Service between Perisher and Smiggin Holes will not run until June Long Weekend).

Mt Buller (lifts starting June 2, with their new chairlift opening as well).

Mt Buller and Mt Stirling will both officially open on 1 June, offering half price resort entry from Saturday until the Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Most others are opening over the traditional Queens birthday weekend (June 8 – 10).

And, of course, there is a good cover in the backcountry across higher mountain areas – obviously take care out there as the base will not have consolidated as yet.

It’s almost New Year

Last weekend at Mt Hotham I was chatting with a friend about the end of the season. She said she was starting to grieve for the end of another year. I was feeling exactly the same. I feel most alive in the alpine, especially the alpine when it’s snow covered, and for me, the spring melt marks the end of the year.

Continue reading “It’s almost New Year”

The winter that keeps giving …

With many areas now pushing beyond 200 cm of snowpack (and Mt Buller calling it the best snow since 2004), the rest of August and early September is looking spectacular. Although I’m hearing a few nay sayers suggesting that we have seen the best of winter 2018, the famed Grasshopper is a little more upbeat: ‘We are now midway through the southern hemisphere season with the best part still to come.

However, The Grasshopper does also suggest that it will taper off after the next band of fronts: ‘Both climate drivers and models aren’t working in our favour for epic snowfalls during the second half of the season. However, snowfalls over the next week or two will provide ample fresh powder’.

But there is little doubt that winter 2018 has been amazing, especially on top of 2017 – which had been billed as ‘the best since 2000’.

Hopefully we will still be wandering around in the backcountry, finding turns, long after the resorts have closed.

In the meantime, here’s some backcountry style events you may want to get along to.

Incoming (again)

The snow looks great for the next few days. Lower avalanche risk (remember to check the Mountain Sports Collective website before heading out) and a good freshen up is expected, so the weekend should be awesome.

The Mountainwatch 7 day forecast is for 54 cm at Perisher, 46cm at Hotham and 45 cm at Mt Stirling. Yes, forecasts at 7 days are very unreliable and the expected snowfall tends to trail off as you get closer to the actual day. But it does look healthy. Stay safe and enjoy.

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.

 

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