Mountain Sports Collective (MSC) is reporting a large avalanche on the Etheridge Ridge in the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains and other avalanche activity in the area, including Leatherbarrell Creek. A person was caught in the main slide and partially buried, but was uninjured. This highlights the need to be very mindful of conditions in the backcountry at present.
IT’S A PARK, NOT A PADDOCK!
On Thursday August 22 the NSW Parliament will debate the impacts of feral horses on Kosciuszko National Park.
More than 12,000 people signed the petition calling for this debate and it’s now going to happen!
The Parliament will debate repealing the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act and repairing the damage caused by hard-hooved animals. Reclaim Kosci is asking people to join them on the day to show support for this parliamentary debate.
It’s being billed as the best single snow event of the winter. Regardless of the title or hype, its certainly a fantastic dump across all the mountains of the mainland and Tasmania.
But it has also led to serious avalanche potential. Here is a summary of the current (AUG 9) Mountain Sports Collective backcountry conditions bulletin.
Lets Split is a volunteer based initiative, designed to expand and strengthen the Australian Splitboard community. We are a group of experienced SplitBoarders, who invite others to join us touring in the backcountry – hoping that the important skills needed for safe backcountry travel can pass into the younger generation of riders who are perhaps less experienced than us.
Here is a report from Lets Split founder Amine Yasmine on their recent trip to Dead Horse Gap in the Snowy Mountains.
Many people know the story of the Pine beetle which has been devastating huge areas of forest across North America because of climate change.
In brief, the mountain pine beetle’s ability to survive and multiply rapidly is highly sensitive to temperature and precipitation. Warmer average temperatures allow pine beetles to complete their life cycle in just one year instead of two. Rising minimum temperatures in the Colorado Rockies have allowed more beetles to survive the winter and from 2009 to 2010, mountain pine beetle activity increased more than 10-fold, infesting 200,000 acres (80,000 hectares) on the Front Range, and killing off millions of hectares of trees in North America.
There is a similar scenario emerging in Australia’s mountain forests, although it is much less known.
Snow gums are experiencing dieback in Kosciuszko National Park, largely because of the impacts of the native longicorn (or ‘longhorn’) beetle. These beetles prefer to lay their eggs on moisture-stressed trees and, in warmer weather, the longicorn beetle can hatch and grow up to 75% faster.
According to work published in the Resort Roundup winter 2019 edition (produced by the NSW government), ‘reduced snowfall, high summer temperatures such as January 2019 where temperatures at Thredbo top station were 4.4oC above average, and a reduction in autumn rainfall mean that snow gums are under much greater moisture stress than in the past.’ This means that larger beetle populations are causing more frequent dieback of some snow gum trees.
So far, impacts seem to be limited to areas in the Snowy Mountains among two distinct subspecies of snow gum – in the Guthega and Perisher areas and parts of Thredbo. The main species affected is Eucalyptus niphophila. Additionally, the population of Weeping snow gum Eucalyptus lacrimans in the Long Plain area appears to be significantly impacted by longicorn beetle. At this point it does not seem that the infestation is affecting the widespread E. pauciflora subsp. pauciflora.
Apart from the visual and ecological impacts of losing these important trees, increased dieback will lead to an increase in fire risk in alpine resorts and other areas within Kosciuszko National Park. With increasing climate change, it is expected that the longhorn beetle will continue to increase in numbers and therefore its associated impacts on snow gums will also become more extensive.
This is yet another compelling reason for us to be taking serious action to respond to climate change!
NSW Nordic Ski Club and Reclaim Kosci are co-hosting a screening of “Underfrog” on Wednesday July 24. The night will be used to increase raise awareness of the feral horse issue in the Snowy Mountains and raise funds for Reclaim Kosci to continue their work. Everyone is welcome. Doors open at 7:00pm for a 7:30pm start. Donations are optional. The film is suitable for all ages.
Mountain Sports Collective will be running a series of FREE Introduction to Advanced Backcountry sessions this season. These events are for participants who are eager to step beyond the patrol lines and learn the skills required to pursue extended ski touring (both skiing and split boarding). This is nominally everything you need to know to travel over a variety of alpine terrain (Skiing / Skinning and ALPINE Climbing) and overnight (the eDVANCED bit).
The Reclaim Kosci group have been running a fantastic campaign to gain protection of the Snowy Mountains through securing removal of the large numbers of wild horses in the Kosciusko national park.
This week they will present a petition to NSW parliament calling for the Repeal the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act.
Alpine Access Australia started as a guiding company and now provides a range of snow safety programs and avalanche training. Many in the backcountry will know Dave and Pieta Herring and instructor Luka Panik. AAA operate both in the Snowy Mountains and a growing number of mountain areas in Victoria.
AAA are the avalanche safety course providers at this year’s VIC backcountry festival (September 8 and 9) and will be offering courses in the Hotham area before, during and after the festival.