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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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sustainable business

Vail aims to become a ‘sustainable tourism destination’

Mountain Journal recently reported that the famous Colorado resort of Vail had announced its intention to ‘commit to zero net emissions (partly through use of renewable energy to run its operations), zero waste to landfill and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat by the year 2030’.

Vail is a town built around ski field development. While only about 5,500 people live there (supported by a large ‘down valley’ community in towns like Avon and Edwards who must commute to work) it hosts as many as 2.8 million visitors a year.

Aspen, located to the south west, is probably better known for its sustainability efforts, but Vail’s commitment is ambitious. The recent announcement on energy and waste came from Vail Resorts Inc, the company that runs the resort operations. There is also a commitment from the Town of Vail, based in the valley below the resort, to become North Americas first sustainable tourist destination certified through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

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Vail commits to zero net emissions by 2030

Unless we act decisively now, climate change poses an existential threat to life as we know it. For people who love the outdoors or whose livelihood relies on good snowfall or a healthy environment – the skiing and outdoor industries – there is an added incentive to be engaged and active.

No person, business or sector can solve the problem on their own, but that’s kind of the point: we need all hands of deck to deal decisively with this looming threat.

It’s good to remember that many in the community are taking action. Around the world there is a growing willingness to be actively involved in responding to climate change – through mitigation (reducing the production of greenhouse gases), supporting behaviour change, engaging in advocacy, and developing cleaner production methods.

Here are two good news stories from the USA.

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Snow Without Skiing? A New Alpine Experience.

This is an interesting idea: an alpine experience for people who want to visit the mountains in winter but don’t want to ski or ride. A new business venture, Alpine Nature Experience, is setting up operations at Wire Plain at Mount Hotham this winter.

It’s driven by Jean-Francois Rupp, who grew up in the French Alps.

His aim is to help visitors ‘truly immerse themselves in the remote, pristine Australian alpine environment’.

“I’ve realised that a lot of people don’t go to the snow because they don’t like to ski, so I wanted people to come up to the snow and discover how good it is without having to do that,” Jean-Francois said. “It’s the same as going to the beach, where you don’t have to surf to enjoy being by the ocean, it’s a similar idea and an alternative offer to skiing.”

The Alpine Nature Experience at Mount Hotham starts with an evening snowshoe walk through the majestic snow gums, weaving its way to a hidden ‘eco-village’ and central tipi with a fireplace. Once a the tipi, Jean-Francois will share French cooking tips and guests will preparing a French cheese fondue.

You can sign up for emails or book one of the trips here.

This looks like a good, low impact way to expand what’s on offer within land designated as being part of the alpine resort. Good luck with the venture, hope it goes well, Jean-Francois.

Lamont magazine

Any skier, rider or MTB enthusiast who has travelled in North America will know that there is a wealth of mountain themed magazines and media on that continent. Journals that celebrate the people and culture of mountain towns, the outdoor life, and the landscapes that make it all possible. Australia, with a much smaller population and a lot fewer mountain towns, has traditionally been a bit sparse when it comes to this type of media.

So, it’s a real delight to see a new magazine which is seeking to explore and celebrate the ‘mountains and the people whose lives and loves are in them’.

Lamont magazine is the brainchild of Jindabyne-based photographer Mandy Lamont, and describes itself as a ‘mountain lifestyle magazine’. Having worked hard to make her life in the high country sustainable through pursing a range of ventures, she is now sharing her love of the mountains with others through this magazine.

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Bright Brewery goes solar

Bright Brewery will be known by anyone who has driven through the town of the same name. It has recently launched its solar PV system. Brewery founder and owner Scott Brandon says “the environment is one of the biggest drivers of Bright’s economy, drawing many visitors here across the seasons for the spectacular scenery and alpine adventures, so it is imperative for us to do our part in sustaining it.”

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Ski resorts and climate change

As climate change bears down on us, winters become ever more erratic. This impacts on the economic viability of ski resorts and the jobs of people who rely on them.  In their quest to remain commercially viable, most ski resorts are adopting the double edged strategy of claiming a space in the ‘green season’ tourism market while also investing in snow making technology. A small number are also showing leadership in terms of grappling with the actual problem of climate change. Sadly, no Australian resorts are in this category.

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Demand up for native Australian food mountain pepper

Anyone who has walked in the High Country will be able to relate to this one. Mountain Pepper is a common shrub that has a strong and spicy taste. Its about some farmers in Gippsland who have started to cultivate Mountain Pepper to sell at markets.

Mountain Pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) is found in cool wet habits from sea level to alpine areas in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. It grows in mountain gullies and mountainous areas

The story below comes from the ABC by journalist Laura Poole.

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‘Unite for POW in Paris’

Mountain Journal has often covered the various sustainability initiatives by ski resorts and the snow/ outdoor industries.

It has also noted the fact there here in Australia, the resorts and industry have either given up all pretense of even caring about climate change or simply have never done anything on the issue. In theory most resorts at least support the ideas behind the ‘Keep Winter Cool‘ initiative, but when was the last time you saw any of them promote climate change or sustainability measures in their materials?

It will be interesting to see if the sale of Perisher Resort in NSW to Vail Resorts will have any impact on the local industry. Vail has at least signed on to some initiatives like “Target 10” aiming for a 10% reduction in energy use.

As we get closer to the climate negotiations which will happen in Paris in late November, the stakes keep getting higher. With the current global agreement (the Kyoto Protocol) due to expire shortly, it is essential that world leaders agree on the framework for the agreement which will replace it.

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Dumu Balcony Cafe Pozible campaign

Mountain Journal has previously posted a review of the Dumu Balcony Cafe in Bright. Dumu is a social enterprise which trains young indigenous people in hospitality.

They have just launched a Pozible campaign to raise funds for their project.

You can see their campaign video here.

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