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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Thredbo

Auden Schendler on climate change – skiers can make a difference

After a decade of inaction, the Australian snow industry is finally starting to engage meaningfully on the issue of climate change. With Perisher having been bought by the Vail Resorts group, it has been swept along in that companies efforts to achieve carbon neutrality for it’s operations by 2030. And Thredbo recently became the first Australian resort to formally join Protect Our Winters (POW) the activist group seeking to mobilise the snow sports community.

There is, of course, still plenty of room to move. Many resorts, like Mt Hotham, are still effectively in denial about climate change, opting for the ‘we’ll just invest more in snow making capacity’ option. But as the recent visit by POW founder Jeremy Jones showed, there is a significant interest in the snow community about climate change.

We are starting to see some great leadership from prominent skiers and riders like Nat Segal, who is a vocal advocate for climate action. The interview below comes from Powder magazine and features a conversation with Auden Schendler of the Aspen resort. Auden is often seen as a key global spokesperson on climate because of his work at putting Aspen on a sustainable footing. This reflection has some significant things to say about what is and what isn’t possible in the resorts and what is required if we are to take effective action to limit climate change.

Two salient points that stand out for me from this interview are:

“We have to acknowledge or understand as a starting point that to be sustainable has got to mean solving climate change.

On climate, if you’re not at risk politically or from public criticism, and if you don’t feel uncomfortable, if it doesn’t hurt, you’re probably not doing enough on climate”.

The take home message from Auden is that making your operations greener is not an end point. It’s part of the pathway to solving climate change. This is going to involve sustained and public advocacy for the adoption of policies which will tackle climate change in a meaningful way – ie, engagement in good old fashioned politics. As he eloquently puts it, it means advocating for ‘systemic change’.

He reminds us that the current option adopted by most resorts is simply not going to work:

‘You can’t adapt to where we’re headed … we’re headed toward four degrees Celsius’.

Continue reading “Auden Schendler on climate change – skiers can make a difference”

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The ‘Good Vibes’ snowboard camp – getting at risk youth to the snow

This is a great initiative: getting at risk young people up to the snow to try snowboarding.

“Every year The Good Vibes Foundation works together with Youth Off The Streets to take 20 kids aged 14-16 years old snowboarding for the 1st time!!.

We spend 2 full days on snow at Thredbo where the kids have lessons and learn to snowboard with instructors and a group of amazing volunteers.

To keep this amazing program running we need to raise money to help pay for costs such as, petrol, accommodation and food”.

You can donate here.

Whiteroom offers Avalanche courses in Australia

With more and more Australian skiers and riders getting into the backcountry, both here and overseas, there is an ever growing awareness about the need to have good skills to stay safe in unmanaged terrain. This includes the ability to assess and avoid avalanche risk, and to carry out rescues.

There are now a number of businesses running avalanche courses, including the Jindabyne-based Main Range Backcountry and a new operator at Mt Buller called Mountain Safe. (See below for details).

There are also international instructors coming out here to offer courses. This includes Whiteroom, who are a company that offers guided ski and snowboard tours, ski and snowboard holidays, mountain guiding, instructional tours, and group travel in Japan, New Zealand and North America.

This comes from Ronan Maguire, who is running the Whiteroom courses in Australia. Ronan has done eleven seasons at Mt Hutt as well several in America, Canada and Japan.

Continue reading “Whiteroom offers Avalanche courses in Australia”

Managing development in the Kosciuszko alpine resorts

If you’re interested in the future of the alpine resorts in the NSW mountains and how they interact with the surrounding environment, you currently have an opportunity to comment on the management plan.

The Parks Service says:

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is looking at better ways to measure and regulate the environmental carrying capacity of alpine resorts in Kosciuszko National Park. Currently, carrying capacity is addressed using ‘bed limits’.

Continue reading “Managing development in the Kosciuszko alpine resorts”

‘Wanderlust’ festival, Thredbo

Wanderlust events are gatherings that bring together yoga and meditation, music, artists, and chefs (with a focus on local and sustainable foods) for a ‘transformational retreat’ in a beautiful location. It will also feature a range of outdoor activities like riding, running and hikes. Generally there is a Speakeasy – a series of lectures on a range of topics. Xavier Rudd is preforming on February 20.

There will be a Wanderlust event at Thredbo, described as being ‘a 4-day celebration of mindful living’ from 18 – 21 February.

For further details on the program and cost, check here.

2015 Thredbo Cannonball MTB Festival –  Dec 4th – 6th

The Cannonball Festival is back for 2015. Hosted at Thredbo ski village, the organisers say it “promises dirt, vert and freewheeling action as some of the world’s best mountain bike riders mix it with rising stars and amateur enthusiasts to take home their share of the massive $45,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs”.

“Thredbo is Australia’s home of Gravity Mountain biking, and the five events across three days showcase the diversity of the terrain on offer in the Snowy Mountains. The line-up of events includes the side by side Sram Dual Compressor, RockShox Pump Track Challenge on Thredbo’s new look pump track, the ODI Whip Wars Big Air, Maxxis Flow Motion Cup and the jewel in the crown, the Toyota Australian Open Downhill”.

Full details can be found here.

‘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.

Continue reading “‘Unite for POW in Paris’”

Thredbo carbon offset scheme

The snow season may be pretty much over, but it’s worth mentioning this initiative to reduce greenhouse emissions related to travel to Thredbo resort. It’s also heartening to see Thredbo offsetting emissions from some of its operations, including snow groomers, snow mobiles, buses and work trucks. This came via Adventure Pro.

Continue reading “Thredbo carbon offset scheme”

‘Flow Nation in Thredbo’.

Image: Damian Breach / Flow
Image: Damian Breach / Flow

This is a nice 5 minute video from Flow magazine about riding in the Thredbo area which is available here.

Flow is a great, homegrown Australian MTB magazine, available in newsagents. More info here.

Flow says:

“Thredbo has held a very special place in Australian mountain bike folklore for over two decades now. Lord knows how many of our most famous downhillers cut their teeth on the legendary Cannonball Run downhill, or how many National Round after-parties have run wild in the village…

But despite its strong history, over the past ten years it had started to become clear that Thredbo’s lustre was fading a little; other alpine resorts were investing heavily in mountain biking and Thredbo was losing ground. Simply having ‘the hill’ was no longer enough. Thankfully, rather than allowing the mountain biking program to slip metaphorically downhill, Thredbo too have launched a program of rejuvenating the mountain bike side of their operations. Since our first trip to Thredbo over 15 years ago, we’ve held this place in high esteem, and so we had to come see for ourselves just what changes were underway at Thredders”.

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