Now that we know that ski resorts will be open at least for some of the winter we can really get on with our planning. In NSW an announcement on the ski season is expected this week, and the season will start in VIC from June 22. I hope this helps with your planning for trips and events. Here are some events that I am aware of. Please feel free to send in details on others.
Yes, many of us are getting a bit stir crazy after weeks at home.
And every snow addict in the country is frothing to get up to the mountains after that incredible dump of powder.
We’re all seeing those videos and pics of our mates getting first tracks.
It’s hard to stay the course and stay at home.
But our actions now will have a real impact on government decisions about whether to allow resorts to open this winter.
This current burst of cold has certainly made the conversation about ski season more real. Many of us are expecting an announcement – at least in Victoria – by mid May (the 11th is the date that the Victorian government will announce what next for the society wide lock down). The NSW police commissioner has said the state’s restrictions on outdoor movements and public gatherings would remain in force for at least 90 days, but that he was hopeful of being able to relax them beyond that date: 29 June.
For business operators, international instructors, local staff, and all snow lovers the wait is agonising.
I recently posted a poll on twitter, asking what people thought would happen this winter: a full ski season. Late start. Or no season at all – with or without the option of backcountry skiing. It was a small group that responded, but around 2 thirds felt there would be no season.
Yes, Australia does have erratic winters.
Yes, the forecast was suggesting that the season would start late and be mediocre to average.
And yes, we just had two awesome winters, so we would have been very lucky to have three in a row.
But the first month of winter 2019 has been the sort of winter you would expect under climate change scenarios.
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.
Auden Schendler is well known to many skiers and riders as being a key figure in snow industry efforts to move towards sustainability. He is the Vice President of Sustainability at the Aspen Snowmass resort in Colorado.
Just before the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C report was released, Auden co-authored an opinion piece in the New York Times with Andrew P. Jones. Given Auden’s pivotal role in the snow community, I thought it was worth sharing some excerts from it here which underscore the political challenge we face if we are serious about resolving the ‘climate problem’. The full article is available here.
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.
The winter of 2018 was awesome. But the fact is that climate change poses an existential threat to the winters we love. A summer of crazy fires across the alps and Tasmania reminds us of what the future holds – higher temperatures, longer and more extreme fire seasons and less rain.
Yet again, climate scientists have warned that we are running out of time to cut greenhouse emissions. Yet the federal government has dropped the ball on climate action (and our carbon emissions continue to soar), so we need everyone to put their shoulder to the wheel and remind them that the community wants to see meaningful action on climate change. Please send a message to the PM, Scott Morrison, that our winter landscapes are at threat, and that we expect his government to act.
The outdoor community and the outdoor industry have enormous political power. But only if we choose to flex our muscles.
Here’s two really simple ways you can get climate change on the radar of the PM:
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.