Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Winter. Bring It (Again).

After a mild spell of weather over the past week and a bit, winter is due back today with stormy weather and snow down to 500m in Victoria tomorrow.

The snow base has been affected by the recent warmer weather, drizzle and rain, but without too much loss at higher elevations. We are certainly due for a top up. The recent weather will help consolidate the base, and with good falls expected in the next few days, hopefully we will be set up for a long end to the season, well out into the ‘official’ months of spring.

But, as always, we can never take anything for granted – especially snow. Mountain Watch’s snow forecaster Grasshopper warns ‘It may be some time before we’re talking another big dump’ after this one, so get out there if you can.

Check the BOM site for alpine forecasts or the Mountain Watch website.

[Main image: Pinnacle, on the summit of kunanyi / Mount Wellington, this morning 31/7/14]

Winter. Are we there yet?

It’s almost mid June and we’re still waiting for winter to start!

Forecasts have been all over the place. Recently the Climate Council suggested winter would be warmer than normal. Not good news for snow lovers.

Earlier reports on this site quoted weather guru grasshopper as predicting ‘a mediocre to above average season’.

With the BOM now suggesting the expected El Nino event will not occur until early spring, perhaps things are looking up.

According to the Weekly Times:

Weather forecasters at the Bureau of Meteorology last week dramatically downgraded the fears of El Nino’s drying influence on the weather in southern Australia this year.

While the El Nino pattern could still form in spring, the conditions that originally caused scientists to issue the warning disappeared last month.

Falls Creek is especially brave with this recent prediction:

Like many on the mountain, we’re beginning to get a very good feeling about this Winter. Old hands say it feels a lot like 1991, the end of the last Cold War, when our dear frenemy El Nino looked like a double agent early on before confounding the pundits and pounding us with record snowfalls. The pattern looks encouragingly familiar this year. Fingers crossed.


In praise of the ephemeral

In my teenage years, after I became obsessed with all things alpine, I discovered the work of a number of ‘70s era nature photographers who were working on the micro scale in black and white.

snow3I found a number of large format photo books that gave me an insight into the small places and ephemeral beauty of ice and snow, wind blown sand and leaf fall.

snow5I followed their lead and spent endless hours looking downwards to the tiny worlds under our feet. One July, on a week long ski tour of the Bogong High Plains, I found myself camped near Johnston Hut, with an entire day to enjoy my birthday as I wandered amongst snow drifts and emerging poa tussocks, amongst stately snow gums as high ragged clouds pushed through, with the promise of fresh snow.

As I lent in to hear the small, and glean something from the temporary and incredibly complex tangle of the worlds at ground level, I was struck by a sense of wonder, of specialness, of amazing things happening just beyond our sight. I felt richness stitched into the complexity of thick tangles of grass, of bark thrown on snow, and bare branches against a pale, rich winter sky.

snow11As we wait for the decent falls of a late coming winter, I have been struck by that same old sense of wonder at the beauty of the ephemera of wind blown grass, stone and snow.

The following are some pics from Mt Hotham and nearby hills over Opening weekend 2014.


Little Higginbotham
Little Higginbotham














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