Apart from that beautiful dump of snow across the Alps, autumn has been warm and dry so far. But winter is just over the horizon, and it’s time to plan trips and lock in dates. Famed snow forecaster, The Grasshopper, says “I am going to forecast a slightly worse than average season this year based on the initial climate model forecasts which hint at a developing El Nino going hand in hand with a positive IOD event”. But s/he goes on to say “It’s still definitely going to be worth getting the season pass, as we are bound to get our fair share of epic days. So don’t get too dis heartened”.
Here’s a short list of some of the backcountry-related snow events that I’m aware of.
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.
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 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.
I 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.
I 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.
As 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.