Friday 26 June 2020

Winter Is Here ... and C19

It has been a while since the last post ... I got busy and then the whole SARS-CoV-2 shits-how started. You know all about it. 

Let's start on a good note: We got a beautiful new team member. Little Winter joined the crew in late May and although adventuring is a bit limited, we're still getting enough fresh air to be prepared for the trips ahead. Her older brother is pretty stoked to show her the ropes. 

Now going from Winter (Baby) to Winter (Season), I've restarted the Natural Snow Depth Tracker. Spoiler: So far there's just a bit of dusting and Falls Creek & Hotham have postponed their season opening until the 6.7.2020. In short we haven't missed anything. 
Obviously it's way too early to write this season off and hopefully it will be good enough for some backcountry fun. In doubt ask the Grasshopper because he has the latest intel on the fluffy white.

Victorian Winter Trips

Obviously the virus slashed most trips until now and the spike in community transmission doesn't spark confidence in organised trips going ahead. Currently the numbers are limited to 10 people as they're classified as outdoor gatherings. The Mountain Sports Collective has a series of events in the line-up. The upcoming Uni trips (MUMC & ROC) have a questing mark hanging over them. Carpooling isn't happening and nobody knows whether the trips go ahead at all. Alpine SAR Victoria has announced they're doing their main training event if restrictions allow it. The Alpine Club Melbourne has only two trips lined up but given the circumstances that's not too shabby.

Here we go:
  • ROC Intro to splitboarding - Mt Stirling Fri 24 - Sun 26 Jul  
  • MSC Slay Safe - Falls Creek 30th / 31st July
  • aSAR Alpine Rescue Training - Mt Baw Baw Fri 14 Aug - Sun 16 Aug
  • AVM Winter Camp - Feathertop Sat 15 Aug - Sun 16 Aug
  • MSC Slay Safe - Mount Hotham 27th / 28th August
  • ROC Christmas just in July - Edmonson's Hut, Falls Creek Fri 31 Jul - Sun 2 Aug
  • MUMC Midnight Ascent - Feathertop Fri 28 Aug - Sun 30 Aug
  • AVM Stirling Snow Camp - Mt Stirling Sat 29 Aug - Sun 30 Aug
  • Backcountry Festival - Mount Hotham  Fri 4 Sep - Sun 6 Sep
  • MSC Slay Safe - Main Range 24th / 25th September

Let's keep the fingers crossed 🤞 that the covidiots don't ruin it for us. I won't bother telling you how the access to the resorts works since that might change tomorrow and you're better of checking the right website from the start. Just keep in mind simply rocking up isn't an option this year.

Crowded Backcountry?

Mont Equipment Facebook Ad

With the immanent opening of the resorts and the limitations at the same time, it's not a surprise that the chatter in backcountry forums has picked up. Of course this includes the usual suspects getting stoked but there are also more than usual noobie questions - which isn't bad at all, better ask than being dead. On top of that are so many gear requests that I wasn't the only one wondering if this is above the usual.

If people use SARS-CoV-2 as an opportunity to finally make a move on their backcountry aspirations, it should not come as a surprise. I think this is a good thing since more backcountry lovers means a bigger voice for access and better availability of gear because there's money in it. In that spirit we should reach out a helping virtual hand and be nice to each other. However this also might come with a couple of challenges. 

First of all the meat-works outbreaks around the globe should have taught us that cold & wet indoor spaces are to be avoided. Yes - don't use the huts. I know this is hard for some but it's far better than killing Nanna. Some huts will have a sign limiting the amount of people who can be in there e.g. Bluff Spur Hut is limited to 4 people however the reasonable thing would be not to go in there at all. Also check out the box about Cleve Cole Hut below.

The second thing is that enthusiasm and interest are no substitute for knowledge and experience. The backcountry is littered with hazards, like rocks under the shallow surface, avalanches, hypothermia, carbon-monoxide poisoning, camp fire burns, icy slip'n slides or exposure. Only time will tell whether this is a good combination with beginners heading for the hills. Anecdotally SES Bright, BSAR and Police SAR Victoria expect some call-outs. 
That said if you're one of those beginners, check out events like the Alpine Club's Winter Camp or the MSC Slay/Safe program. They are really good and free for members.

Personally I don't expect this year to be a rescue disaster. Most rescues don't result in a major call-out anyway - as we've seen it on the Razorback last year

Slay Safe ⛄
Cheers Philipp


Parks Victoria have asked the Mount Bogong Club 
to ensure that the rules put in place by the Chief 
Health Officer are respected at the Cleve Cole Hut. 
This means
  • a maximum of eight people inside the hut
  • 1.5 metre social distancing is maintained
  • no cooking or sleeping in the hut 
  • fill out the visitors’ book for contact tracing purposes.
  • supply and use your own hand and surface sanitisers. Sanitise all surfaces after use - this includes toilet door handles.

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