BOOTHY’S BLOG – The real cost of honest reporting

July 30th, 2013

For the worst season ever that looks pretty good to us Image:: Steve Cuff/Thredbo

Mountainwatch | Chris Booth

If the general vibe in Sydney is true, this is the worst season ever. Like, ever.

I’ve been wondering why this is the case. Why are people so glum about the ski season? It’s almost like a default position, it’s as if the ski season can’t be good because it just isn’t possible.

I’ve been getting a fair bit of ‘gotta head to New Zealand if you want the good snow’ too, but I hate to break it to you, despite getting off to a good start, they aren’t doing so flash either.

Philippe Lahey. Photo by Steve Cuff

Yeah, don’t know what all that elevator talk is about? Guess they must really like the office, Haig Burbury Image:: Steve Cuff/Thredbo

So where does this trained pessimism come from? Well, I think it’s a mix of things. Sydney-siders and Melbournians love to talk about the weather; it’s oxygen for those in awkward elevator rides, client lunches, and in conversations with people who we do know, but sort of don’t know. It keeps the world from going silent.

I heard from a guy who was down there the other day and he said there was grass everywhere, unless we get snow soon the season’s pretty much a write-off. This kind of feedback goes through a massive multiplier, as that person tells 10 friends, who tells 10 friends and so on. This pessimism, once released, embarks on an infinite loop; a veritable juggernaut of bad news, often out of date and without basis, that seeks to poison the minds of its mostly unwitting victims. This winter I myself have succumbed to it, only a week ago I was convinced that winter was done for – such was the general mood. Nothing but a visit to the mountains myself to see the conditions first-hand could persuade me otherwise.

Breeze Bohl. Photo by Steve Cuff

Quite confident that is real snow on those rocks there, yep it sure is, Breeze Bohl in Thredbo Image:: Steve Cuff/Thredbo

Is it me or is the rhetoric particularly dim this year? I don’t ever remember people being so down beat. What has changed? What is the source of this bad news?
I think I might have the answer – honest snow reporting.

I blame Mountainwatch. Never has there been such accurate and up to date data presented in such an understandable way. Never before have we experienced the highs and lows of the Australian winter in such graphic detail. For those who check the charts and read The Grasshopper daily you will know what I mean, it’s pretty much a play-by-play analysis of weather events – which we have know come to realise often teeter on the brink of sheer joy and complete disaster. It’s hard to watch.

I also blame the resorts, and in particular their Facebook pages: ‘It’s raining out there! If you’re heading out for some turns better get a raincoat!’ I understand the pressure for complete transparency in new media and the importance of building trust with readers, but I think there’s such thing as being too honest.

Breeze Bohl. Photo by Steve Cuff

He’s probably thinking, better not let this photo get on social media anytime soon! Image:: Steve Cuff/Thredbo

Never have we been so informed – Australia has the most accurate and tailored snow reporting and forecasting anywhere in the world – other countries are in the dark ages compared to us. But what has come out of it is the pervasiveness of bad news and its power to overshadow the good. In the past we were blissfully unaware if conditions weren’t great in the resorts, and I think that partly explains our sentiment that conditions somehow used to be better than they are now.
Bring back the positive snow report I say. Because there’s no such thing as a bad day skiing.

I mean take a look at these photos taken in Thredbo just last week. This was all happening at about the same time as I was hitting my emotional low-point about the ski season and planning to pack my stuff away. I don’t know about any of you, but to me that looks epic. Just goes to show how at odds our perception of conditions can be with how they actually are. I’m already pumped for the weekend.

Philippe Lahey. Photo by Steve Cuff

Philippe Lahey doesn’t look concerned here Image:: Steve Cuff/Thredbo
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