Mountainwatch |Mountain Safety Collective
We’re only a week away from the Victorian Backcountry Festival in Hotham, the backcountry community’s biggest event each year. Full program details and registration are available on the website at https://backcountryfestival.com.au
Last weekend’s storm delivered a small but essential top up of snow for the backcountry. Starting last Friday and extending into Saturday, this delivered 20cm+ of moist powder to the upper slopes in NSW with smaller volumes in Victoria. As forecast by MSC, the new snow created instability in NSW through last weekend, with several larger avalanches reported due to the icy surface layer it fell on.
Once the sun returned on Sunday and the new snow stabilised, there was fantastic touring to be had early week before a small amount of rain on Wednesday. Temperatures have stayed consistently mild, meaning surface conditions on sunny slopes have stayed soft for fun turns through the day.
As we move into this weekend, warm sunny days with light winds are forecast for Friday and Saturday before some potential for light snow on upper slopes on Sunday, so it’s a great opportunity to get out there.
Expect spring-like conditions with the potential for icy crust in the morning that softens throughout the day. It’s still important to carry crampons if skiing shaded slopes that might stay firm – particularly on steeper slopes. Conversely, you can expect the snow to get mushier on sunny slopes as the day progresses. Plan your day to ride slopes when they have softened but not deteriorated to the point of being mushy and unsupportive. Once it gets to this stage, the upper snowpack can become unstable.
Slopes below 1800m have fared less well from the recent rain, so be prepared for bushwalking and vegetation navigation on lower approaches and exposed ridges. If we avoid a heavy rain event, there’ll still be plenty of turns in the backcountry for a few more weeks to come.
As always, pay close attention to any weather warnings and always fill out your trip intention forms for NSW or VIC. If you’re keen for some transceiver training, Mountain Safety Collective have set up Avalanche Training Centres at Hotham and a new one at Thredbo.
For more information on staying safe in the backcountry, visit Mountain Safety Collective.