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A word on safety

photographer @dylanrobinson

skiers @drew_jolowicz and Simon Murray from @mountain_safety_collective

ITS WORTH TO NOTE a lot of planning goes into a successful and safe backcountry trip. One of the key aspects that comes into play especially in spring is assessing snow surface conditions and deciding on which aspects are ready to ski and when.

MOUNTAIN SAFETY COLLECTIVE have put a lot of time and research into evaluating this process and we utilise this knowledge extensively to help us make better terrain clothing.

'FOUR FINGERS'. This approach allows a better estimate of when a slope is ready to ski by measuring snow temperature in 30 minute intervals from dawn and using this data to project a time estimate. Aspect and elevation are key considerations in this process. When the surface accepts the push of a flat gloved hand beyond the second knuckle it will likely respond well to a ski/board edge, making ski touring more manageable and holds enough structure to be able to self-arrest a fall with poles or an ice-axe.

LIGHT AND SHADE. Avoid the shade and follow the sun for better spring turns. Snow temperature can dramatically vary depending on whether it's a solar or shaded aspect. Within the same run the surface can go from soft and forgiving under the sun's rays to firm and frozen just meters away in the shade.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on this process and up to date forecasts and advisories for the Australian Backcountry, jump over to mountainsafetycollective.org for all the latest backcountry condition information from June through October.

SO, with the Australian snow season coming to a close for another year it seems like the perfect time to reflect upon a season that was. A season that produced a roller coaster of emotions and not without its challenges. On a personal level, huge thanks to Dylan and Simon for their amazing work and creativity in the backcountry this [2021] spring. For our fortunate regional visitors, September offered some great days for ski touring. Although our National Parks are for everyone and it wasn't the same without those who couldn't make it. Next year [2022], we can look forward to welcoming back all of our metropolitan and interstate winter adventurers to the Roof of Victoria to enjoy Out the Back of Beyond.

This article featured in our 2022 Rhythm Magazine, explore more featured articles here!

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