We are the Australian Backcountry Usergroup Association. We deliver an our Alpine Travel Advisory. The place to go for a streamlined and concise picture of the conditions, in one single easy view.
The site reached an audience of between 200 and 300 people per week on average during the winter season. This spikes to 600 leading into and during snow precip events, double this with our social media posts. We have lifted avalanche awareness from 'what, avalanches in Australia' to 'yeah, better be careful of the avalanche conditions'. So to all of you, who are checking in, awesome. Big thanks firstly in Victoria to Bill Barker and the patrol team at Hotham for the 'first in the field' stability warnings - great work team. Big Ups to the boys at Mt Stirling for your help. In NSW a big nod to the boys Dave and Adam, formerly of Main Range Backcountry, now Alpine Access and Snow Safety respectively.
Our Alpine Travel Advisory, we issue information regarding alpine travel safety across all aspects of the prevailing conditions (from 1 June - 31st October ). This includes firstly the weather, by observation and predictions, and the effect the weather has on the snow pack. In Australia this ranges from 'Bulletproof' hard ice, through to loose snow and the associated avalanche danger. We also report on wet snow conditions and the potential for 'wet slides'. Occasionally when our 'intel' is really good we are 'predictive', only when we have a really good hunch about the state of the range.
The rate of incidents in which individuals or entire parties become overwhelmed by the alpine conditions was increasing year on year. Not that conditions are necessarily worsening. Simply more people are heading 'out', and potentially, collectively less prepared.
The winter of 2014 showed an alarming increase in incidents across the range. In the North East Vic alone 5 parties became overwhelmed by the conditions and requiring rescues from remote areas by PSAR / ASAR alone. Unfortunately two people lost their lives in an avalanche event. For each rescue, teams of more than 30 people are assembled. All remote alpine rescues involve rescuers engaging in difficult and dangerous operations. As a testament to their training and ability they have a strong success rate. Yet in reality, the less 'call-outs' the better.
What we do: We deliver up to date advice specifically on snow conditions that anyone travelling into unpatrolled alpine environments should consider in regards to their travel safety. Wether you are on skis, snowboard, snowshoes or trusty old walking boots, the advisory delivers info on what snow conditions to expect, and any relevant safety precautions to consider when travelling in snow bound terrain.
How we do it: We harnesses a network of specialists with vast experience in interpreting snow and weather conditions and potential hazards. The core network consists of Ski Patrol organisations from the relevant alpine areas, Meteorological sources and an 'In the field' network based on voluntary observations. It is admittedly an ambitious project. No small task. We archive and cross reference weather events with previous observations which will ultimately help us better understand the degree of accuracy with which we are reporting.
Delivery: The advisory will be reviewed and updated on a 48hr cycle, or more frequently depending on storm cycles and conditions as they evolve. We will be issuing stability assessments on Thursdays (Stabs) and Mondays (Full Assessments) as the basic observations schedule. We also deliver the advisory on social media via users Facebook or Instagram. Issuing specific alerts as they come to hand.