OBSERVATIONS, FOR YOU, POWERED BY YOU
These are the observation pages for Mount Feathertop and country from Stoney Tops all the way down to Dargo Bowl . Then east to Mount Loch and Swindlers Chutes - thus incorporating most of the Mount Hotham 'Side'country in the process. There are some pointers on what and how to submit observations here: 'How to write and submit observations'. This is pretty basic and easy, and let's face it, you're just sitting around a lot between 6pm and 6am so if you have enough network coverage, help us all out.
See 'Comments' at the bottom of the page for the most recent observations.
Interestingly, the areas featured in this section are the locations where most alpine skiers based in Victoria first experience 'the Backcountry'. Quite possibly due to the visibility of the drawcard terrain on Mount Feathertop from ski resort at Mount Hotham. Also possibly due to the fact that the sidecountry areas around the resort offer the plenty of temptation close at hand. I'll hand over to Cam Walker of The Mountain Journal as a local for more:
If you have mostly only skied/ boarded in resorts, please be aware of the dangers that come with back country riding:
Avalanches. As we have seen in the winter of 2014, avalanches do happen in the Australian mountains. In the Hotham area, those slopes that are most prone to slides (to the best of my knowledge) are the southern and SE facing bowls of Mt Hotham itself. But in the right conditions, almost any terrain can slide. Be aware of the various forms of danger (cornices giving way, wind loading after storms, new snow instability, weak layers in the snow profile, etc).
Variable conditions. In a resort, ski patrol will have assessed slopes before people get out on them. In the back country you need to be able to read terrain for the type of snow you’ll be on. Altitude, aspect (whether a particular slope faces to the sun or is sheltered from direct light) and prevailing winds (which may for instance scour snow off wind affected slopes and push fresh powder onto leeward side slopes) all influence the snow you’ll be on. If possible, visually scope a line before committing to it. On the first run down a new slope, ski/ ride conservatively so you’re ready for any sudden transition from snow to ice, etc.
There is a lot to be said about this area, but for now... if you don't already know, then go with someone who does. There is some more background and a brains trust on the area here: