[epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Tasmania specific bushwalking discussion.
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[epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby sloz » Mon 15 Jul, 2019 8:31 pm

To the seasoned Tassie walkers out there...

Has there been a pattern to the amount of snow fall we get in our mountains, over the last 50 years?

I have only been in Tasmania since 2014, and since then I have spent a fair bit of time in the mountains.
I've seen 5-6m snow drifts on the shady side of Mt Ossa. I've slid down end of season snow on Mt Anne.

But looking at some photos from the 1960s that depict Mt Field West, and Mt Mawson in winter... I'm seeing proper cornices and 10 metre snow drifts.
Looks way more epic than anything I've seen during my five years on this island.

So I'd be keen to hear your winter bushwalking stories on this thread!

The attached photo is from a winter Pelion Circuit we did in 2015.

Has anyone been out in some truly epic conditions? Deep, deep snow drifts, frozen tarns, frozen boots, not enough cuppa soups?

-sloz
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Sunset, Mt Pelion West.jpg
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby Rexyviney36 » Mon 15 Jul, 2019 9:19 pm

I’ve followed the snow on Ben Lomond since the early/mid 80’s and although not 100% representative of snowfalls in the Central highlands/walls or South west by any means, there has been no rhyme or reason to it.

Some years it comes early and hard and lasts through into September. Some years it comes late (they only opened one lift for the first time this season, yesterday) and they would’ve been getting a little worried up there.

As an example...
92 was an epic season.
93 there wasn’t a single weekend with the lifts operating.

There seems to be one key indicator of snowfalls in the Walls though, and that’s me planning an overnighter there...
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby weetbix456 » Mon 15 Jul, 2019 9:58 pm

2015 was pretty fun...well I had a ball anyway :D The season seemed to last for a good ol' while

Image

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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby taswegian » Thu 18 Jul, 2019 8:00 am

Living at Sheffield I've seen a gradual decline in snow for 65 years.
Early 50's we would have snow at Sheffield frequently. I remember tobogganing down one of our farm paddocks.
It wasn't until the 90's we saw heavy snow here similar to my early days.
When I was growing up in the 50's and 60's snow would often be on the Western Tiers and Black Bluff all winter, never without snow.
Black Bluff was a guide for our weather. Often snow would linger there until Christmas.
There's a local old-timers saying, whilst there's snow on The Bluff, we'd have frosts I've seen that in reality.
Nowadays it will snow then all go until the next dump.
50 years isn't a lot of time. If you read some of our early exploring, hunting etc, late Simon Cubit for egs) the snow 100 years ago was far different to current feable snow dumps.

I've noticed our biggest or heaviest snow dumps often come from the east which sounds odd.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby sloz » Thu 18 Jul, 2019 10:31 am

Interesting!

It's certainly been my sense that the amount of snowfall has been decreasing, not just in Tasmania, but around the world.

But there is nothing like first hand experience to acknowledge that this change is taking place.

Seeing the old photos and reading some early accounts, it certainly seems like our winters are getting milder.

Is it possible that within our lifetime we will see snow disappear completely in Tasmania?
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby gwynfa » Fri 19 Jul, 2019 3:02 pm

Hi. I have been studying Tasmanian snowfalls since early settlement. Way back in 1793 La Perouse visiting Tasmania for the second time noted the summit of Mt Wellington carrying snowdrifts in January. Snow in Hobart in the 1800s was not a rare feature as today. Francis Abbot a jeweller by trade also record Hobart’s weather from 1862 to 1879, plus the duration of snow on Mt Wellington.
During that time long life snow (drifts) were always present from May/June to end of October. Most winters it would disappear in November with a couple of times lingering until January.
My own records in the last 40 years fail to match those of Abbot. The arrival of the top drifts now varies from June/July to no longer than somewhere in October. Although this century has started seeing the drifts gone in September and just not reaching the depths of earlier years. My research has uncovered notes on semi-permanent snow on high peaks in previous years with this type of cover now a thing of the past.
My sons & I published more in depth in the Tas Field Naturalist in 2000 and 2009.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby mikethepike » Sat 20 Jul, 2019 9:26 pm

I have a chart somewhere that shows the monthly plot of snow depth over about 50 years at a NSW site and while the years can differ enormously, I've often wondered how closely connected are the snow seasons for NSW-Victoria and Tasmania. The change over time in the NSW snow record is one of annual decline and this is no better illustrated than here: https://www.sbs.com.au/interactive/2015 ... now-depth/. Both very impressive and very alarming!
Forty years ago I was speaking to an old-timer at Harrietville, Vic. and he told me how the town always had winter snow but by then it was becoming a rare event for snow to stay on the ground unmelted.
sloz wrote:But there is nothing like first hand experience to acknowledge that this change is taking place.
A few years ago I found out that the BOM in Tassie does nowhere record snow depth as I was trying to follow this up. The NSW records are by the Hydro people and the longer historic record is only told in the diaries of locals and in press reports.

Week 2 of August 1970 had deep snow all along the Overland Track and even in Derwent Bridge while 1971 had good late snow after early August. The first time I ever saw Snow was in late February 1970 on the western slopes of Cradle Mountain and in fact, it did snow lightly that afternoon. Also of possible interest, there was a small but deep 'ice field' in the lee of a large scoop in the side of a low cliff that we passed on the way to the summit of Frenchmans Cap in the last week of Feb 1972 and I actually wondered that it may hang on till winter and be 'permanent' snow.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby gwynfa » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 2:13 pm

Comments from the 1970s indicate that Mikethepike is correct. The Tas Uni & Australian Geogapher both noted the long life of the Frenchmans Cap drift. Frenchmans Cap.
Much of the winter' precipitation would
be in the form of snow and at present the Cap supports the westernmost of the two semi-permanent snow patches in the state (at 1400mts). Uni Tas 1975.

Australian geographer Nov 1977.
Frenchmans Cap nivation cirque.
Snow can last well into February and attained density of firn in 1965 but is regarded as seasonal for 8 to 10 months of the year. Faces NE near summit of peak.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby Mark F » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 7:21 pm

A question. Would current snow fall support the ice houses and associated commercial activity that used to exist on Mt Wellington/Kunyani? I suspect not.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby pazzar » Mon 22 Jul, 2019 12:16 pm

sloz wrote:Interesting!

It's certainly been my sense that the amount of snowfall has been decreasing, not just in Tasmania, but around the world.

But there is nothing like first hand experience to acknowledge that this change is taking place.

Seeing the old photos and reading some early accounts, it certainly seems like our winters are getting milder.

Is it possible that within our lifetime we will see snow disappear completely in Tasmania?


I was part of a research team that did a study on this, and in fact we found the opposite is happening in Tasmania. I can send you a copy if you want to have a read.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby sloz » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 2:17 pm

mikethepike, could you repost that link and make sure it's complete? Thanks.

paz, sure, i'd be keen to see that study.

We'll see if these two evidence based findings are contradictory or complimentary...?
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby north-north-west » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 3:22 pm

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there are heavier falls but the snow doesn't last as long.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby pazzar » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 6:03 pm

north-north-west wrote:I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there are heavier falls but the snow doesn't last as long.


The abstract for the study is listed here - http://www.publish.csiro.au/bt/Fulltext ... ribe=false

A quick summary on the snow data from the study suggests that
the incidence of snow fluctuated between 1983 and 2013 at Mt Field with no overall trend. Snow incidence was less on lower elevation alpine mountains in the period 1997–2013 than in the period 1983–1996, but showed a weak opposite trend on mountains higher than 1350 m.


So basically we observed an increase in the number of days that snow fell above 1350m based on satellite imagery, but this study didn't measure persistence or snow depth. The results certainly weren't what we expected.

I'll get a copy of it for you Sloz.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby taswegian » Thu 25 Jul, 2019 7:35 pm

Black Bluff 1336 m and Ironstone 1443 m are both visible from home and they're good snow indicators.
Black Bluff used to have an eastern slope that would hold snow for weeks even months, at times upto Christmas.
Ironstone could be relied on for snow capped delights for similar lengths.

That just doesn't happen nowadays, and I'd suggest even the frequency of snow has severely retracted.

Last weekends dump is now rapidly dwindling. It's just too warm.

But these matters really need to be tempered against long term records if such available and not looked at in isolation as the new norm.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby pazzar » Fri 26 Jul, 2019 11:03 am

Yep Black Bluff has a ridge on the eastern side that holds snow relatively well. Ironstone doesn't hold snow that well except for a few patches in the boulders.

I researched these 'snow patches' for my masters degree. There are only about 120 sites in Tasmania that hold snow until the end of Spring. The best of these is Mt Massif. There has been 30+ years of research done on a patch above Clemes Tarn at Mt Field, but the most visible patch is on the northern slopes of Cradle. The plants that survive underneath are mostly herbaceous, but as the snow melts faster, they are becoming increasingly shrubby.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby gwynfa » Fri 26 Jul, 2019 11:34 am

Collecting information on old Tasmanian snowfalls indicated that since the early 1800s overall falls have declined, especially to lower levels. Skiing was once a feature on Mt Wellington pre WW2, now it is declining at Mt Mawson. Would like to have a list Pazzar of your long life snow patch locations to compare with my (no very scientific) record of summer snow drifts. Collected from observation and other sources in articles/photos etc: I used to think I was the only person following the snow!!
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby Azza » Fri 26 Jul, 2019 12:08 pm

I believe that Ironstone was one of the original contenders for development of a ski field because it held the snow well and was quite high.
Along with Mt Rufus, there were plans to relocate a chair lift from Mt Buller at one stage.
https://cams.ski.com.au/photos/tasmania ... 001333.jpg

Ben Lomond ended up being the chosen option.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby pazzar » Fri 26 Jul, 2019 12:58 pm

If I were building a ski lodge, Rufus would be the most reliable mountain in terms of persistent cover.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Fri 26 Jul, 2019 2:05 pm

pazzar wrote:If I were building a ski lodge, Rufus would be the most reliable mountain in terms of persistent cover.



I've heard Goulds Sugarloaf was once considered too.
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Re: [epic winter bushwalking stories on this thread]

Postby jmac » Sat 27 Jul, 2019 3:13 pm

I reckon skiable snow used to stay longer in the spring. For many consecutive years I went skiing with friends on AFL grand final weekend in the 80s and 90s. There was usually somewhere worth skiing late September/early October. Here’s a pic of pretty good cover in the Labyrinth, I’m sure this was on Launceston Show long weekend; so early October. Image
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