Backcountry ski and board festival returns to Hotham this September

Freshies at Baldy Hollow by Charlie Brown

The Victorian Backcountry Festival is back for a second year and will be held at Hotham on September 7 and 8 this winter.

The Backcountry Festival celebrates ‘all things backcountry’ – human powered winter sports including cross country skiing, snow shoeing, telemark and alpine touring, split boarding and mountain culture. It’s a grassroots, volunteer run festival for the backcountry community.

It is also an opportunity for resort riders and skiers to be introduced to terrain beyond the lift lines.

The festival will offer tours, clinics, gear demos, and workshops in backcountry skills like navigation, snow camping, self rescue and avalanche safety.

The 2019 festival will be bigger and more diverse than last year and will include an extended speaker’s program, hosted by The General on Saturday September 7. The program will include more advanced tours plus an introduction to ski mountaineering. There’s even an outdoor pop up bar in a ski in backcountry location. 

Those looking to upskill can partake in a two day avalanche safety course (Canadian AST1 curriculum) offered by Alpine Access Australia. If you want to up the ante then you can join a three day backcountry camp on the Razorback and Mt Feathertop and test your new skills in Australia’s grandest alpine terrain from September 9 to 11. 

The festival will serve up an impressive line up of workshops from the likes of Olympian Katya Crema, Hotham legend Buff Farnell revealing his favourite Hotham side country, ski patroller and Gulmarg and Antarctic guru Bill Baker plus journalist Melissa Clarke. 

The speakers program will cover topics ranging from efforts to protect the mountain pygmy possum and ski mountaineering, to a human powered traverse of Antarctica.

“Hotham is the prefect place for a backcountry festival, with diverse and challenging terrain easily accessible from the resort and fantastic touring options” says festival organizer Cam Walker. “The Hotham community has embraced the festival, and we have events happening over three nights at a range of venues, including a fund raiser for Protect Our Winters on the Sunday night.”

The registration for the festival is $10. Most sessions and tours are offered for free through the generosity of many individuals and businesses. The program will be launched on May 27.

In the meantime you can register here.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.