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Enhancing Safety in Australia's Backcountry: The Draft Snow Guidance Note

Australia's stunning alpine regions draw adventurers, skiers, and outdoor enthusiasts every winter. However, the allure of untouched wilderness, picturesque mountains, and snow comes with its own set of challenges and risks. To ensure a safer and more organised experience for everyone, the Backcountry Committee of Outdoors NSW & ACT has created the Draft Snow Guidance Note.

This document was the basis of the Victorian Snow Good Practice Guide from 2012 and has been updated to provide assistance for guiding dependent groups to navigate the risk management process and increasing the awareness of recommended procedures.

Understanding the Backcountry:

Australia's backcountry areas offer incredible opportunities for exploration, but they can be challenging for both newcomers and experienced adventurers. The Draft Snow Guidance Note acknowledges the diversity of activities taking place in these regions, from snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to mountaineering and snow camping. As such, the guidance note strives to create a framework that caters to a broad spectrum of outdoor activities.

Navigating Risk Management:

The safety of individuals and groups exploring the backcountry is of paramount importance. The Draft Snow Guidance Note takes a methodical approach to risk management. It outlines essential steps, from assessing the environmental factors and trip planning to understanding equipment requirements and emergency equipment. By following this guidance note, dependent group activities can significantly reduce the inherent risks associated with snow adventures.

Increasing Awareness:

In addition to enhancing safety measures, the Draft Snow Guidance Note seeks to raise awareness about responsible backcountry practices. It educates adventurers on the importance of respecting the environment, leaving no trace, and contributing to the preservation of these pristine areas. Moreover, it emphasises the need for proper education and training, ensuring that participants possess the necessary skills and knowledge to venture into the backcountry safely.

Collaborative Effort:

The Draft Snow Guidance Note is the result of collaboration between industry experts, outdoor enthusiasts, and organisations dedicated to promoting safe and responsible outdoor activities. By providing a unified set of guidelines and procedures, it aims to create a more inclusive and accountable backcountry community. However it is important we get feedback from the industry on what might be missing or any notable errors before its release prior to the Snow Season in 2024. So the draft document is now open for comment until 25th February 2024.

What's Next:

After the industry's feedback the final document will then be released for industry to use for the 2024 Snow Season and beyond. It will also be submitted to the Outdoor Council of Australia where it will be considered amongst other new proposed guidance documents in the review process of the Australian Adventure Activity Standard and Good Practice Guides.

The Draft Snow Guidance Note compiled by the Backcountry Committee of Outdoors NSW & ACT is a significant step towards making Australia's backcountry safer for all. By encouraging responsible practices, enhancing risk management, and fostering a sense of community, this document aims to ensure that the magic of the snowy wilderness can be enjoyed by generations to come. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or a newcomer to the backcountry, this guidance note will become a valuable resource for a safer and more enjoyable snow experiences when released in April 2024.

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