New road - good or bad for skiers?
THE arguments around the proposed link road to be built between Mt Buller and Mt Stirling have raised some issues from skiers who use the area.
One person opposing the concept of the road assisting cross country skiing is Charles Street.
Mr Street has been a keen cross country (XC) skier, bushwalker and a campaigner for the conservation of Mt Stirling for more than 20 years.
He was also a member of the Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Alpine Resort Management Board (ARMB) from 2004 to 2006.
His more than 35 years’ experience as a XC skier has included being a member of the Mansfield Nordic Ski Club during the 1990s, secretary of Ski Cross Country Victoria from 2002 to 2011 and a XC Ski Racing Technical Delegate - Level 3 under Federation International de Ski rules.
It has been quoted that, “the Link Road will be a Nordic ski trail in winter”.
The Link Road has been designed for buses, according to Mr Street - “in a few years’ time, skiers will be jumping out of the way of buses”.
“XC skiers need more than 25cm of continuous snow - we will not get this on the north side,” he said.
“The top of the Link Road is 1520 metres altitude, while the bottom is at 1405m.
“There will be little and ever-diminishing snow falls in this altitude range, as evidenced in the CSIRO report ‘Climate change impacts on snow in Victoria’ by Jonas Bhend, Janice Bathols and Kevin Hennessy.”
Mr Street added that as an XC ski trail, the Link Road will be the failure that it was designed to be.
“The Link Road is to be built on the northern (sunny) side of Cornhill and any snowfall there will melt during sunny conditions,” Mr Street explained.
“Also, dumps of snow come from the southwest, so southern slopes receive more snow and a road on the northern slopes will receive less.”
Mr Street is also concerned about the loss of Mount Stirling as an XC ski destination.
“The proposed road is a ‘road to nowhere’, unless the ARMB intends to convert Mt Stirling into ‘somewhere’,” he said.
“If accommodation and related infrastructure are built on Stirling, the XC ski trails will become roadways for vehicle access, eg 4WD taxis, supply trucks and maintenance vehicles.
“The trails will quickly become unskiable and XC skiers will become unwelcome.”
Local pharmacist and prolific XC skier, John Eisner, has a different perspective.
“While I agree with a lot of Mr Street’s points, if the alternative to the proposed northern road is to upgrade the existing south side road, that would be a disaster,” he said.
“The road on the south side of Cornhill is currently used by XC skiers as access for the Cornhill trails.
“Also the first part of the road from Horse Hill is currently where the dog sleds operate.”
Mr Eisner sees any upgrade as interfering with XC skiing rather than aiding it.
“Clearing an upgraded southern road and having to share it with vehicles will ruin the XC experience,” he said.
“As it is, not enough skiers make use of the area now.
“What is more important in all these discussions is the agenda for Mt Stirling.”
Mr Eisner added that the future of skiing at Mt Stirling needs to have a plan, and part of that plan has to be keeping Mt Stirling natural.