Alex Parsons

Backcountry Snow Guide, Snowy Mountains, NSW

Published 5th October 2021

My time in the Snowy Mountains and exploring the remote backcountry has drastically changed my perspective on climate change.

I’ve gone from seeing the mountains as a place to have fun — to learning how fragile the alpine environment is.

I am now educating others and campaigning for its protection.

I first fell in love with Australia's snow-capped mountains when I was 12. I'm happy to say this excitement remains after working 13 seasons in the snow.

It’s my great joy to take skiers and snowboarders past the resort boundaries into the wild mountains, where there are no chairlifts. Out there you finally get above the ridge lines and walk among Australia’s highest peaks.

I still feel utter wonder when the snow gums are coated in ice, when the granite tors are patterned with rime from blizzards and when snow falls silently from the sky.

You’re on Ngarigo Country, where the Traditional Custodians have walked for thousands of years and the rounded hills have been weathered for millions more.

"The Snowy Mountains backcountry showed me the effects of climate change."

Alex Parsons

Backcountry Snow Guide, Snowy Mountains, NSW

But the mountains are changing. The snow’s receding. I’ve witnessed this happening.

As I've learned more about guiding, I've also learned more about the environment I love.

I’ve realised snow isn’t just for skiing and snowboarding on. It’s an entire ecosystem and everything’s connected.

Climate change models have demonstrated that just a few degrees increase will see this beautiful landscape disappear. No more snow gums coated in ice, no more distant peaks dusted with snow, no more backcountry tours, and no more pygmy possums.

"I want people to feel the land, understand how unique our mountains are, and to fall in love with the Snowy Mountains the way I have — while also grasping how utterly fragile it all is."

Alex Parsons

Backcountry Snow Guide, Snowy Mountains, NSW

Last year, along with my Manager, we decided backcountry tours should have more focus on the environment.

Gone are the days when tours were for hunting out snow and nothing more. Now we include a strong focus on environmental interpretation, the effects of climate change, and Leave No Trace principles as we guide guests through the mountains.

Read Alex's whole story at We Are Explorers

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