What Happens When the Snow Melts?

What Happens When the Snow Melts?


“When snow melts, what does it become?'
It becomes water, of course'
Wrong! It becomes spring!”
― Natsuki Takaya

Every year as we start to approach summer we observe the snow melting. For those of us in the outdoors industry this means at least three things:

  1. Changes in our parks and dams,
  2. Shoulder season prices and availability 
  3. The discovery of both trash and treasure 

First of all there are the obvious changes. Around the Snowy Mountains area the melt cycle will start roughly from September and by the end of October you can see the results in the local Jindabyne dam as the water level rises. This completes the transition from skiing in winter to hosting the water skiing nationals in January in which the main lake can see a volume change of up to 20% within one year.

This change of ground coverage is something to note for all those keen hikers out there. During October can be a great time to access the alpine for less experienced winter hikers as there will often be plenty of snow above the 2000 meter line to practice some snowshoeing or basic snow mountaineering. The benefit is that you are able to walk up to the snow-line in your normal hiking shoes and it’s significantly less likely for the temperature to go below zero. 

The second main thing that happens when the snow melts is the emergence of opportunities for thrifty travellers. The time after most ski resorts are closing is known in the local tourism sector as the “shoulder season”. With the exception of the October long weekend this can often mean no crowds and plenty of discounts! 

Sounds great right? Just make sure that you plan ahead as restaurants and businesses in smaller season towns often close for a few weeks during this time, so make sure you have your alpine activities planned out when taking advantage of the shoulder season.

Thirdly, one of the most interesting things about seeing the snow melt at the end of the season is the  variety of items which appear from underneath the snow.  Everything from Gopros to garbage, cash to containers, and phones to plastic.

This April in Niseko, Japan the locals attend an end of season community clean up day in which 660kgs of rubbish was collected in under three hours. This was all collected around town from melting snow banks and highlights how these resort towns can be mistreated throughout the season. 

On a more optimistic note, a variety of personal items can be discovered at this time. Phones, wallets, gopros, loose skis and jewelry can almost always be found under chairlifts on the ski field. The locals in Niseko were famous for trying to find the owner's details of items or keeping wallets over summer in case the owner visited next winter. 

Author: Michael Reidy

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