Photo credit: Ricky French

Ask not why did the possum cross the road, but how. “Did you see the tunnel of love?” Glen Clark turns around and asks. The snow-covered ridgetop of Mt Hotham is reflected in his sunglasses. Tight clusters of ski lodges huddle together, perched over chairlifts plunging into black diamond gullies. It’s been the best snow season in years, and on this weekend about 5000 people exploit what feels to be a rare gap between lockdowns to hit the slopes.

I did see the amorous tunnel in question. The thoroughfare under the Great Alpine Road is for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums to spend quality time with their partners on the other side. These cute critters live their entire lives above the snowline and were thought extinct until rediscovered on the mountain in the 1960s. Only a couple of thousand remain, pushed to the brink by climate change and the impacts of feral animals.

Features such as the tunnel can flash by unnoticed when downhill skiing, where the quest for adrenaline often means you overlook the exquisite detail of your environment. I love downhill, but today my senses are being given time to breathe, on a snowshoeing tour that promises immersion in the minutiae of the mountain, and all its varied glory…

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