Hi ho hi ho, to the highest point we go. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest point in Australia with the elevation of 2228m, it’s located in the Main Range of The Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park. The mountain can be climbed from several different trails ranging in length, steepness and difficulty. All these trails require entering the national park and paying the fee.
After our adventure to Yarrangobilly Caves yesterday, the taste of the mountains had us craving more. Stacey and I set off again, with the peak of Kosciuszko in our sight. After some advice off another friend who had climbed the mountain a few times, we decided to drive to Charlotte’s Pass and begin the journey from there.
Entering the national park cost us $16, however this price rises in the peak winter season (June – September) to $29. During the peak season, the road from Perisher to Charlottes is actually closed so I would recommend going from either Thredbo or Guthega. The drive up to Charlottes takes about 45 mins from Jindabyne, keep in mind this road can sometimes be covered in snow and chains can be required.
From Charlottes Pass we began at 11.30am, (I wouldn’t recommend starting any later than this, we were just delayed from a few extra wines the night previous) we set off on the ‘Summit Walk’ which is an 18km round trip, rated a moderate walk (we later found out it upgrades to difficult with snowfall!) We were extremely fortunate to have such a stunning day, blue skies, new snow kissing mountain tops, 6 degrees and not a whisper of wind.
Within the first kilometer we saw a man returning, carry snow shoes, surely there couldn’t be that much snow right? Wrong! How wrong we were. Fooled by the lack of coverage at the local ski resorts, we were doubtful of the coverage on the main range. And so began the discovery of the blistered feet. I’m personally use to walking in snow, this is my 5th back to back winter I’m entering, but let me tell you this, it made things a little more enduring.
Over the 6 hour adventure of the day, we invented many techniques walking through this snow. First began the tire tracks, we followed through a path a car had left… until there were no tracks left, then we tried walking in others foot prints, which turned out to be more effort than not. “Oh that patch looks flat and easy” *SMASHBANGWHACK* “….That would be ice” And just when we thought we were getting use to trudging through the snow, so began the walk of angulation; where your upper leg is setting the pace. Don’t get me wrong, the walk is spectacular, however be prepared in snowy conditions to have blisters on your ankles and feet, it’s all part of the fun right?
Not long into the walk, we removed layers, I spent the day in just a long sleeved shirt and a woolen vest. I was actually quite surprised at how pleasant the temperature was, if there had of been wind though, I’m sure it would have been another story. I had actually read in the Mt Kosciuszko registry book, that just 3 days earlier there were 90km/h winds which made for a displeasing day to visitors.
You’ll find this registry located in ‘Seaman’s Hut,’ 6km into the walk from Charlottes. Seaman’s Hut was built in memory of Laurie Seaman, who died from exposure in 1929. The hut is now intended as emergency shelter, it has a fire place with plenty of wood and even some dried food that local hikers maintain out of their own goodwill. When we set off from the hut, we were captured by ski and snowboard tracks on a nearby cliff, we soon realized these tracks lead all the way from the top of Kosciuszko! “Man! Why didn’t we boot pack?!”
The snow changed to a more powdery, chalky feel which made it a little easier to walk in, there was still a few stumbles as we walked into some sneaky wind stashes. With the peak now in our vision, I’d completely forgotten about the pain in my shoes and it was just one foot after another. I had noticed Stacey becoming a little timid and we took a few more breaks, with 1km left, we began the last stretch.
The climb had become steeper, with the snow condition changing frequently depending on the exposure to wind, we had reached quite an icy area with a near vertical face dropping down to the gully. Stacey was becoming more anxious, I unsure whether to push and encourage her or whether it was too much. We took a breather, and Stacey told me a story from just a few months back where she found herself on a very narrow, icy peak in Japan doing an Avalanche awareness course. She found herself in harsh weather conditions slipping and stumbling becoming more anxious by the minute. When it was aware that it was becoming too dangerous they went to turn around and she watched someone’s ski launch off the edge and plummet down the mountain. It was now she decided she would wait here for me to return.
As the trail curled around the mountain I found myself wandering through one of Narnia’s magical ice palaces. The face I was climbing was completely unprotected and was covered in the most extraordinary snowy sculptures, the detail the wind had left was even more impressive than anything I’d seen the wind do in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. As I passed chimes of icicles, the snow underneath my feet became slick, icy and crunchy, the walls to my side fell as I reached the top of Mount Kosciuszko.
At the very top there was a solo Canadian man who asked me to take some photos, in return he insisted he also take some whilst I climbed atop the rock at the peak. There aren’t many words you can use to describe the high you feel at the top of a peak, pretty damn invincible. A happiness that can never be taken from you, a smile that hurts your cheeks, a stolen breath that you want to shout noise into.
Overflowing with ecstasy I facetimed my Mother (Goose) and danced on top of the mountain. Goosey loves to live vicariously through me!
The falling sun made me very aware of the escaping time, and I realized we had to begin the return journey to get back before dark. Collecting Stacey we ventured back. “My feet.. oh god my feet” “Just think of the Chicken! (The chicken: probably spoken of at least 26 times during the day to distract pain) (we had a chicken slow cooking at home) “The chiccckkeeennn!” “AND THE WINE”
As we made our way back we were greeted with another spectacular sunset, we arrived back to the car at 5.30pm. And let me tell you as soon as that sun went down, so did the temperature. I threw my shoes off and looked down at me feet, although they bared many of blisters, all I saw was happiness.