Saturday, 7 May 2011

Snowy Mountains Trip - Day 13

Day 13 - 7/5/2011 - Mt Kosciuszko Day Trip

Today was the day that Lisa, Ian and I were going to conquer Mt Kosciuszko!!!!  Again it was an early start because we knew the walk from the top of Thredbo takes 3 to 5 hours and the weather can change fairly quickly so the earlier the start the better.  It was a beautiful clear and cold day - couldn’t have asked for better for the climb!  The temperature dropped to -2.4 degrees overnight and there was a good frost in the morning.  It was a toasty 18deg inside the house due to the central heating.  When we left Jindabyne at about 8am, it was about 1 deg, so we knew it was going to be cold at the top of Thredbo and Kosciuszko, especially with the wind chill factor!

Frost on the table


Just as we pulled into Thredbo a bunch of school girls alighted from a bus so we hot footed it over to get our chair lift passes and get on the chair lift so we didn’t get held up by them.  The main Eagles Nest chair lift wasn’t operating and we had to take the Snow Gums chair lift instead.  This meant that we then had to walk from the Snow Gums up a steep trail to the start of the Kosciuszko track at the Eagles Nest chair lift, about 150m up a steep hill!!!

By the time that we reached the start of the track we were all out of breath, the lungs were burning and the legs were killing, especially Ians.  His were already sore from a solid work out on the downhill mountain bike track from the day before.  We were all thinking that if the rest of the walk was going to be like this, we would just turn around now and head home with our tails between out legs.  Luckily from the top of Thredbo the path was pretty good.  It was paved at the start and then turned into an elevated metal gantry walkway for a majority of the way.   Unfortunately there were no escalators for the long uphill sections!!!

Even though the scenery was magnificent, we made a decision at the start that the first half of the walk “Was all about the destination, not the journey”.  This was so that we didn’t waste time taking a gazillion photos, get over taken by the school girls and potentially have to turn around due to any changes in the weather!  We had to stay focused to make sure that we were going to get to the top of Australia!

Even though the school girls had given us a decent head start, they were gaining on us.  It was a bit demoralising when you are power walking along, out of breath and then over taken by a bunch of school girls just strolling along chatting at a million miles an hour to each other.  Makes you feel old and really unfit!!!  It was a bit of consolation that only a handful managed to beat us to the top and some didn’t even make it!

We made it to the top!!!  We did the 7km in about 1hr 40min.  The view was spectacular and the wind was strong and cutting to the bone.  We estimated that it would have been around 0 deg or lower when taking the wind chill factor into consideration!

The proof that we made it!!
The view from the top of Australia
To let the others, at “base camp” know that we made it there ok, I was going to use my SPOT tracker because we weren’t counting on mobile reception.  I thought it was going to be pretty cool to let people know we made it there via satellite.  As soon as I activated the OK button on the tracker, Lisa’s phone received an SMS from the tracker.  It was a bit of an anticlimax finding out that there was full mobile reception at the top of Kosciuszko.  Better coverage than in some areas around Bundy!!!

SPOT on the Kosciuszko trig station
Ian, Lisa, Steve and Banana Girl
We found a sheltered area just off the summit behind some rocks out of the wind and in the sun to have something to eat to build up the energy for the return journey.

On the return journey we took a few photos, but the new “destination” had become the Jindabyne pie shop for a late lunch, so we still maintained a cracking pace!

Lake Cootapatamba
Spectacular landscapes
It was so cold that even at mid day some of the little streams were still frozen over.  Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of some of them but the crystals were just at the stage where they were starting to form on top of the still puddles.  It was amazing to see the triangular shapes in the just starting to freeze water.

Frozen puddle at midday
On the way up in the morning, there was one section where was a tiny stream running over some rocks on the path.  The water on top had frozen over but the water underneath was still moving over the rocks - very cool.  On the way down it had either thawed out or been trodden on by the ever increasing number of people that we were now passing on the track.

We all came to the conclusion that it was pretty nice to get to the summit when there was hardly one else there.  We were about the 3rd group of people to get there and there was only probably 7 people there all up.  Another one of the advantages of starting early.  By the time we were leaving and on the way back down, the number of people heading towards the summit was steadily increasing.  There is something special about being places like that with out all of the crowds.

As we were getting closer to the chair lift, the wind was steadily increasing and the clouds were starting to roll in.  Certainly not as nice as the morning.  We made it back to the chair lift by about 1:30pm.  It was a great climb and would not be too difficult for most people in the warmer months.  Just over 3 hours for the round trip from the Eagles Nest chair lift.

Snow Gums chair lift heading into Thredbo
Kosciuszko conquered! Now only the northern, southern, western and centres of the Australia to go!!! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_points_of_Australia)

That night for dinner Megan cooked up a lovely vegie lasagna and there were a couple of potato bakes to complement it, mmmmmmm.  We had run out of rice pudding for dessert at this stage but because there were no early morning starts planned for the next day, there was plenty of rum and port to fill the gap!!!

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