All the feels washed over me! Proud, delighted, amazed, awesome, accomplished, happy and also a little damp….. I Conquered Mt Kosciuszko!
Carb loading my foodie friends, is all you need think when considering joining the fit freaks on escapades that involve a 4 hour hike to the rooftop of Australia. Not that I feel I need an excuse to stuff food in my pie hole, especially when it is birthday week, but I still made good work of eating ALL the foods to prepare myself for this 13km walk.
Excitement levels were rising as we were hauled up the mountainside on the Kosciuszko Express chairlift (a one-way ticket is A$35 per person), though fit people can start walking from Thredbo village.
We set off through granite boulders into the mist with Rams Head Range above. The path is raised metal mesh that took 17 years to construct and is designed to protect the landscape, and also to keep your feet dry.
They say that walking is meditative and as we climb the paved hill I am aware of every step and every breath I take, as the climb gets longer I find a rhythm that allows me to take in the wild flower spotted summer hills, their prettiness is a contrast to the rugged scenery and sparse terrain.
‘Come on old girl,’ chirped my friends as they trotted up ahead. Cheeky beggars! ‘Altitude’, I exclaim. That’s the only way I can explain the shortness of breath. There are ups and downs, but no steep climbs. It’s true however, that you don’t need Olympian fitness to reach the top of Mt Kosciuszko.
Streams gurgle, frogs croak.
We soon reach a rise where we get a first glimpse of Australia’s highest point. From here, the summit doesn’t really stand out, it just looks like a pile of rounded rocks, but I am beginning to get excited as we continue on through the wild and rocky landscape where bucket list ticks come thick and fast.
We pass Lake Cootapatamba, Australia’s highest lake and one of 5 mainland glacial lakes, Rawson’s Pass that overlooks Australia’s highest permanent settlement Charlotte Pass, we take a tinkle in Australia’s highest public toilet and then the final ascent, a steady climb circling round the dome to the top.
Pina Colada = YES! Getting caught in the rain = NO!
The weather (and, the forecast) cannot be trusted. Even in the height of summer, double-digit temperatures (in Celsius) are not guaranteed. Layered clothing is a must. I was sporting long pants; a singlet, t-shirt, long sleeved top, hoodie and you’d be foolish not to have a waterproof jacket.
On the day of our hike, I awoke to a cool overcast Canberra morning. Spirits dampened slightly on sighting the dense fog weighing down the mountain slope, visibility was next to none and did I mention we were warned about a nasty storm due to sweep through later that day. But we figured our odds were even that the weather would improve, so on we marched.
Reaching the Summit!
Finally, after climbing through the cold, mist and wind, getting slammed by a thousand hail needles and drenched by sideways icy rain, we arrived at the peak at 1.00pm under a blazing mid-day sun. There we were standing tall on the rooftop of Australia. In that moment there was no one higher than us in the country. I could not believe it, but I conquered Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain. We three took in the views that swept 360 degrees, with sweeping views of the other peaks on the range, the landscape a kaleidoscope of colours, the fresh alpine air that smelt of wildflowers filled our lungs. It was magic, I felt on top of the world.
Mt Kosciuszko is a true national icon standing at 2228 metres above sea level.
Old mate at the top explained that despite the walk being one of the most accessible and enjoyable hikes in Australia, something like 9 out of 10 Aussies have never been to the top to experience the best views in the country.
All Done – I Conquered Mt Kosciuszko.
And just like that, my birthday present Kosciuszko adventure was over, leaving me with a fine sense of achievement and an irresistible urge for a burger and beer to mark the occasion, because as the little broski says, ‘you burn it, you earn it!’
Can you tick climbing to the top of one of the Worlds 7 Summits and Australia’s highest mountain off your bucket list? And do you exercise because it means you get to eat all the foods and feel none of the guilt?