Today we successfully completed the “Main Range Walk” to the summit of Koscuiszko. We began our ascent at 9:30 AM in sunny conditions from Charlotte Pass, hiking some of the greatest alpine country in New South Wales, passing through grasslands along ridges with views of lakes and forest below until reaching the summit, where we encountered 100 km/h winds! On our descent a hailstorm moved in and we scurried down the remainder of the hike crossing the Snowy River and returned to the trailhead. We completed the 22 km loop (920m vertical climb) in about 4.5 hours, half the time suggested by the Koscuiszko park staff. It was a pleasant outing, and now we are back in the town of Jindabyne enjoying a well-deserved hot meal and glass of wine! Tomorrow we head back to Melbourne and then depart for home. It’s been a fun adventure ‘down under’ to the highest point on Australia!
Mount Kosciuszko dispatches
The Madison Mountaineering team has arrived in Melbourne to climb/hike the highest point on Oceania and one of the “original” Seven Summits. Kosciuszko (2228m / 7,310ft.) located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales is the highest point on the Australian continent. Climbers aspiring to reach the highest point on all 7 continents that comprise Earth’s surface usually make the trip “down under” in the summer months, December – February. Kosciuszko is rarely “guided” as logistically it’s pretty easy to make your way to the base of the mountain and, weather permitting, the journey to the summit is usually straightforward, although a few friends have reported white-out conditions and difficulty navigating during a storm. The ascent begins near the village of Jindabyne, and offers 3 different route options. We are planning to take the more challenging route up and one of the easier routes back down.
When American Dick Bass became the first person to reach the highest point on each of the 7 continents in 1985, Kosciuszko was a much smaller and easier objective by comparison to the others:
- Asia: Everest, 8,848m / 29,035ft.
- Africa: Kilimanjaro, 5,895m / 19,341ft.
- Europe: Mount Elbrus, 5,642m / 18,510ft.
- North America: Denali, 6,168m / 20,320ft.
- South America: Aconcagua, 6,961m / 22,837ft.
- Antarctica: Vinson Massif, 4,892m / 16,050ft.
And then there is the Carstensz / Kosciusko debate:
Another climber, who was also hoping to become the first person to climb the highest point on each of the 7 continents, and was in competition with Dick Bass, decided that Kosciuszko was not worthy of the challenge, given that the other summits are much more formidable objectives. Also, when considering all of Oceania as a continent, Kosciuszko is overshadowed by the peak Puncak Jaya (also known as Carstensz Pyramid) located in Indonesia. This climber, Reinhold Messner, has become one of the world’s best known climbers through his bold conquests: the first solo ascent of Everest, the first climb of Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen, the first climber to summit all 14 of the world’s 8000 meter peaks, and many other feats. Messner decided that nearby Carstensz Pyramid, should be considered the real climbing objective because it was much more difficult, both to access and to climb. Climbers in pursuit of the Seven Summits today usually attempt to summit both Kosciuszko and Carstensz Pyramid to cover all bases.
You can read more about the Seven Summits here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Summits