With a tip of my hat to Dick Bass, who started all the 7 Summits stuff, I wanted to include Kosciuszko in my project. I had summited Carstensz on October 22, 2011 and flew immediately to Sydney focused
on completing my 8th of the 7 Summits climbs in one year.
Arriving in a bit of a haze, I rented a car with the intention of getting out of Sydney and resting up for a couple of days before going to Kosciuszko. However, once on the road, I kept driving thoroughly
enjoying the vast countryside of the New South Wales (NSW) area of eastern Australia.
I kept saying out loud, "look right, drive left" as a way of coping with the swapped lane driving. I reached a small tourist town that served as a gateway to the Snowy Mountain area and asked for
information about Kosciuszko at the information center. The polite women behind the counter proceeded to tell me that it was snow covered, I needed snow shoes and would probably not make it. I smiled and
politely thanked them.
The next stop was more encouraging as I bought my entrance ticket to the Kosciuszko National Park. This time, I was told, lots of people are climbing it daily and the route is a bit snow covered in
places and the summit proper was heavily corniced preventing the usual approach so everyone is just going straight up. I liked this scenario better!
I continued to the ski village of Thredbo and found a great studio apartment for one night, it even include wifi. As I looked out my window towards the ski lifts, however, low clouds covered the tops
of the mountains. I knew weather could be a problem with many fellow climbers telling me that of all the 7 Summits, Kosciuszko, proved to be difficult. Some told of getting lost in dense fog, others of
high winds and blowing snow. So I went to bed wary.
A Perfect Day
The next morning it was if someone had taken glass cleaner to the skies - pure blue, no clouds and temperatures in the high 30'sF. I had considered taking the slightly longer route from Charlotte Pass
rather than the ski lift from Thredbo, but in the end, the ski lift won out and I bought my lift ticket and boarded it at the opening time of 9:00 AM along with a large group of international students.
I relaxed on the short ride up reflecting the culture shock of just being in the jungles of New Guinea only 3 days earlier. This was my 8th climb and I had been gone from home for almost 7 of the last
11 months. But I was eager to stand on the summit of Australia's mainland highest peak and looked anxiously ahead as the lift stopped. It was 8 miles round trip
with an elevation gain from 6,354' to 7,310'.
The route was more than obvious - a raised metal grated boardwalk had been installed for the majority of the walk. Over 100,000 people a year do this walk, so in the interest of protecting
the fragile tundra, the walkway was constructed. A few other people soon joined the walk and I made good progress towards Kosciuszko.
It became visible about half way. I was surprised at how large it looked, even from a distance. It was a classic smooth mound standing high over the surrounding area. Completely snow covered, I could
understand how some people might go astray in harsh weather. But the day was beyond perfect.
8 of 7
I reached the end of the boardwalk where the Kosciuszko Walk merged with the trail from Charlotte Pass which starts at 6,026'. All that was left was to gain the summit by going straight up the snowy
mountain side. I was glad I had worn my jacket and gloves and it was a bit chilly with a lite breeze off the snow but in a few minutes I stood on the summit. It had taken a little over an hour; the shortest
summit climb of all 8 by far!
I asked some of my fellow summiteers to take my picture while standing on top of the rock marker, it seemed everyone was doing this. I called Cathy for the 8th time from these climbs and posted a
audio dispatch to my blog. Then I sat down on a big rock and looked around.
The first summit was Mt. Vinson in Antarctica on December 9th 2010. This was the last summit on October 25, 2011. I had made every summits except for Denali stopped by weather, 3100' short of the summit.
But it was OK. I had been able to send our Alzheimer's message of hope, need and urgency from each continent reaching over 12 million people and raising money for research, awareness and caregivers.
It had been a good year.