A Slob's Guide To Climbing Mt Kosciuszko, Australia's Highest Mountain

26/01/2016 5:28 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Emily Verdouw

Australia's highest peak Mt Kosciuszko is almost exactly a quarter the height of Mt Everest. Kossie, as you really should call it if you're even half true blue, is 2,228m. Everest is 8,848 m.

There's your free fact this Australia Day. But what does this little piece of elevation education mean for you?

mt kosciuszko

That's Kossie hiding behind the rocks with a tiny patch of January snow left over from winter

It means Kosciuszko is a lot easier to climb than Mt Everest, that's what. It's also a lot closer, a lot cheaper, a lot less deadly, and a whole lot more beautiful. In fact, it's hard to think of anywhere prettier than high summer on Australia's highest peak.

mt kosciuszko

Flowers come out in midsummer up here. And the author LOVES flowers because he's a real man.

The good news is that even if you're a total slob like this writer, Kosciuszko is within easy reach. Here's how we did it. We left Sydney earlyish (but not stupidly early) on a Saturday morning in January. In theory, we could just as easily have been leaving Melbourne. Australia's two most populous cities are both within about six hours drive of Thredbo, which is the best place for a slob to launch their Kossie assault.

Along the way we ate heaps of junk food because we were all feeling pretty post-Friday night and slobbish. Then about 15 minutes from Thredbo, we stopped at a secret little camping spot called Thredbo Diggings which you shouldn't tell anyone about, ever, because it's such a great place for a river swim in cold, clear sandy-bottomed waters.

thredbo river

Shhhhhh! This place was terrible. Avoid at all costs.

Refreshed and feeling decidedly unsloblike, we drove up up to Thredbo where they were having a craft beer festival. Because they were having a craft beer festival. Because yeah. So we drank lots of craft beer and became happy slobs again. This was turning out to be a good trip.

thredbo

Gun HuffPost writers Josh Butler and Nick Visser discuss the meaning of life over a craft beer or several at Thredbo. They worked it all out too, but then forgot in the morning. Oh well.

Sunday dawned clear. We took Thredbo's aptly named Kosciuszko Express chairlift, which you won't be shocked to learn gives you an express ride in the direction of Mt Kosciuszko.

kosciuszko express chairlift thredbo

The view from about a third of the way up the chairlift. Nice way to start the day.

The chairlift does most of the hard work for you. To put it in numbers, it covers about two linear kilometres and 560 vertical metres. From the top, it's about six linear kilometres and 300 vertical metres to the summit of Kosciuszko. So basically, it's a stroll in the park over gentle, undulating terrain once you've reached the top of the chairlift.

mt kosciuszko

The mesh metal walkway is specially designed to prevent erosion.

After about half an hour's walking, Kossie was clearly visible in the distance. It's the one with the small patch of snow, as you can see above. The next landmark was very cool. It's Lake Cootapatamba, one of five tiny lakes in the Kosciuszko area which were formed by glaciation in the last Ice Age.

mt kosciuszko

It's impossible to state how pretty it is up here in high summer. And cool too, even on a hot day on the lowlands.

Nearly there. The final two kilometres were a little windier and steeper than the first section but still nothing too strenuous. You'll see plenty of primary school-aged kids doing Kossie on a fine day like the one we had. You may even see a slob or two like us.

mt kosciuszko

Nothing a jelly snake won't fix.

And then, the summit. Nice place for a ham sandwich and a selfie or two.

mt kosciuszko

That's Australia's second highest peak Mt Townsend in the distance. At 2210m, it's just 18 metres lower than Kossie.

Although this walk is about appreciating landscape on a grand scale, the micro landscape is just as beautiful. It's worth stopping by one of the frequent icy pools by the side of the trail, splashing some water on your face and just going "aaaaah".

mt kosciuszko

Australia. Midsummer. Bloody beautiful.

We caught the first chair up right on 8:30am. We were back to the top of the chairlift by midday having not pushed ourselves too hard. There's a great lunch spot at the top of the chairlift and the milkshakes are a must. Or you can just enjoy the view.

thredbo

That's Thredbo down there in the valley.

And that's that. We were on the road by about 1pm and back in Sydney before dark. The whole trip was less than 36 hours and with a couple of drivers on board, nobody got too tired.

There are tougher ways to climb Kosciuszko. You can do a longer walk from the ski resort of Charlotte Pass, or even tackle the mountain from the western side, which involves almost 2000 vertical metres of climbing. That's a serious walk by anyone's standards.

But if, like us, you wanted to get Australia's highest peak done inside a weekend without being too strenuous about it all, then the Thredbo option is definitely the best way. The Thredbo website has info on accommodation and all that kind of stuff.

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