In August 2012 we hiked to the summit of Australia's tallest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, at 2228m.
We stopped in the NSW snow fields on our way back to Melbourne after a couple of days in Newcastle. We were not surprised to have to pay to enter the national park, but $27 per car per day was more expensive than expected. We payed for one day and headed into Thredbo.
The village was busy and there are specific places to park. Along the road is day only parking, and if you leave a car there overnight you'll be towed. We soon realised there was nowhere to camp in Thredbo so we drove about five minutes out of town and pulled over in the car park for the Cascade Trail.
We parked the car and headed a little ways up the track before finding a flat place to set up the tent. The snow was falling and it was very cold as we put up the tent. We went back to the car to cook and eat our dinner as the sunlight faded and snow kept falling.
In the tent that night we slept on and off as temperatures dropped to about -5 degrees.
We got up early to pack up and head into Thredbo. We planned to hike to the top of Kosciuszko and back that day - avoiding the cost of parking for a second day and the cost of accommodation (night of camping in the snow was enough for me!)
I went to the ticket office just as it opened at 8am and purchased to ski lift tickets for the Kosciuszko express, which takes you to the start of the summit hike. The lift tickets cost $32 each for a day pass, despite the fact we were only taking it once.
At the top the wind was biting cold and blowing hard. We realised we'd forgotten our proper map and the suncreen but decided to push on.
We headed off in the direction we thought the summit was and walked for a couple of hours. Sam was feeling low on energy and we stopped for some food breaks. Eventually we found a hut, the Seamans Hut, and decided to make some lunch.
Looking at the basic map we'd brought with us we realised that we'd gone slightly off course. We decided to hike to Rawsons Pass and back out again, disappointed not to reach the summit but lacking energy to get there.
The walk to Rawsons Pass started well, but soon we were on a steep section of mountain, without a real path, and slipping on the ice. There was no snow to get traction and we'd left our crampon in the car (with the map, sunscreen and Sam's sunglasses).
So we crawled, slid along - sometimes the adrenalin was pumping as I started sliding down the ice. The more I panicked the more I slid, so I had to calm myself and focus on getting across the ice.
For about 400m we struggled, using even more energy. Once we got through that section we saw a track of footprints and realised the track to the summit was right there.
We were worried about making it back to the ski lift in time for the last ride of the day, at 4.30pm, but it was only 2pm and we'd come this far, so we decided to go up.
As we walked the cloud got thicker. The track to the top is quite steep and I had to keep telling myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I tried to walk in the footprints of others to save the energy of sinking so far into the snow with each step.
At the top we couldn't see anything, but it felt good to be there! The walk up the final section to the summit had only taken 20 mins.
We didn't stay long, and headed back down. As we neared the bottom the clouds cleared - if we'd stayed just five minutes up the top we would have had great views!
The walk back to the ski lift was difficult because we were out of energy. It took about an hour of trudging through deep snow, then slipping on the ice, alternating so that you could never really get a rhythm to your steps.
It was a great relief to make it back to the ski lift (although I had my worst fall on the ice just before I reached it!) and made it back to the village.
It had been about seven hours of difficult walking in the snow, ice and wind, but we'd done it. I just wish I had remembered sun screen - the sun and wind burn on my face was red and painful and looked and felt horrible for days afterwards!