I’ve had a pretty good run over the last 1.5 years. With a nonstop hiking and climbing schedule, I managed to avoid any major injuries or disruptions. However, after surviving the Karakoram and the Himalayas and even spending some time in the death zone, my luck ran out.
My first hike back in Australia was a 44km loop route to the ten highest peaks of the country. Halfway through I made a miscalculated decision to jump over a river. I missed the landing and was in some serious pain. With another 19km to hike out and no chance of any help, I tightened the laces on my boot and limped onwards. It turns out I’ve ruptured two ligaments and chipped the bone in my ankle joint requiring surgery.
Luckily, the surgery will happen soon and I will be out from hiking for about 4-6 weeks, which isn’t the worst result. A fractured ankle would be 8-12 weeks. So that’s the hand I’ve been dealt and I’ll carry on trying to keep a positive attitude and training for a return to the trails in 2022.
Here’s a look at the hike through the Kosciuszko National Park on the Ten Peaks Hike from the week that was.
Summiting Kosciuszko had always been an adventure I was keen on but when I found out about the 44km route of the Ten Peaks Hike, I was motivated to get out there and make it happen. It’s pretty unique to be able to touch the ten highest peaks of a country in just a couple of days throughout a single route. I landed in Sydney and picked up a campervan from Travellers Autobarn. It ended up being a great way to do this hike and a pretty cheap alternative to staying in hotels in rural towns. Much easier than camping also.
I drove down to Jindabyne, which is one of the towns nearby the hike starting point in Charlotte’s Pass. I slept one night in Jindabyne and waited until the ticket station opened in the morning so I could legally enter the Kosciuszko National Park. It’s just $17 a day for one person with a vehicle to be inside the park. Camping within the park is just a small fee per night at one of the registered campsites. I simplified things and just drove straight to Charlotte’s Pass that morning and parked my car just below the parking lot. The parking is free and it is requested that multi-day hikers park slightly below the regular parking lot, which is used for day visitors. I set off for the hike from the parking lot at about 8:30 am with the plan to be back in the late afternoon the following day having completed the 44km route of the Ten Peaks Hike.
The hike is a 44km loop route, which starts and ends at Charlotte’s Pass parking lot. Most of the reports I’ve read, recommend summiting Mount Twynam first, traveling in a counter-clockwise direction. This worked for me but I can’t see that doing it in reverse would be much different given that the incline undulates.
It snowed the week before my hike and a storm was scheduled, which is why my photos are quite gloomy and many of the summits lack an amazing photograph. However, I did get enough pockets of sunshine amidst the fog and rain to enjoy the scenery.
The hike begins along the Main Range Track, which is essentially a service road. It doesn’t feel too wild as you make your way through nature on such a wide path but after about an hour, you deviate off the trail and into the wilderness to reach your first peak of Mount Twynam. Atop each peak, you should find a clear rock stack or monument to notify you have actually reached the summit. Many of these peaks are not frequently visited and are well off the main tourist track. This is why having the GPX to follow closely helped in times when everything was covered in snow or it was a ‘choose your own path’ type of scrambling up the rocks and boulders.
Amidst the fog, I continued on to reach the next few peaks in succession as the snow began to thicken. I found myself at times completely surrounded by fog while walking in the snow. I never thought I’d experience that while hiking in Australia in November but here I was. navigation became quite hard and I was thankful to have a reliable GPX route to follow. I crossed a few beautiful lakes with little cascades and waterfalls that had broken through the ice and snow cover. It was a winter scene one would expect in New Zealand or Iceland.
After the first few peaks, the trail begins to open up a bit with some scenic views over towards Mount Townsend and Alice Rawson Peak. The fog cleared and a number of stunning alpine lakes came into view. With the spotted layering of snow surrounding the striking blue of the lake, it was quite a scene. During this traverse over towards Mount Townsend, the trail joins a metal boardwalk for a kilometer before rounding the lake and heading up for a rock scramble to join the ridge on the other side. The rock scrambling was never too extreme but for those expecting a simple walking trail, you will be up for a bit more of a challenging route than expected. No extra gear is needed but this area did get. a little interesting especially once the rocks became a little slippery in the rain.
The weather had finally caught up with me and by mid-afternoon, the rain started to come down with some force. I quickly set up camp just beneath Mount Townsend after almost 23km of hiking done and dusted. There are plenty of flat patches to camp on around these areas with water available throughout most parts of the hike aswell but this would all depend on the season. I set up early in the afternoon and hid from the rain for the rest of the day and during the night hoping for better weather in the morning.
The next morning provided some slight improvements to the weather although my first peak of the day, Abbott Peak, was completely covered by fog in a full white-out. It was now time to head down into the valley and cross over and up onto the ridge leading up to the biggest of them all, Mount Kosciuszko. Unfortunately for me, tragedy struck and I had an injury while trying to cross one of the rivers. A bad landing had me rupturing two ligaments and chipping off my bone. I continued up to the summit of Kosciuszko, despite extreme discomfort. The torrential downpour didn’t help my spirits.
Around mid-morning I made it up the snowy ridge to Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak. The clouds came and went but never fully opened up for an excellent view from the summit. This spot is normally crowded in good weather, but I met just two people atop the peak. They had done the popular Summit Trail from Charlotte’s Pass, which is a 9km route one way so 18km return trip.
From Kosciuszko, the trip is relatively easy with just two more peaks to collect, which are Ram’s Head and Ram’s Head North. The rain and bad weather continued for me with more whiteout conditions but I carried on and ended up making it back to the Charlotte’s Pass Parking Lot by mid-afternoon. The final few kilometers were among the prettiest of the entire route with the trail looking down over the river and snowy valley below. Overall, (despite the injury) it was a great journey and a hiking trail I would highly recommend to Aussies looking for a challenging expedition.