Nature-ral High

Nature-ral High
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail

October 9, 2011

Mt. Kosciuszko (The Climb)

I walk up early the next day. A miracle did happen, I can see no clouds in the sky. The sun was shining bright. Nadia told me I was very lucky, and shes also sure that lots of people will go up to ski or to hike.
  So I hurriedly prepared and proceed with my hike.  I was glad I decided to take the chairlift, it was a 15 minute scenic ride. Very enchanting (yet scary) view.

Good Weather

Just like Baguio but better

The ride


    For the record, I have no experience climbing in alpine/snow. Since there were fresh snow from last night, the whole mountain top was covered in snow. Alpine hike is very very much different from the tropics, everything was white and there is no trail. As the sun goes higher, the surrounding goes brighter, to the point that its very difficult to open your eyes. To those who are still not aware, long exposure to this surrounding can cause snow blindness. UV light is several times stronger in the mountain,specially in alpine condition.  Adding to the problem was that I forgot to bring my sunglasses (which I think is still in-adequate). Miracoleously, a good Samaritan lend me her snow glasses. She said that I just put it back to a rock where we met. Shes really an angel. The terrain is rolling until you reach the summit. Whenever there was a bit of uphill trek, I was breathing heavily. I dont know if its the weight of the snow boots and shoes (around 2-3lbs each leg), or the air was just thin. Footing was also difficult on uneven terrain due to the size of the snow shoes.  I got lost twice following two ski tracks, losing much precious time, I guess its just my climbing instinct that saved me. Since time was not on my side, I didn't took my lunch. I just ate the choco trail food I brought. My perception was that when you on snow it will be chilly, but as I quicken my face, I sweat a lot. But whenever I made short stops to catch my breath chill immediately take over. The most difficult part was the final assault to the summit, it was steep. I reached the summit at around 12:15pm. A few minutes early of my turn-back cut-off time. 
       The summit view was unexplainable. Snow cap mountains on the close distance and as it goes farther the view gets greener. I met a Swedish and Australian couple on the summit, I believe I was the 4th to arrive at the summit that day. I really want to stay a bit longer to enjoy the view, but time was moving fast. 

A river runs through it

The Angel and her kid.

Mt. Kosciuzsko (in the middle)

Heavy foot

Avalance (below is a lake)

Trail to Summit

If you look closely, 2 climbers  are on the right

Summit Marker

Summit Friends

     As I went down I met other hikers, who hired guides. A guide cost $100AU, thats the reason I didn't get one. Plus the fact that they started late so it dont match my itenary. I talked to the guide, bragging aside he was surprise that a tropical climber like me was able to summit without a guide and at a quick pace. Going down was much easier, other than ther is less assault, the trail can now be easily seen because of the number of climbers that went after me. Going down the chairlift added another great experience. You can see the whole village below. As I pick up the rest of my things, I saw that that bus was already there. And guess what, it was the same driver as yesterday. hehehe
Climbers going up after me.

The same climbers
The view going down is also mesmerizing

      I really thanked God I was able to do this climb. After a few days, I learned that not all locals climbed (or want to) Kosciouzsko during winter. As of this writing, the skin on face is having its second peeling due to intense sunburn. I told my american friend before I can't imagine climbing without trees, now I know, and its also beautiful. I am really against solo climb, but I have no choice for this one. It was more mentally tiring than physically.  Travelling home in the bus I rarely slept because of the mental strain. Even when I got home in the comfort of my bed. I remember Bear Gryllys (of man vs. wild) crying a few hours before his flight above everest using an untested flying craft. Pastour Imata also cried before his final assault to everest summit. I also felt the same uncertainty, specially the day before the climb. I was sometimes shivering, thinking what I got myself into. And also when the time I got lost. But I guess, thats what makes an adventure more rewarding. When you conquered adversities. 

October 8, 2011

Mt. Kosciuzsko (Preparation, Logistics and Travel)

 When I told an American friend about my Australia assignment during a family dinner. "Why dont you climb Kosciuzsko, its not that high but its one of the seven summits" - he told me. Its the first time I heard of this mountain, but it gave an idea on what adventure I can do in the land down under.
  Fast forward to mid-september, for two weeks I had been researching almost every night on how to go to Thredbo, a village right at the foot of Kozy (how the Australians calls Kosciouzsko). There are two ways to reach the summit, via Thredbo or Charllotte pass. I chose Thredbo for mainly two reasons, it can be reached by public transport during ski season and there is a backpackers lodge. I also checked if its possible to climb Kozy during early spring, since most Australians climb this mountain during summer. A date was also chosen, October 1-2 since, October 3 was a public holiday in NSW. I will have an additional day to rest. Since Ski season (winter) was almost over in Thredbo, only a few transportation regularly go there. I chose the one most convenient, cheapest (though its not cheap) and was okay for my chosen dates.
Below is the summary of my Itinerary
7:00 AM - ETD Sydney to Thredbo (Bus)
3:15 PM - ETA Thredbo
3:15 PM - LOdge in Hostel, roam around the village. prepare for next day.
6:00 AM - start of climb (not use the chairlift) 
12:00 NN -ETA summit
3:00 PM - ETA Express Chairlift to village
4:15 PM - ETD Thredbo to Sydney (Bus)

The Bus ride is via reservation, so I really need to be there on the time of departure, and only one bus travel each day. The last bus for the snow season was October 3. There is also a chairflift (Kosciuszko Express) from thredbo up to certain part of the mountain, this is a help for skiiers to be able to reach the snow easily.

  A week into the climb date I was monitoring the weather forecast. Eventhough its early spring, the weather had been bad in NSW, even in Thredbo. On the last minute, I had to adjust my climb schedule to October 2-3, since the weather forecast was better during this dates. Good thing the bus and lodge booking can easily be moved. 

  The travel from Sydney to Thredbo was approximately 7-8 hours (500KM approx), stopping only in Canberra. As we arrived in the village, the weather was worst than I expected. The mountain was full of clouds, and it was drizzzling hard along the road. The mountain trail has a 10 feet visibility. To make the situation worst, the driver told me there were no more bus travelling the next day (October 3), he was so -sure since he was the driver assigned for the snow season. But the customer service says otherwise. In any case I have no choice, I leave the worrying for tomorrow since my biggest concern was the climb. Arriving at the village, the temperature was Negative celcius.

Bad Weather

 One thing good was the lodge Manager (Nadia) was very kind. She helped me how to go around the village and anything she possibly can. She also help me in monitoring the weather forecast the next day. The forecast changed again, and was not good. 

Thanks Nadia

Dining and Living Room

Another view of the Mountain top
I visited Thredbo sports (rental) to check for the gear I need tomorrow. I plan to hire snow boots since my hiking shoes is not waterproof. They said I will also need snow shoes since there was fresh snow all week, problem was they open 8:00am, I decided to change my Itinerary and just take the chairlift going up. Snow shoes are also heavy that it was difficult hike carrying it (early part has no snow). 

Thredbo Map

I slept with a heavy heart worrying about tomorrow. I also prayed that a miracle would happen about the weather. 
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