Paddy Aicken and his crew of vagabonding misfits – The Grateful Cyclists – aren’t shy of a challenge or two (cycle touring through Tasmania and accosting Dutch peddlers are testament to this).
Glistening fields of snow, icy cornices hundreds of metres long, running off the peak of Australia’s tallest mountain, camping on snow with mountains and granite the only things in sight and walking across the snow river – this weekend was excellent in a way that I can only struggle to describe.
Best Laid Plans
Early on Saturday, I awoke to the dulcet tones of my alarm. The early morning gremlins tried to convince me that after water bottle leaks, missing gear and generally shambolic packing methods the night before – going snowshoeing for the weekend wasn’t a good idea. Luckily common sense vacated the area and I picked up my gear and waited patiently for my lift to arrive. Nicole, Ellen and I were heading up into the backcountry near Mt Kosciusko to explore the snowfields before they melted and hiking started to resemble hard work.
Tumbling into the car I resumed my stupor until coffee made its way into my bloodstream somewhere just before Thredbo. After much consultation on the various merits of thermals, ski pants, shorts and over pants, our little gang was permitted upon the suspended skyward chariots that form the Kosciusko Express and found ourselves deposited at Thredbo Top station with almost as much ceremony as the unveiling of my goggles.
Hike, Eat, Repeat
From there we marched upwards, not that we walked for more than the 35 minutes. Why 35 minutes? Lunch! This walk was to become the sort of adventure I love where food takes priority over walking.
As we regained our body temperature after a long break, we made our way through the pass and saw our first goal in the distance, the precipit-less Mt Kosciusko. The peak itself is not deserving of the term, but it put on a great display with a massive cornice and spectacular ice formations on the summit.
On the peak, we were told that the trail we’d intended taking towards Seamans Hut was getting a bit sloppy as the late-season snow started to melt. This advice turned out to be the best we could have received as we turned away from the snow poles and up onto the ridgeline where few other people had recently been. Away from the touristy tracks, the snow was crisp and clear and before long we found ourselves a campsite on the ridge too good to pass up.
We set up our tents, gawked at the astounding beauty of the location we were to call home for the night and before long found ourselves waist-deep in the snow with shovels and saws in an impromptu igloo making lesson before retiring very early to bed.
The morning brought even more outdoor bliss as the clear blue skies continued and the chilly temperatures overnight had refrozen all the snow that had started to melt the night before. So, after a morning so luxurious we almost forgot we had to go anywhere, we traipsed down the off the ridge and across the snowy river (we assume, it wasn’t quite clear where it was) and up a hill. A big hill. Up onto the Ramshead Range. We had lunch on a hill and then made our way back to Thredbo circuitously along the flattest but possibly least direct route available.
Snowy adventures for all…