SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Yesterday, I did the hike up Mt. Kosciusczko, at 2228 MASL the highest mountain in Australia and as such, arguably (and per the Bass List) one of the Seven Summits of the world. Although it was a very easy hike (my grandmother can do it), every mountain is special, and having come all the way from the Philippines to do it and having faced some unexpected challenges to get there, it turned out to be an exciting adventure.
Getting there proved to be an obstacle much more difficult than the hike itself. This is partly because we were doing the hike off-season and since it was also the school holidays, there was no way to get to Thredbo, the jump-off point. To the rescue was my Nepalese friend Surendra, and his buddy Pravash, who decided to join us and do the long drive to the Snowy Mountains. Joining me in Australia was my brother Jonathan – he’s not really into hiking but has done Kinabalu and some PH mountains – as well as my Mt. Elbrus teammates Jun Carnate, Koko Roura, and Cynthia Sy.
We stopped over at Canberra- a three-hour drive from downtown Sydney- spending the night there before proceeding to the Snowy Mountains the following day. We took a wrong turn and ended up taking all of five hours to reach Thredbo! Originally, we had planned to do a longer hike passing by Charlotte’s Pass, but since we were running late, we had no choice but to take the chairlift up the shortest route, which is already 1900 MASL and just 6.5 kilometres long.
By the time we started hiking, it was past 1400H. The hike was truly easy; the slopes were gentle and there was even a steel footpath for most of the way. But the scenery was beautiful! There is a feeling of vastness when you are in the Snowy Mountains, with endless mountains in all directions; but it is a subdued majesty, not like the dramatic heights of the Alps or the Himalayas. We are
After two hours the summit was already upon us, and I was raising the Philippine flag by 1607H. A stone altar marks the summit, with a tiny metal plate that inscribes it as Australia’s highest point. We all made it, and Surendra and Pravash unfurled the Nepalese flag, celebrating the Nepalese New Year, which coincided with our hike.
On the way back, with the chairlft closed, we descended all the way to Thredbo via Merrits Nature Trail, adding 4-5 kilometres to our day’s walk. So in total we did 17 kilometres. Even though we were trekking in the dark, at least we were able to somehow maximise the trip by having an extra two two hours of hiking.
Back in Thredbo, we drove to back to Sydney, this time taking the correct road. It was another epic drive, but several hours (and several kangaroo sightings later) we were back in the familiar environs of George St. in Sydney, where we are staying now. To put things in perspective, the distance between Sydney and Kosciuszcko is like Manila to Camarines Sur, so we were really thankful to Suren and Pravash for doing the drive. Of course, we could have driven ourselves but as in the UK, they drive here on the opposite side of the road so it’s complicated.
I am really happy that I was able to do Mt. Kosciusczko. It will surely give me inspiration to pursue the Seven Summits, well aware that there there is a very long road that lies ahead. But like the journey from Sydney to Kozzie, the journey is bound to be fascinating. There will certainly be kangaroos along the way.
AUSTRALIA 2014: MT. KOSCIUSZCKO + BLUE MOUNTAINS
Hiking matters #397: The hike up Mt. Kosciuszcko
Hiking matters #398: Blue Mountains 1 – Katoomba
Hiking matters #399: Blue Mountains 2 – Wentworth Falls