Planet View: S36°30.156’ E148°18.525’
Street View: S36°30.156’ E148°18.525’
Abi and Will organized to meet us in Thredbo for a weekend at their favourite Lhotsky Apartments in the centre of the ski village. As with our visit to Mount Hotham in the Victorian High Country, I grew up skiing at Thredbo but had never visited during summer. It’s a beautiful place, winter or summer, the village with the crystal clear Thredbo River running through its centre and an array of activities to keep any outdoorsman occupied. The apartment that Will and Abi rented for the weekend was like a palace for us: wood-fired stove with plenty of wood, amazing sleeping quarters, TV, DVD, fantastic kitchen and a beautiful view of the ski resort. We arrived at the apartment mid-afternoon on Friday, making the trip up from Geehi Flat on the inland side of the mountains over the peaks and down into Thredbo Village. It was another beautiful mountain drive with some amazing views, although, as usual, The Tank wasn’t too keen on climbing up some of the steeper sections of the road in the thin mountain air.
We took things easy on Saturday, especially after I was allegedly a little generous with the red wine the night before, enjoying a bit of a sleep in and some of the scrumptious breads Will and Abi brought up from Canberra’s Silo Bakery. We did take an eight kilometer (five mile) walk through the alpine countryside, winding our way up alongside the Thredbo River to Dead Horse Gap. While the rest of the crew was taking an afternoon rest I returned to the Thredbo River to try my hand at hooking some of the local mountain trout, pulling out a few that were enjoyed by all as a late afternoon snack. There was one I hooked that had to have been the biggest trout I’ve ever seen, but just before I pulled him onto the bank he wriggled free. Yes, the monster that got away (deep sigh)… We also took a walk through the village to the Thredbo tennis courts, having a bit of a hit before hoeing into a delectable Will-and-Abi home made risotto for dinner.
The main aim of the four of us meeting in Thredbo was to hike to the top of Australia’s tallest peak: Mount Kosciuszko. Thredbo is the closest ski resort to Mount Kosciuszko, the top of the Eagles Nest chair only a short 6.5 kilometer (four mile) stretch from the peak. However, as the Eagles Nest chair operates in summer, our mountain guides (Will and Abi) strongly suggested we start hiking early in the morning to beat the crowds to the peak and have breakfast at the top of Australia. So at 5:20AM the four of us woke and began the steep walk through the forested slopes of Thredbo in pitch blackness, hiking up Merritts Nature Trail to the top of the Eagles Nest Chair with only our headlamps lighting the way. The sun rose when we were almost at the peak of the ski area, a brilliant feeling watching the sun come over the mountains and cover the alpine landscape in a warm, red glow. We were all feeling the alpine temperatures well after the sun was beating down on us, I had my beanie and three layers on almost to the peak of Kosciuszko!
Once at the top of Eagles Nest chairlift the trail flattens out, climbing only a few hundred meters over the next 6.5 kilometers (four miles) of trail to Kosciuszko’s peak. The high alpine bogs and swamps on the way to Kosciuszko from Thredbo are a fragile and delicate collection of flora, so the trail is made up of a raised metal grate boardwalk for most of the way. The grate was covered in a thin layer of frost until we were almost at Kosciuszko, making some of the small inclines a little slippery, but at the same time the frost-covered plants covering the plains were absolutely beautiful. The peak of Kosciuszko is unfortunately a bit of an uninteresting-looking bump on the horizon, not what one would expect of Australia’s highest peak, but it’s the highest point on the continent all the same. Quite a cool experience being at the highest point of earth for thousands and thousands of kilometers. Will had carried with him a thermos of hot coffee so we sat on top of Australia eating tuna wraps for breakfast, along with a hot cuppa and some dried fruit, leaving in the dark meant we had the whole peak to ourselves. It was a majestic view from up there, the Snowy Mountains stretching off into the distance as far as the eye could see and nothing but vivid blue sky all around, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. An awesome culmination to 11.5 kilometers (7.1 miles) and 987 metres (3238 feet) of climbing.
Lisa got the chills sitting on the icy granite at the top of Kosciuszko (understandably) so we started our walk down after taking in as much as we could of the views and clean mountain air. On our way back to the village Lisa and I were both very thankful for Abi and Will’s suggestion to begin hiking in the dark: we crossed paths with throngs of hikers at around 10:00AM, obviously the first group of people up the Eagles Nest chairlift when it opened at 9:00AM, thus cutting out the majority of the vertical gain between Thredbo village and Kosciuszko’s peak. Our original plan was to take the same route back to Thredbo village as we’d taken on the way up, but as we passed the top of Eagles Nest chairlift we all confidently walked onto the downward loading platform and, without a question from the lift operator, were whisked down the mountain for a free ride in style down the 572 meters (1877 feet) of steep vertical back to the village.
It was an awesome weekend, we had so much fun exploring the high country with Will and Abi, so generous of them to treat us to a weekend at Lhotsky, we’ll remember all their delicious meals and great company for some time to come!
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