On November 5, your ArmaSkin News editor joined a couple of ArmaSkin Ambassadors, Alaina and Aditya, together with their two young children (6mo and 3yo) on a hike from Thredbo to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak.
Aditya and Alaina had travelled from California to summit Mt Kosciuszko as part of their challenge to summit the highest peak in each of the seven continents.
The weather was favourable, 1-10 C, mainly cloudy, light winds and only late in the day a little rain.
To set the scene, Mt Kosciuszko is in a National Park. In this area public toilets and sections of raised track are provided to ensure the natural vegetation is not disturbed.
Thredbo itself, is above all set up as a village for winter skiing. Accommodation is varied but largely includes chalets with relatively small rooms. Without skiers though, many accommodations and shops are closed and importantly as it happened while we were there the chair lifts were not operating. Also, some mid hike toilets were closed.
According to Trail Hiking Australia, this is a 7-8 hour round trip hike.
It comprised two elements. The first was the Merritts Meadow Trail. This is a short 3 km (one way) classified as grade 4. Being a trail towards the summit it is predominantly uphill! It comprised a number of sections with dirt and timber trails and steps. The lower trail was fairly well marked however we were referring to the trail map often to help confirm our progress. The chances of becoming lost are minimal due to the prominence of chair lifts.
If running, a chair lift could easily dispense with the Merritt Trail leg.
Once we reached the Eagles Nest Restaurant (not open off season) which is also the endpoint for a chairlift, this marked the start of second section of the hike.
This is a much milder grade 3 hike with the trails, sometimes paved, other times over steel mesh pathways thus being very clearly marked.
While it no doubt varies with prevailing conditions, on 5 November, most of the snow coverage of the mountain had disappeared. Only at a few sections did we need to carefully traverse snow covered slopes.
Covering the 7 km to the summit gives the chance to admire the adjoining mountain vistas.
As a not so experienced hiker, I was pleased to be led the way by Alaina and Aditya who are experienced hikers and climbers. They provided basic tips for proceeding across the snow, and set a solid pace, punctuated by timely breaks.
Upon reaching the summit there is clear marking of the peak and a great opportunity for photos.
Completing the hike was relatively straightforward although on the return leg down Merritts Trail we occasionally took a service road rather than re-enter the bush trail. This made navigation easier and was likely a slight time saver. The gravel on the steep road though required careful steps.
Alaina and Aditya proved that the hike could accommodate a family noting that making proper preparations for warm clothing, food and rest breaks is a must.
Prepare for the Merritts Trail with full pack, steep hill training. (After a couple of weeks of training in new hiking shoes the steep hill work resulted in my insoles coming loose, a lucky fix prior to the real hike.)
Hiking poles were a great effort saver as well as added security during the snow crossings and steep descents.
If you are contemplating carrying a pack or a baby on your chest, navigating down hills and steps can be a challenge if you can't see where to plant your foot.
Even Meteye's forecasts were not absolutely accurate on the day of the hike. So taking cold and wet weather clothing options is advised. But if you can slot your hike into a period of clear skies you will be rewarded.
As usual, sunscreen is a must.
and of course make sure you wear ArmaSkin liner socks to avoid blisters. Use code MountK for a December 2023 discount of 20%.