Pre Mount Kosciuszko Expedition

View from Mount Kosciuszko Summit (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

First thing I want to say is I wouldn’t really call a summit attempt of Mount Kosciuszko an expedition, but with the being said I wanted to keep my seven summits project titles consistent, so for this purpose where calling it an expedition. Its been about 4 and a half months since my successful summit of Aconcagua in Argentina (South America’s highest mountain), 11 months since my successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (Africa’s highest mountain) and a little over 12 months since my successful summit of Mount Elbrus in Russia (Europes highest mountain), it’s been a good 12 months! With that being said the four months since Aconcagua have been interesting to say the least. Even though my desire to complete the seven summits and love for the mountains has gotten stronger the planning of what’s next and getting back out there has been cautioned, because in these crazy COVID-19 times who knows when we’ll be able to travel internationally again. However there’s a shining light amongst the chaos and that’s Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. I originally considered leaving Mount Kosciuszko last on the seven summit list. I was planning to run up it during summer so I could combine my love for ultra and trail running with my seven summit ambitions. However plans have changed, new circumstances have arisen along with new opportunities. The climbing company I climbed Aconcagua with and plan on using to complete the rest of the seven summits (Climbing the Seven Summits (CTSS)) with have introduced an Aussie Mountaineering Skills course at Mount Kosciuszko National Park in conjunction with a winter ascent of Mount Kosciuszko. I’m in need to up-skill now I’ve completed the technically easy peaks on the list and I’m up to more serious glaciated peaks such as Denali, Vinson Massif and Mount Everest, so signing up for a skills course is essential. And with travel restrictions preventing me from being able to up-skill out of Australia what better opportunity to up-skill and tag another summit than with CTSS at home in Australia! If successful it’ll be 4 of the 7 (really 8) summits in 13 months and I’d level up my mountaineering skillset at the same time.

As I said the four moths since the successful summit of Aconcagua have been crazy but not just due to COVID-19. The past four months for me personally have been both challenging and rewarding for personal reasons. I really started to push my boundaries and come close to my bodies limits. I’ve been lucky enough to have had lots of opportunities to work and in an attempt to save as much money as possible for a potential Denali summit attempt June next year (not looking likely now) I accepted everything thrown my way. This in combination with me pushing my boundaries when it came to training eg. trying to run an ultramarathon or a marathon every week in conjunction with training 7 days a week led to me grinding myself into the ground. Working 12+ hours a day of physical labour and/or walking to deliver pamphlets, training daily, 4-6 hours sleep every night and a marathon or ultramarathon every weekend led me to getting overuse injuries, having anxiety and depression and after my second last marathon I immediately started getting a fever, loss of appetite and a level of fatigue I’d never experienced before. A week later my hamstring gave way and I had to walk the last 10km of my last marathon and that was when I admitted to myself that I was doing too much. I know this kind of training is possible but obviously my body isn’t quite ready for it. With that being said before I started breaking down I was ecstatic, I was earning more money than I ever had before, I was getting stronger in the weight room and faster on the trails. I’m starting to come out of the whole I dug myself now, two weeks later.

Sunrise from Mount Kosciuszko Summit (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

I’m super excited for the Mount Kosciuszko winter ascent and mountaineering skills course with CTSS. Im nervous about whether I’ll be allowed to travel to New South Wales and to Mount Kosciuszko National Park from Victoria at the moment due to what appears to be a second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria, but I’m remaining optimistic. I was so impressed with the CTSS guided climb of Aconcagua back in February, it was literally the trip of my life. Looking back it’s no exaggeration that trip was the highlight of my life and that was largely to due to CTSS’s logistics, the way they set up the trip and the guides they hired. This is why Im so excited for this upcoming trip. To be honest Mount Kosciuszko is the least exciting mountain on the seven summits list so it’s awesome that I can use it more as a way to improve my mountaineering skillset. It’s also great I’ll be meeting back up with some Aussie friends I met on Aconcagua and I’ll get to meet Mike Hamill, an accomplished mountain guide whom I look up to. My only concern about the trip is I won’t be physically or mentally pushed enough, theres no extreme altitude, and unless theres a severe storm the weather is pretty dull and summit day is nothing like a summit day on bigger mountains. But I guess on the flip side of that I’ll be able to focus more on improving my skill base which in the long run is more important.

Trip Itinerary

  • 16th July: Meet in the afternoon @ Jindabyne for gear checks
  • 17th July: Meet in the morning at Guthega carpark to begin Australian Alpine Academy (skills course)
    • Training: Intro to Expedition Camping, set up camp
    • Training: Sled Rigging & Packing
  • 18th July: Australian Alpine Academy
    • Training: Crampon technique
    • Training: Self-arrest
    • Training: Climbing efficiency
    • Training: Knots & Hitches
    • Training: Glacier travel with sleds
  • 19th July: Australian Alpine Academy
    • Snow anchors and running protection
    • Fixed line ascension
    • Ice climbing (condition dependant)
    • Rapelling
  • 20th July: Australian Alpine Academy in the morning before returning to Guthega in the afternoon
    • Crevasse Rescue
  • 21st July: Rest day @ Jindabyne
  • 22nd July: Meet in the afternoon @ Jindabyne for gear checks
  • 23rd July: Meet in the morning at Guthega carpark to begin Mount Kosciuszko Climb Course
    • Training: Intro to Expedition Camping, set up camp
    • Training: Sled Rigging & Packing
  • 24th July: Mount Kosciuszko Climb Course
    • Crampon technique
    • Self-arrest
    • Climbing efficiency
    • Knots & Hitches
    • Glacier travel with sleds whilst moving to High Camp
  • 25th July: Mount Kosciuszko
    • Summit Mount Kosciuszko
  • 26th July: Mount Kosciuszko Climb Course in the morning before returning to Guthega in the afternoon
    • Ice climbing
    • Rapelling

In summary I’m super excited to be heading over to Mount Kosciuszko National Park however it’s not really for the summit of Mount Kosciuszko itself. Sure tagging the summit will give me 4 out of the 7 seven summits but what really excites me is just getting out to the mountains, being part of another CTSS trip, learning new skills and meeting back up with friends I made from Aconcagua as well as hopefully making some new friends. Something COVID-19 has taught me is I really got to appreciate the mountains more whether it be mountaineering or trail running. The past 4 months without the mountains has honesty made me feel like I’ve lost myself and life feels overcomplicated, so I’m looking forward to getting back and re-finding myself.

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