Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko can be found in southern NSW in the National Park of the same name. It rises 2,228 metres above sea level in the main range of the Snowy Mountains.
The Best Time to Climb
The peak and surrounding mountains are covered in snow from about June to October each year, however the snow has been known to fall earlier and hang around longer in recent years. This makes the best time of year to hike up to the mountains peak from December to March, when the weather is warmer and the snow has melted.
There is no protection from the elements on the climb so the first thing you need to ensure is that you have the correct gear.
A good hat that adds plenty of shade to both your face and neck is very important to protect you from the sun. Also a long sleeve top and long pants both made of breathable fabric. Remember you are most likely to get sun burnt in coldy conditions than sunny.
And don’t forget the sunscreen. Apply it before you head off and again throughout the climb as you start to sweat it off.
Because both climbs I mention below are at least a few hours long, make sure you pack enough food and water to last you more than the time of the walk. If conditions change suddenly and you are stuck on the mountain longer than anticipated, you will be thankful for the extra supplies.
It is always very important to check conditions before heading off. The weather on the mountain can change with a moments notice. Check weather forecasts and ensure you have clothing with you to protect against changing conditions.
Getting to the peak is easier than you would think, especially when comparing it to other highest peaks around the world. This is due to it being comparatively small in size. To understand just how small it is, Mt Kilimanjaro is 5,895 metres above sea level and Mt Everest is a massive 8,848 metres.
There are two ways you can climb Mt Kosciuszko. Both offer similar spectacular views of Kosciuszko National Park. Each can be completed easily in one day but will require a decent amount of physical fitness as they are both a steep climb most of the way.
Climb 1: Leaving from Thredbo
Distance: 13km return
Time: 4 to 5 hours
This is the most popular of the two walks and on a weekend when the weather is fine, it can get quite busy up there.
To get to the beginning of the climb you first need to take the Kosciuscko Express chairlift from Thredbo. The ride takes 15 minutes and rises 560 vertical metres. This is your first opportunity of many to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains of the Kosciuszko National Park and the stunning Thredbo Valley. Prices and hours for the chairlift can be found here.
Once you are off the chairlift the path to the summit is right there.
As you start to walk, the first main thing you will pass are the rocky granite outcrops of Ramshead Range. And if you are lucky enough to be doing the walk in spring you’ll be surrounded by a spectacular display of alpine wildflowers.
Be sure to stop at the lookout at Ramshead Range for some of the best views of the country’s highest mountain.
The track then crosses the headwaters of the Snowy River. This river runs 352km, draining the eastern slopes of the Snowy Mountains in NSW, before flowing through the Alpine National Park and the Snowy River National Park in Victoria and emptying into Bass Strait.
Next the climb takes you above Lake Cootapatamba which is the highest altitude lake in Australia at 2,048 metres about sea level.
From here you traverse Rawson Pass, where the old Kosciuszko Road, from Charlotte Pass, meets the metal walkway from Thredbo. Fun fact: It is home to highest public toilet in Australia. So maybe this is a good time for a toilet break!
The rest of the climb is gradual to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko.
Return along the track back to Thredbo.
Climb 2: Leaving from Charlotte Pass
Distance: 18.6km return
Time: 6 to 8 hours
This climb can be done either on foot or on a mountain bike.
Set out along the old road to Mt Kosciuszko. This road was closed to public vehicles in 1976 due to concerns about erosion. Believe it not, before that, you use to be able drive almost to the summit of the mountain.
Highlights of this walk/ride include historic huts, weathered snow gums and spectacular rock formations. Just like Climb 1, you get to admire wildflowers like marsh marigolds and silver snow daisies in spring.
Around 4.5 kms into the walk/ride you’ll encounter the Snowy River where you will find a scenic picnic spot, the perfect place to stop for a short rest.
Once you cross the river and continue your walk/ride the track winds up to Seaman’s Hut, built in 1929 following the death of two skiers, W. Laurie Seaman and Evan Hayes. Seaman’s family built the hut to provide shelter to future users of the park in order to prevent recurrence of a similar tragedy.
The path then joins up with Rawson Pass and the walk from Thredbo (Climb 1). If riding you will be required to leave your bike at Rawson Pass and walk the final 1.4 kms to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko.
Return to Charlotte Pass along the same track or for a change of (spectacular) scenery, take the Thredbo route to the chairlift.
At the Top
Both walks take you to the same spot at the summit.
Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with sweeping 360 degree views across the Snowy Mountains and Victorian High Country. Simply breathtaking!
I recommend spending a little while at the top to soak in the fresh alpine air, have a snack and some water to refuel for the walk back and enjoy the feeling of achievement at having climbed to the top of Australia’s highest mountain.
Where to Stay
You have lots of options for accommodation around the area. You can stay in Thredbo or Charlotte Pass to be near the start of the walks. Or the town of Jindabyne isn’t far away either and it will be a little cheaper than stay in the ski resorts.
Below are some links to a collection of accommodation in the area:
Alternatively, why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.
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Over to you!
Which Mt Kosciusko climb are you going to do?
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Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.