Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain of the mainland Australia, it is the easiest one of the elite Seven Summits, and it is also among the Ultra mountains.Mount Kosciuszko is 2228m high, it is located in New South Wales somewhere in the middle of the way between Melbourne and Sydney or at about 2,5 h drive from the capital Canberra. Mount Kosciuszko lies in Kosciuszko national park, a part of the Snowy Mountains mountain group (known informally as "The Snowies"), parent range are the Australian Alps, their parent range is the Great Dividing range, which is the fifth longest non-oceanic mountain range in the world, and it divides the Australian Outback from the Coastal Australia.The name of the mountain Kosciuszko is of Polish origin, nevertheless, the name is in Australia pronounced as (kɒsiˈʌskoʊ/ KOSS-ee-US-koh). Until 1997, the spelling of the name was Mount Kosciusko. The name Kosciuszko dates back to the first recorded ascent in 15 February 1840, when a Polish explorer Paweł Edmund Strzelecki reached the summit. He chose the name Kosciuszko, because the summit shape reminded him of the Kościuszko Mound in Kraków.Some sources still erroneously cite the Aboriginal name of the Mountain as Tar Gan Gil. However, this name was for the neighboring mountain Mount Townsend (a second highest mountain in the mainland Australia). Nevertheless, it is very likely that Aborigines reached the summit long before the modern age, probably more than (ten)thousands years before 1840 (Information panel, 2019), especially when taken into the account that the carbon dating of the bones indicate that the Australian continent was settled in 80,000 BC (Clarkson et al, 2018). The mountain is one of the Seven Summits, according to the first classification by Dick Bass, who was the first man to climb all Seven Summits. The second classification by Messner, however, replaced Kosciuszko with the Pucak Java (also Carstenz Pyramid), 4884m. Messner defines a continent in a broader way as a tectonic plate, which in the case of Australian continent includes also the Indonesian island Papua, with its higher Pucak Java mountain. Kosciuszko is most often accessed from two different stating points, i.e. Charlotte Pass and from the small village Thredbo, renown for skiing. In Thredbo, it is also possible to take a (Kosciuszko express) chairlift to the upper station, and thus gain approximately 550 meters of altitude.The mountain can be hiked in any season, but expect a snow cover from June to the beginning of December (see pictures in path descriptions from 7 December 2019, when some sections of the footpath were still under snow). Be cautious of the storms / lightning in the summertime. Dick Bass's ascent to the summit of Kosciuszko is described as "A walk in the park" (also a title of the chapter by (Bell, S.; 2006) where Kosciuszko hike was described). This is because the hike to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko is by far one of the easiest of the Seven summits. Viki Grošelj (a Slovenian mountaineer, who also completed the list) describes this as nothing more than a (very) pleasant hike and compares it with a renown Slovenian hike to Velika Planina (Grošelj, V.; 2018). The metal tracks, a case for wonder in 80s is unique even now, as they lead all the way 4,3 kilometers from the upper chairlift station to the Rawson pass. Camping is prohibited in the vicinity of lakes and near the summit, and mountain bikes are allowed only from Charlotte Pass to Rawson Pass at 2100 meters of altitude. A word of caution: there are many flies and they are quite a nuisance. Bring repellent or be a real Australian and find a tee tree bush before climbing a mountain (squash the leaves and put them on your backpack and / or your clothes). Have fun!
Literature and sources:
Bell, Steven (2006). Seven summits: The quest to reach the highest point on every continent. New York: Gramercy Books.
Grošelj, Viki (2018). Najvišji vrhovi celin. Buča d.o.o.
Information panel set at Rawson pass, as of 7 December 2019.
Norman, Kasih, Inglis, Josha, Clarkson, Chris, Faith, J. Tyler, Shulmeister, James and Harris, Daniel (2017). An early colonization pathway into northwest Australia 70-60,000 years ago. Quaternary Science Reviews 180 229-239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.11.023