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near Charlotte Pass, New South Wales (Australia)
There is some controversy on whether this summit is also the continental summit (and thus, one of the 7 summits) since Oceania/Australia highest point is the most controversial due to its complex political borders and number of islands.
In any case, the area around Mount Kosciuszko is a place in Australia with a very different feeling from the rest of the country. The Snowy Mountains, as they are called, have a glacial origin: cirques and glacial lakes are present in the area (we will see many of them) and the summits are above the treeline, covered in snow (except in summer) and we find granitic rocks. All in all, this alpine landscape reminded me of some places in the european Pyrenees (I recently discovered Australia has its own Pyrenees xD). Highly recommended a visit, independently on Mount Kosciuszko being the highest point.
The "summit trail" from the car park to the summit is quite boring, to be honest. A mostly flat and wide trail, very well (too much?) acconditioned. Then, I followed the "main range trail", which follows the ridgeline and passes near other summits, completing a nice loop. It is still very well marked and there is absolutely no way to get lost or out of track... Which is why I deviated from it in order to add some extra summits, just to get out of trail and add some mileage and elevation gain ;)
Mount Townsend is the one I enjoyed the most. First, I followed the ridge covered in snow to the top of Muellers Peak, quite crowded that day. Then, I scrambled through some rocky sections (avoidable if one descends to the path on the left side, but was fun). And a final ascent again in steep snow and some rock scrambling to the top of Townsend. On the descend, I followed a very visible path that does not pass again through the top of Muellers Peak. However, I was expecting it to connect with the ridge trail higher up, so in the end I had to reascend some meters.
Then, the next two peaks, Northcote and Lee, are avoidable. They do offer nice views, but the ridge trail passes close to them without summiting, all the way to Carruthers peak. Finally, Mt Twynam is a very long and endless deviation from the ridge trail. From the main trail it looks very close, like something that you would reach in 20min or so, but the path to the summit just keeps going and going, you never reach it, and is in fact quite a long way!
Note that the added summits are totally optional. If you only do Mt Kosciuszko and then follow the ridge track loop, you would do around 20km with 900m of elevation gain.
Also note that most people I saw doing the ridge track, do it in inverse order (otherwise, as I did, from the Threbdo river crossing at the very end, you have 100m of elevation gain to reach the car park...).
TOTAL TIME: 9h (good pace)
- Start to Kosciuszko following summit trail: 2h
- Mt Townsend deviation (optional): 2h
- Mt Twynam deviation (optional): 1h 30