Aussie 10 Peaks Adventure

I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful country and a few weeks ago I got to spend over 10 hours climbing our 10 highest peaks with a wonderful bunch of trail runners.

My friend Dan and I drove down to Smiggins Holes on the Friday with a few pit stops on the way. When we left Sydney it was hot and sunny, but the closer we got to Mount Kosciusko National Park the more fog and cloud covered the sky. We had spots of rain on the way down and when we got out of the car to check out the area we realised we were not suitably dressed and decided to test out our new rain jackets.

We had a short wait till our mates arrived with the keys so we had a cheeky beer from my esky and then went exploring the area. Smidgins Holes is full of chalets that would ordinarily be packed in the winter time, but today it was like a ghost town, not another soul in sight. We wandered to the slopes and saw the chair lifts and ran into a kangaroo who looked at us like we were lost. Or maybe he was just hungry and looking for food.

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Eventually the rest of our crew arrived and we checked out the sleeping quarters at the Clancy Alpine Club, our lodgings for the next few days. I was sharing in Room #3 with 2 girls called Caroline and Kit (both I had never met) and our room had a bunk bed and an upstairs double bed, plus an ensuite. I decided that first in was first served, and scored the double bed for myself, usually I don’t fit into bunk beds due to my height so I was very happy with this!

There was a large communal kitchen with several fridges and cupboards for us to store our food. There were a few couches and a large open log fire to warm up next to (and we did). I got all my food unpacked and kept hydrated as much as possible, plus I had about 4 of my banana paleo cupcakes (carb loading, ha ha).

As everyone unpacked it was clear they were big drinkers! Everyone had brought a couple of bottles of (mostly) red wine and they were stacked above the fridges, I wish I had taken a photo as you would not have thought it was a healthy running group, ha ha. I had brought a bottle of wine but did not think i’d be able to finish it (and I didn’t in the end).

I chatted to Scott Enfield who was one of the founders of the Trailblazers Running Club which is situated on the Northern Beaches, and also David Bristow who had been the organiser of our adventure weekend. I met a lot of other smiley faces and everyone talked about the upcoming run with nerves and excitement.

One by one all of the runners turned up and those who arrived early watched the others carefully measure and pack all of their food, water & gear for the next days adventure. Many were nervous and not sure they would make the distance, myself included!

We got up early and left the chalet at 6.30am. We drove in car loads up to Charlotte’s Pass where we parked the cars, visited the loos and took some photos. It was quite cool, very foggy but we managed to start on time at 7.00am (apparently the first ever Trailblazers run to start on time).

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Charlottes Pass - Start

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We set off down the first trail, quite steep and a little slippery and before long we were crossing our first river (pictured below), that’s me one the left being a fool. I managed to keep my feet dry but a few of the runners decided to wade through the water instead of balancing on the rocks with the others. Tough!

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Photo Credit: David Bristow

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As we exited the river we headed up a steep hill and I was surprised to see small patches of snow on the mountains beside and around us, little did I know that around the next corner there would be rather large patches of snow AND we would be running through them! Below is Richard and I embarking on the first snow slope, who would have thought?! (not me)

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We followed the trail for a few kms and then took a sharp right towards the first peak, as instructed by our navigator David and packed up by our expert orienteer Brook ( who both I must thank for teaching me so much about reading maps that day). We were power walking most of this uphill section and before long we were having our first grelfie (group selfie, ha ha) shown below.

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Peak 1 – Mt Twynam 2,195m

Peak 1 - Mt Twynam

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We then headed back down the peak and were told that there would be a few extra (incidental) peaks along the way, and it didn’t take long until we hit one of those and posed for our next grelfie. Who says you need a selfie stick when you have a great camera and long arms like David! 😉

Peak 1b – 2,136m

Peak 1b - 2136m

Photo Credit: David Bristow

There was not much ‘trail’ on our journey that day, but lots of cross country hiking, climbing, power walking and the thick shrub was quite hard in sections, but lots of fun.

Peak 2 – Caruthers Peak 2,145m

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Scotty and I (above) on Caruthers Peak, such fun!

Peak 2 - Carruthers Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We had all been assigned a buddy for the day, which meant you had to keep an eye on that person to make sure they were eating enough & drinking enough etc. throughout the day. Dan was my buddy and he did a top job! Dan also got the whole crew doing a ‘squat’ at the top of each peak, it’s good for the legs he said as they can rest (even though some of us could not get all the way down to ground due to poor mobility). It got harder and harder to get back up as the day went on though, because the muscles were getting tighter and tighter (ouch!).

And we hit another incidental peak….

Peak 2b – Mt Lee

Peak 2b - Mt Lee

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Peak 3 – Mt Northcote 2,131m

Peak 3 - Mt Northcote

Photo Credit: David Bristow

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I won’t bore you with too much information, but there was a lot of walking involved, so don’t be fooled to think that we ran it all. I think we ran about 20% (if that).

Peak 3b – Muellers Peaks

Peak 3b - Muellers Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Peak 4 – Alice Rawson Peak 2,160m

Peak 4 - Alice Rawson Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

And climbing more snow, it was very slippery!!

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Peak 5 – Mt Townsend 2,209m

Peak 5 - Mt Townsend

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Peak 6 – Abbott Peak 2,145m

Peak 6 - Abbott Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

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And then we were headed for the highest peak in Australia, most of the group decided to run up this hill but I was trying to conserve energy and stuck with a few of the slower guys while we chatted up the mountain. You could not see the top as you climbed the trail up towards the top, around every corner youthought it would reveal itself but it just wasn’t there. And then it WAS there! And I could not believe the amount of people who were sitting around enjoying the view up there, it was amazing! They cheered us on and asked us what we were doing, several of them telling us we were crazy – what’s new?!

Peak 7 – Mt Kosciusko 2,228m

Peak 7 - Mt Kosciusko

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Here’s me standing on the highest point of Australia – woohoo!!

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We headed back down from Kosciusko on a high, running, and it was good to be moving fast again. We ran on trail for a portion, over some more snow and hit the Seamans hut where unfortunately Scott was having ITB issues and decided to head for the shortcut back to the finish. He was in a lot of pain so it seemed like a smart move.

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We continued along the trail and hit some metal boardwalks, there were signs that said ‘No Running’ which was a little frustrating, but it meant we could chat more and take in the view. And then some of the peaks were a lot more rocky and involved a lot more ‘climbing’ than expected, but it was lots of fun (did I mention that already?!).

Finally a bit of sun came out…!

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Peak 8 – North Rams Head 2,177m

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Peak 8 - North Ramshead

Photo Credit: David Bristow

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Drop it like a SQUAT! This one (below) is for you Dan – ha ha

Peak 9 – Rams Head 2,190m

Peak 9 - Ramshead

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We deviated off the trail one more time and headed up another steep incline, we were headed for the final peak and i couldn’t believe that I had made it. I was going to finish the Aussie 10 Peaks – how exciting!

Peak 10 – unnamed peak at Etheridge Ridge 2,180m

Peak 10 - Etheridge Ridge

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We climbed back down the hill towards the trail and it was a lovely (slight) downhill section all the way back to the cars at Charlotte’s Pass. I had been sticking with the ladies at the back of the pack to make sure they were okay, and I got to run some of this section. It felt so good to run again. I noticed that some of the girls were falling behind so i slowed to see how they were going and to help them along.

We re-grouped at the bridge crossing the Snowy River (pictured below) and had our photo taken by some trekkers from Canberra. We were so happy and excited to have made it and now we just had about 8km of trail to go.

Survivors

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We set off running again and my buddy had taken off, he was no good to me anymore (ha ha). I stuck with Kit who was alternating between running and walking, she looked like she could do with the company and I was happy to walk to the finish if she needed me to. We chatted and got to know each other as the time passed and the rain started to set in. We took longer than I had expected to get back to the cars, but were greeted with big smiles and hugs when we got there. We had done it!

Here’s the group celebrating our accomplishments with a victory dinner and (many) drinks, although most of us were in bed by 9.30pm (ha ha). So many laughs had, and many lasting friendships forged that weekend, it’s an experience I will treasure for many years to come.

the lodge

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Thank you to everyone who came and made it such an incredible weekend. Lisa for organising such awesome accommodation (and your wonderful Dad). David for having the idea and following it through, and dragging us kicking and screaming along (Not! ha ha), and also big thanks to my super buddy Dan! Thanks for looking after me 😀 😀

For more information about time and distance please refer to my Strava upload: https://www.strava.com/activities/433405416

Our wonderful organiser David Bristow also took some video footage with his GoPro, and he has complied a fantastic video (with great & appropriate music, ha ha). Check it out here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN4aX5sa8xc

Happy Running 😀

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