We were both awake well before 6.30am, and, keen to get going, we scoffed down breakfast and coffee before heading up to Charlotte Pass to hopefully reach Mt Kosciuszko. There are two ways of getting there, one from Thredbo and going up the chairlift, and the other following a service road up from Charlotte Pass, the shorter and cheaper of the two routes.
We got as far up as we could by road, and were on the track a bit after 9am. The weather report from the night before indicated snow and wind in the afternoon, hence why we got going early. It turned out that snowshoes are remarkably light and require very little change in gait or movement, and barely showed any indication of tripping us up, however ungainly they look.
The track, although snowed under, was easy to follow, with skidoo and quad bike tracks showing the way, and tall markers positioned about every 50m and good visibility. It was nice and flat with just a gentle uphill gradient, so that also helped get a good rhythm going. We set a good pace at first, until the weather started setting in, with a bit of a headwind creeping up to 30+km/hr and visibility dropping to being only just able to see the next marker pole ahead. The definition of the vehicle tracks also became more difficult. A few niggling hurts started to show themselves, we both were getting sore hips and standing still for any length of time didn't take long for the chill to seep through.
After a couple of km walking, we had just gone past the Snowy River crossing when 3 police on skidoos stopped to talk to us. Apparently a Korean fellow had been a week overdue in dropping his hire car back, and had been last known to be in the area - had we seen him. We had only seen one other person on the track who left about 10 minutes before us, a motorbike ride dressed in his bike leathers who said he'd go as far up as he could.
About half an hour later two NPWS rangers on a quad bike stopped to see how we were going, they were also on the search for the missing man. We continued on, much slower than previously, until we stopped and contemplated whether or not to continue, as our current pace would mean we would not get back to the car until late afternoon. The weather conditions were pretty ordinary too. We consulted the GPS to discover that Seaman's Hut only appeared to be a couple of hundred metres away, so that gave us renewed energy to make that and then decide what to do from there after a break out of the cold and wind, and fuelling up.
The cops were just leaving there to continue the search, and the two rangers were on CB radio back to base advising of their movements. Before the cops left they said they had gone close to the summit but had turned back as the weather conditions were worse. We figured if they had turned back while on skidoo, there was little point in us continuing further, and the decision came as a welcome relief. Another 3km each way seemed like a tall order, but reaching the hut was a bit of a milestone in itself we were happy with.
Whilst out of the wind, the hut was still pretty cold, and not moving the cold was starting to have an effect on us, so we bade the NPWS guys farewell. The combination of a bit of food, energy drink and disgusting tasting energy gel with a Voltaren chaser, plus the knowledge we were on the home stretch and downhill most of the way, meant we made good time back to the car. The cops on skidoo passed us again, then we passed them stopped at the Snowy River, then shortly after a big group of 7 cops on foot passed us about 2km from the start of the track. All looking for this fellow that, if he was in the mountains for a week, is highly likely not to be found until after winter.
The last kilometre back to the car was a tough one, the Voltaren was wearing off and hips and ankles were very sore. But by 2.45pm, we made it, and those hurts started to become a dim memory. We went back to Jindabyne to drop off the hire gear, and heard the missing man may in fact have been Canadian, and the story was all over the news.
We went back to camp, had some lovely long hot showers, set another load of washing on for our last night before heading off closer to Wagga to pick the boys up on Wednesday. We have thoroughly enjoyed a whole campsite to ourselves, and the weather, while cold, has been superb, with barely any wind overnight and no rain except for the first night. Hopefully we will get a dry pack up in the morning.