Thought I’d post one of my rare shots from the other side of the lens. This campsite is at Lake Albina at the head of Lady Northcotes Canyon which is a days skiing away from Thredbo in Kosciuszko National Park, NSW.
When I got to Albina to my surprise I found a small patch of snow free ground which although extremely exposed to the weather I never the less decided to camp on. Avoiding the usual icy cold tent floor I thought would be worth the potential hazard of camping in such an exposed spot. The view was also incredible my Muellers Peak and Watsons Crag Sunset pictures being taken from this vantage point. As it turned out the weather that night was very mild (for the mountains).
The next night however was a different story with the wind picking up I thought I’d try and stick the campsite out by building a snow wall to protect the tent. I hadn’t built one of these before I’d just seen them in books and after a lengthy construction program I was fairly happy with my tent high, 5m long wall. I had dinner and retired to the tent upon which the wind just got stronger and stronger and stronger shaking the tent like a leaf and causing an enormous amount of noise as the nylon fluttered violently back and forth. After putting so much effort into building my wall I felt committed to sticking it out and didn’t think I’d find an area that would be much more sheltered than this anyway and besides that moving is an enormous hassle so I stayed put. This attitude of course simply prolonged the inevitable and finally at 1:30am I got sick of not sleeping because of my gyrating tent and decided to go to the effort of packing up all my gear and finding a more sheltered spot. When I got out of the tent I was staggered to see that the warm low land air (it didn’t feel real warm to me but the snow wall seemed to disagree), had completely melted my wall. All that was left was a few white remnants on the ground cover.
Going to the lee side of the knoll, a scant 200m from my former location I found a sheltered and windless spot on a steep slope, the wind was non existant, I couldn’t believe it. After about an hour digging a snow platform on the steep slope and setting up my tent and sleeping gear I finally flopped into bed quickly succumbing to the effects of the sandman.
The next morning was a complete white out so thick that shortly after donning my pack and skis I skied straight off a snow cliff oblivious to its existence until I found myself with my head buried in powder snow my heavy pack pushing it in further due to the fact that my feet were a few feet further up the slope.
Needless to say I was a little more careful after that. When I reached Rawsons Pass just below Mt Kosciuszko the wind was so strong that all I had to do to continue was spread my arm and let the wind blow me along at a good jogging pace.
From here on, the white-out conditions necessitated great care in navigating over this almost featureless expanse. It is quite bizarre to walk in daylight yet for the light to offer about as much help as a moonless night. In these conditions I seemed to loose all perspective on how far I’d traveled and in what direction I was going. I combined the twin errors of thinking I was going in a straight line, when I was in fact gradually following the few exposed boulders and the lie of the land through an arc of ninety degrees, with optimistic distance estimates; how far I wish I’d traveled as opposed to how far I had traveled. With this false data on my side I proceeded to interpret the lie of the land with the contours on my map in all sorts of wonderful ways making myself thoroughly confused in the process. Eventually however I sorted it out and found a few known landmarks eventually dropping below the cloud cover and descending the correct spur off the Ramshead Range down to Dead Horse Gap with an appropriately large blister from my (at the time) hired XC ski boots.
The cycle of mountain weather seems to always guarantee horrible conditions in payment for any good weather. The fine weather however results in some of the most sublime experiences a nature lover could desire, well worth the hardships required to enjoy them.
For other shots from this area check out my Kosciuszko gallery.
To check out other mountain photographs see my Mountains gallery.
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