Icicles - Blue Lake

Travis Easton

Boronia, Australia

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Artist's Description

Blue Lake is in Kosciuszko National Park and takes a day to ski to in winter from either Guthega or Charlottes Pass. The immediate area around Mt Kosciuszko was the only area on mainland Australia high enough to form glaciers in the last ice age. After the glaciers melted the hollows created by these masses of ice formed just four lakes of which the biggest one is Blue Lake. In winter it isn’t very blue of course freezing over completely. The first time I visited the lake was in summer so skiing across it in winter was at first surreal and despite myself slightly disconcerting. The cirque surrounding the lake also forms Australia’s only consistently used and accessable ice climbing area. There are a few areas like Federation Peak in Tassie which are theoretically fantastic for such endeavours but so difficult is access in winter that visits let alone ice climbing is virtually non existent.

I took this shot on my second winter trip there which I did by myself in 2003. Arriving early in the afternoon in white out conditions I decided some self education was in order and having just bought a snow shovel for this trip I thought I’d put it through its paces. As a matter of safety it is a standard part of kit for snow touring so you can dig yourself an emergency snow cave if conditions are too bad for a tent. Having never built a snow cave and not wanting to do so for the first time in an emergency I set to work. I found what I thought was a suitable place where the snow was deepest in the lee of a rise and set to work. After a few hours I was wet and cold but the proud creator of a very modest snow cave which I slept in that night. At dinner time it snowed for about ten minutes then abated.

Upon awaking the morning I checked the entrance and noticed I’d been snowed in. No problem I got my ski pole out poked an air hole through the snow and went back to sleep. Being used to the silent nature of snow falls I had expected to find a huge dump outside to have created my metre deep burying. After digging myself out I was staggered to see that my previous days footprints hadn’t even filled in with snow and upon contemplation realised that the tiny ten minute snow shower during the previous evenings dinner was all that had fallen. Inexperienced me however had dug my snow cave in the most dangerous spot imaginable, that is where the wind carried it into a drift. Luckily hardly any snow fell because if it had I might not have been around to tell my story.

Snow does breathe to a certain depth but once past that it is airtight as four unfortunate snow boarders found out the next year when they perished in a snow cave dug in the same area during a blizzard. Their bodies despite massive searches were not found until the spring thaw revealed them directly underneath where so many searchers had looked.

A beautiful but potentially unforgiving environment.

For other shots from this area check out my Kosciuszko gallery.

To check out other mountain photographs see my Mountains gallery.

10% of all profits go to the Wilderness Society

Artwork Comments

  • Peter Hill
  • Tony Middleton
  • Travis Easton
  • NICKY7
  • Travis Easton
  • LocoCow
  • avocet
  • LindaR
  • CMCphotoart
  • Mariann Kovats
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  • Antanas
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