A New Years adventure to climb Mount Kosciusko with kids
After venturing to Thredbo for a number of fun filled summer escapes we hadn’t managed to complete the Kosciusko summit walk with the kids due to a combination of poor weather and lack of time. But when we woke up to discover a cloudless blue sky we were excited that our NYE adventure to walk to the peak of Australia’s highest mountain was going to happen.
We headed off bright and early to be one of the first families onto Kosciusko Express Chairlift which very kindly transports you up the steepest part and makes the Kosciusko climb accessible and achievable even for young families. You can opt to walk from Thredbo village if you don’t mind an extra hour and a half of very steep climbing.
Our girls are now aged 5 and 7 and have done lots of hiking and walking so I was confident that they could make the distance however we did lots of motivating and psyching up to get them prepared for the distance they were going to cover. For little legs we knew that 13 kilometres (return distance from the chairlift to the summit) was going to require some positive psychology.
Most of the walk is on metal grid walkways to conserve the ecology and minimise any degradation so the walking is pretty easy and of course navigating is extremely straightforward. The first 3 kilometres I would say is potentially the most taxing for young kids with a couple of long and steady climbs. You will find though that many kids are faring better with the altitude and distance than many adults who we passed that were struggling with a sudden onslaught of physical activity that they are not used to.
The mountain scenery is very distinct to the Australian alps with windswept open plains and rocky outcrops, and in December a pretty smattering of wildflowers blanket the grasses for added visual effect. If you are lucky, in the middle of summer you can still pass spots of snow close to the trail where the kids can have fun rolling snowballs to launch at parents. Overall the climb itself is long and consistent and with some coaxing and positive reinforcement I would say achievable for most children aged 5 years and older depending on the temperament of your kids. We did pull out some enticing bribery (chocolate and other snacks!) to get the youngest one up the final one kilometre section of the climb.
We were very fortunate to reach the summit at a moment in the day which afforded 360 degree views in all directions with crystal clear skies. After some big high fives for the kids, and a stop for a photo at the highest point, we ventured out to some quiet rocks to take in the expansive views with an early vegemite sandwich lunch. The kids found it enthralling to watch a nearby helicopter fly past that was lower than where we were sitting.
Starting the descent it feels like a long way back with two young kids who are starting to really tire however the good news is that the walk back happens extremely quickly in comparison to the climb up and before you know it the chairlift station appears in the distance. True to form for mountain weather it was starting to close in with clouds encompassing the summit as we circled back around the base of the trail and super chilly winds were starting to blast the people still heading up.
All up the whole walk took us pretty much spot on four hours which was taking it pretty easy on the climb up with lots of short stops and a play in the snow. No doubt without kids this walk can be done much more quickly but we set a reasonably easy pace to complete the walk in this time.
I highly recommend this walk for families as it I such an iconic and well-trodden trail that it really is enjoyable for all ages. Your kids will get a real kick out of making it to the top and will be itching to tell their school friends about their adventures.
If you love mountain adventures as much as us make sure you check out mu full article on all the fabulous things to do in Thredbo over the summertime.
Family Friendly Suggestions for Climbing Mt Kosciusko:
When to Climb
The climb up Mount Kosciusko particularly along the Thredbo chairlift route is super popular and as such is a well-marked and very busy trail. To be completely honest walking up on NYE right in the middle of the busiest part of the summer season was the only drawback to our experience. This is because there were literally hundreds of people all with the same ideas as us!
The trail was crawling with groups which made it a little hard sometimes to really enjoy the pristine natural environment or to experience any silence or sheer wilderness. If you have the luxury of being picky with your dates, outside of school holidays would be a more relaxed time to walk up Kosciusko. The other alternate is to walk up from Charlottes Pass which adds a few extra kilometres but steers you away from many of the crowds.
Kosciusko Weather – what to wear
As with any mountain environment the weather can change super quickly on Kosciusko. At the beginning of our walk we were in tshirts and were quite warm but by the time we reached the summit the wind had picked up and the chill had set in. The most sensible clothing option for Kosciusko is to wear layers. Cater for all weather conditions but basically a pair of long pants with a tshirt, jumper and coat will cover you for the summer conditions up on Kosciusko. Like us you will no doubt wear every variation of these layers throughout the walk.
Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, closed shoes. No real need for proper hiking shoes but runners will do the trick.
What to pack for Kosciusko
A simple day backpack is suffice for the climb with key supplies including sunscreen as the UV is extreme at the higher altitudes, a hat, potentially a beanie if the weather isn’t particularly sunny, snacks or lunch and a camera. There is no water supply on the walk so you will need to carry enough water for the number of people in your group for at least a 4-6 hour period.
If completing the walk with kids it is worth making sure you have some basic first aid supplies such as bandaids as the metal grid paths can definitely take off skin if there are any trips along the way.
There is only one toilet along the walk which is located at Rawsons Pass which is 1 kilometre from the summit. No running water here either but hand sanitiser is provided.
The Kosciusko Express chairlift for a family of four will set you back $72 and operates in peak summer periods between 8.30am and 5.00pm. There is also a Kosciusko National Park entry fee which at the time of writing this article costs $17 per day for a car.
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