Touring Destinations – Charlotte’s Pass
Charlotte’s Pass can only be reached by ski or over snow vehicle during winter, but once the Kosciuszko Road is cleared of snow in early October it becomes the primary starting point for spring skiing on the Main Range. These are some of the more popular ski tours starting from Charlotte’s Pass.
From the Charlotte Pass turning circle follow the pole line south along the summit road. This is a mostly flat ski, traversing the western slopes of Kangaroo Ridge high above the Snowy River. After 4.5km the Snowy River is crossed at Snowy Bridge. From here the climb begins to Seamans Hut before continuing to Rawsons Pass, which sits just below the summit of Mt Kosciuszko. The return trip to Mt Kosciuszko is approx. 18km. There is often some walking involved along the road in late spring.
Mt Stilwell / Kangaroo Ridge
From the Charlotte Pass turning circle climb a short distance through trees to reach the ridge which is then followed past the ruins of an old ski lift and the top of the Kangaroo Ridge T-chairlift and lookout platform before climbing up the open slope to Mt Stilwell. The trig point on Mt Stilwell at 2040m provides great views of the Main Range. From here a pole line heads east past the old Stilwell Restaurant Ruin then continues in a loop down the picturesque Wrights Creek valley back to The Chalet.
Kangaroo Ridge continues south from Mt Stilwell for a few kilometres before descending towards Merritts Creek and Snowy Bridge. This area holds the snow much later than on the western facing Summit Road and is a good alternative when the snow has disappeared elsewhere.
One of the best Main Range ski tours is from Charlotte Pass to Carruthers Peak. From the turning circle there is a long descent along the walking track down to the Snowy River. The Snowy River and Club Creek then have to be crossed, which means wet and icy-cold feet. Rubber diving boots are very worthwhile! Once across the river it is a 4km ski to reach the top of Carruthers Peak, with the climbing getting gradually steeper along the way.
The views from the top of Carruthers Peak are stupendous, with the Sentinel and Club Lake immediately below, and views of Victoria, Mt Kosciuszko and the Main Range beyond. From here one can continue further along the Main Range or ski back to the river. The return ski back to the river is a non-stop 4km downhill run. Later in the season there is always a large snowdrift which usually has snow from the bottom of Carruthers all the way to the river. The river level often rises during the day in sunny weather. Once crossed, there is a long climb up the track back to the cars.
Blue Lake is the largest glacial lake in Australia, and another popular ski destination. From the river, follow the route of the walking track across the lower slopes of Carruthers Peak, down into Soil Conservation Creek, then up to the saddle overlooking the lake before skiing down to the lake. The lake can also be reached from the east via Hedley Tarn or from Guthega. The lake is usually covered by ice until late October or early November. The rocky cliffs surrounding the lake are a popular ice climbing destination in winter.
Just to the north of the lake are Mt Twynam, the 3rd highest peak in Australia, and Little Twynam. A great way to reach the lake from Mt Twynam is to ski down the large halfpipe shaped valley which is located above and behind the lake.
Watsons Crags is the ridge which extends west from near Mt Twynam and overlooking the Geehi Valley. It contains steep slopes, a large cornice, and spectacular views. From Charlotte Pass cross the river, ski past the turnoff to Blue Lake and continue climbing to the top of the Main Range close to the Sentinel, before heading past the steep slopes above Strezlecki Creek to the start of the Crags.
A short climb to the highest point provides great views of the ridge, cornice, and Geehi Valley. The first part of the ridge provides flat skiing but to reach the furthest point involves a big descent and more climbing, but the views from the far end of the ridge are definitely worth it.
Kunama Valley / Club Lake
An easier ski trip in the area that doesn’t involve as much climbing is to explore the large valley enclosed by Mt Clarke, Mt Northcote, Mt Lee and Carruthers Peak. From the river crossing ski across the lower slopes of Carruthers Peak and descend to the valley close to Club Creek. The small knolls and valleys near Club Creek and towards Mt Lee provide interesting skiing terrain.
Just below the slopes of Mt Clarke are the ruins of Kunama Hut, destroyed by an avalanche in July 1956. There is a memorial plaque to Roslyn Welche who was killed at the time. After visiting the ruins, ski from here across the lower slopes of Mt Lee and climb up to Club Lake, nestled in an ampitheatre below the slopes and chutes of Carruthers Peak. This lake is normally ice covered into November.
The valley below Club Lake is a popular snow camping destination in spring, being a fairly short ski in, and surrounded by great snow slopes.
Little Austria / Lake Albina
Little Austria is a steep valley between Carruthers Peak and Lady Northcote Canyon. It can be reached by continuing south along the Main Range walking track from Carruthers Peak. Starting to the west of Mt Lee, the slopes of Little Austria drop away into a steep halfpipe like valley which heads down into Lady Northcote Canyon.
Nearby Lake Albina is another picturesque glacial lake nestled below Alice Rawson Peak and Mt Northcote. The Albina Hut was removed from here in 1982. From Lake Albina one can return to Charlotte Pass via the upper Snowy River Valley or across the tops of Mt Northcote and Mt Clarke.
This tour goes from the Snowy River crossing below Charlotte Pass along the banks of the Snowy River to the upper reaches of the river below Mt Kosciuszko. Cross the Snowy River then start skiing along the banks of the river past the Foremans Crossing chimney towards Mt Clarke. In spring the banks of snow rising above the river are quite spectacular. The route goes past some waterfalls then skirts around the lower slopes of Mt Clarke before opening out into the broad valley below Mt Kosciuszko and Muellers Pass. Return the same way or climb the slope towards Seamans Hut and return via Snowy Bridge and the summit road or Kangaroo Ridge.