THE HOTEL KOSCIUSKOThe Hotel Kosciusko not only provided much more accommodation than was ever available at Kiandra, but also had much easier access. There were overnight trains to Cooma and then a couple of hours in service cars would often be sufficient to get visitors to the front door of the hotel (Photo 5).
|Horse-drawn sleds (Photo 6 & Photo 7) would be used over the last few kilometers of the journey following heavy snowfalls.
The Hotel Kosciusko (elevation 1550m) was located in gently undulating terrain that was ideal for ski touring. In the period 1909 – 1920, turning and stopping were mostly achieved by snowplow and stem turns. Groups like the KAC and Millions Club would block-book the hotel for a week and ski together (Photo 8).
The Plains of Heaven, located about one kilometer west of the hotel on the south-eastern slopes of Kerry View Hill (elevation 1777m), was a favourite ski area from where skiers could return to the hotel via the Grand Slam run, visible behind the hotel in Photo 4, which they usually schussed, because few skiers then could make linked turns on an Intermediate Standard ski run.
BETTS CAMP AND SKI TOURS TO THE KOSCIUSZKO SUMMIT
The NSW Tourist Bureau had anticipated that groups of skiers might want to venture along the Summit Road on skis and had built a new Betts Camp Hut beside the road in 1905 (Photo 9) to supplement the limited accommodation in the much smaller old Betts Camp Hut that had been built in 1898 on the bullock track to the Summit (Photo 11) and which later burnt down in the summer of 1928. There were also plans to build small shelter huts along the Summit Road, but these did not eventuate until the late 1920's and 1930's.
|Charles Kerry had led the first winter ascent of Mt Kosciuszko on skis, reaching the summit on 19 August 1897 from the Thredbo Valley. The first winter ascent via the Kosciusko Hotel and Betts Camp occurred on 17 July 1910. The members of this party are pictured in Photos 9 and 10. They are standing on the remains of Clement Wragge's weather station on the summit, which operated continuously from the Spring of 1897 to 1901. Note the shape of their ski tips, which are similar to those used at Kiandra. Also, they are holding Kiandra-type steering poles, not stocks.
|Other groups of skiers completed the journey from the Hotel Kosciusko to the Summit and return over the next three years, with overnight stops at Betts Camp. The new (1905) Betts Camp Hut provided accommodation and meals and was reasonably comfortable inside (Photo 12 shows the then Governor-General Lord Denman over-nighting there in 1912). It continued to provide additional accommodation after the Chalet Charlottes Pass was built.
As skiing technique improved from year to year, so also were the travel times reducing for the 34 mile (55km) round trip. In 1913 a trophy to be known as "The Summit of Australia Trophy" (Photo 13) was made available to the KAC to be a perpetual trophy engraved annually with the name of the skier having the fastest time recorded to the summit and return in one day for that year. In 1914, the first year that the summit race was run, the winning time was 15.5 hours. By 1927 the time was down to 8 hours and ten minutes (Dr Ashleigh Davey and Mr Arnold Moulden). One of the fastest times ever recorded was 6 hours and 90 seconds by Ken Breakspear (KAC Member and later an AAC Member as well) in 1938.
Many ski touring parties traveled each year to the summit at a more leisurely pace with overnight stops at Betts Camp.
Following the deaths of two skiers who were caught in a ferocious blizzard whilst undertaking this trip in 1928, a shelter hut now exists about 2km east-north-east of the summit.