SEAMAN'S HUT (Laurie Seaman Memorial Hut)
The deaths of Laurie Seaman (Photo 14, which was taken on the Kosciuszko Summit and Photo 17) and Evan Hayes (Photo 15) on 14 August 1928, were the first skiing fatalities in the history of the Australian Alps. As Hayes and Seaman approached the summit, other skiers in the area saw fog envelop the summit (shortly before 1pm) and reported the onset of blizzard conditions with gale force winds and minor amounts of sleet. The two skiers were not seen alive again, despite a very extensive search. The body of Laurie Seaman was found on 9 September 1928 in amongst rocks about 30m off the Summit Road about 2km east-north-east of the summit. This is close to the location where the memorial hut, financed by his parents, was subsequently built by the NSW Tourist Bureau in Autumn 1929. The body of Evan Hayes was found with his skis in early 1930, near Lake Cootapatamba, south-east of the summit pyramid.
Searchers reported that there was only one set of ski tracks on the summit although the photos recovered from Seaman's camera showed both men at the summit cairn. It seems that Hayes skied to the summit and Seaman walked up the final climb above Rawson Pass to the summit. After taking photographs of each other at the top, they apparently became separated. Seaman appears to have followed the snow pole line back to where his body was found and where he was apparently still waiting for Evan Hayes to return when he passed away.
The ski tracks seen by the searchers the next day, suggested that Hayes lost the pole line in the fog and was pushed off-course in a south-easterly direction towards Merritt's Lookout over-looking the Thredbo Valley, by gale force winds from the north-west. Hayes apparently realized his mistake and followed his ski tracks back to Rawson Pass where he seems to have missed the snow pole line once more in the fog and headed south, away from the Summit Road, rather than east. In the wild, blizzard conditions reported on that afternoon, such an error is understandable.
he ski tracks seen by the searchers the next day, suggested that Hayes lost the pole line in the fog and was pushed off-course in a south-easterly direction towards Merritt's Lookout over-looking the Thredbo Valley, by gale force winds from the north-west. Hayes apparently realized his mistake and followed his ski tracks back to Rawson Pass where he seems to have missed the snow pole line once more in the fog and headed south, away from the Summit Road, rather than east. In the wild, blizzard conditions reported on that afternoon, such an error is understandable.
|The Laurie Seaman Memorial Hut has saved the lives of countless people since it was built in 1929. Whilst the area looks serene in Photo 16, it can be lashed by violent storms, that can develop with very little warning. Gusts of wind can be so powerful, as to blow adults off their feet. The fog that often accompanies these storms, makes navigation very difficult. You may be pointing in the correct direction but the wind pushes you sideways off-course. The fog prevents you from realizing what is happening. Huts like Seaman's are a safe haven under such conditions, which may persist for several days.
OPENING THE CHALET AT CHARLOTTES PASS
As skiing standards improved in Australia and many skiers completed the trip to the summit, there was increasing demand to ski the challenging slopes of the Kosciusko Main Range. Skiers wanted a new base closer to the Main Range than Betts Camp and generally agreed that Charlottes Pass was the ideal location. Many ski-tourers and downhill skiers wanted to explore the rugged Western Faces of the Main Range (Photo 18). By 1927, the Ski Club of Australia had raised sufficient money to build a Chalet at Charlottes Pass and commenced negotiations with the NSW Government since the site was on Crown Land.
The initial building, set just below the tree-line (Photos 19 and 20), was constructed in 3 months and could accommodate approximately 40 guests. The accommodation was dormitory-style and Photo 21 shows the Men's Dormitory in 1930. It was understood that if Government operated it as a hotel, the number of beds would have to be increased to make it economically viable, and this happened over the following years. By 1935 the Chalet had more than doubled in size (Photo 22).
|The main building material used in the Chalet was timber and unfortunately it burnt down during the 1938 ski season on the night of August 8. The fire commenced near the boiler room and that part of the building was well alight before the fire was noticed. The building did not have access to sufficient water to stop the fire spreading and the entire building was engulfed in flames (Photo No. 23). The NSW Government replaced the building in time for the 1939 Ski Season. The replacement chalet is largely of masonry construction with adequate fire-fighting facilities. It did not have any 28 bed dormitories like its predecessor had contained and accommodation was mostly in 2 to 6 bedded rooms with en-suite facilities.
|The Chalet was the premier ski location in NSW and had a small ski school. The first Australian ski tow commenced operating in August 1937. It was a rope tow installed on the Cresta run at Mt Buffalo. The Chalet, Charlottes Pass then built a J-Bar lift which operated in the 1939 ski season and can be seen in the view of the rebuilt Chalet in Photo 24 and Photo 25. The new ski lift greatly increased the amount of downhill skiing that skiers could do in a day.