Mystical Mountain Beauty

20 1110 Task Hannels Spur
Hikers Stephen Huang and Henriette Macri-Etienne embark on their adventure.

THE first commercial guided ascent of Hannels Spur has been completed employing the route explorer Paul Strzelecki used to discover Mt Kosciuszko (previously spelt Kosciusko) in 1840.

Hiking enthusiasts looking for something totally different will welcome the news the Hannels Spur trekking and snowshoe route on the spectacular western fall of the NSW Snowy Mountains has opened this winter with the first commercially-guided ascent from Geehi Flat to Thredbo by Keith Scott.

The Hannels Spur hike is unique in offering the greatest elevation gain of any walk in Australia and was opened for commercial trips by K7 Adventures, with environmental approval from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
During 2018 and 2019 clearing works of the track were undertaken by volunteers and the NPWS to allow the track to open after years of growth.

Outdoor adventurer Henriette Macri-Etienne and Stephen Huang having climbed from Geehi, the cleared area in the far distance. ALL PHOTOS: Keith Scott.

The track follows the route of Paul Strzelecki, James Macarthur and two Aboriginal guides, Charlie Tarra and “Jacky” from Welaregang Station, when Strzelecki ascended and named Mt Kosciuszko in 1840. It offers a great challenge for fit and adventurous walkers in both summer and winter.

It climbs through the full range of vegetation from the heavily forested slopes above the Geehi and Swampy Plain Rivers (450m in altitude) through sub-alpine and alpine tracts to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko (2228m).

The winter ascent took place at the end of August in perfect late winter conditions. K7 Adventures guide Keith Scott and clients Stephen Huang and Henriette Macri-Etienne carried snowshoes on their packs until reaching 1400m in altitude, strapping them on a little below Moiras Flat for the remainder of the three-day trip.

Henriette said she found a “mystical” beauty in the ascent of the western fall and thought it a “perfect” and committing challenge for hiking fanatics, including those with aspirations to try mountaineering.

“As a winter objective, Hannels Spur satisfied the mountaineering calling to get high on the biggest altitude gain in Australia, high on ecosystem diversity, high on history and cultural significance, high on forging future alpine dreams and high on the spirituality of the outdoors,” she told Snowy Mountains Magazine.
Henriette did, however, note that the track was a challenge, involving traversing some difficult terrain and, in winter at least, would have been difficult to follow without a guide.
“I remember feeling nervous: was I up for the challenge? I’m glad I took it, so grateful for the opportunity we had to step in the footsteps of Strzelecki and those who went with him.”

ROOM: Snow camping in the alpine.

JOURNEY: Snowshoeing on the roof of Australia.

The Hannels Spur route is a great objective at any time of the year, depending on hikers’ fitness levels, experience, and adventurous spirit. As summer approaches, snowshoes may be required into November and December, depending on the snow melt phase in the alpine.

The trek is not, however, to be underestimated. It winds its way up the western fall and across the Main Range through remote wilderness, and emergency gear (including clothing and an emergency beacon) and good navigation skills are essential, particularly as the weather can be changeable and white-out conditions can be encountered in the high alps.

Guided Tours
K7 Adventures will be operating guided treks of small groups on Hannels Spur from October 2020, through the summer and including next winter. Contact guide Keith Scott, keith@k7adventures.com or 0402 107 342, or book via www.K7Adventures.com or 0421 862 354.

VISTA: Climbing above the camp sit.