All of mainland Australia’s 2,000+ metre peaks are contained in a small area 40 km by 18 km in the Snowy Mountains in southern New South Wales. Before anybody draws my attention to it, I am purposefully ignoring Mount McClintock (3,490m) and Mount Menzies (3,355m) in the Australian Antarctic Territory as well as Mawson Peak (2,745m) on Heard Island in the Southern Indian Ocean. As an aside, Mawson Peak is one of Australia’s two active volcanoes.
The idea of climbing all the 2k peaks in one trip has appealed for some time. The real issue in planning my route is deciding what counts as a peak:
- Named peaks, I count 25 based on the the 25K maps but there are some issues
- All points 2,000m or more elevation, too many minor bumps
- Points with a prominence of more than x metres
I have come up with a list of 34 peaks made up of all named peaks and any unnamed peaks circled by at least two contour lines. I have climbed many of these peaks over the years but I discovered a couple that I was not aware of on the western side of Koscuiszko. While this whole process can be be seen as a pedantic exercise, it nicely filled in several winter evenings and planning trips is always fun. It was then a process of devising an enjoyable route to link the peaks together with good campsites at appropriate intervals. The speadsheet below shows the proposed trip with an early morning start at Perisher Valley or Charlottes Pass if starting around lunch time. I am hoping to spend 7 or 8 days completing the walk in the next few weeks.
A link to my excel spreadsheet https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5U_r0_vXSDwVG1fdVVLNnFheFk/view?usp=sharing
Apart from the first and last sections from Perisher to Koscuiszko Lookout and from Jagungal back to Perisher Valley the route would make a great component of the Australian Alps Walking Track.
The prominence of a peak is a measure of the height from the lowest contour line encircling it and no higher summit, to the summit of the peak. Wikipedia has a good write up of prominence and the issues in measuring it. Prominence is often used as a method of determining the status of peaks with many peak bagging systems having minimum prominence requirements such as the Corbetts and Grahams in Scotland but not the Munros.
In determining my list of peaks I set a prominence standard of needing to cross two 20 metre contours which represents an average prominence of 40 metres but could vary between 21 and 59 metres. This removed many minor bumps but retained most of the named peaks and others which I felt deserved to be included.
Issues with named peaks
Named peaks represent the European history of the area. I don’t know whether anybody has collected a list of peak names used by the aboriginal tribes that used the area and if they have can they accurately allocate them to the landscape elements. The Geographical Names Board of NSW is the formal recorder of names in NSW and these names, or lack of them, are what are shown on 1:25K topographic maps.
Some named peaks have very little prominence. If they were not named people would largely ignore them apart from the views they offer. The peaks on my list that fall into this category are Mount Stillwell, Alice Rawson Peak and Watsons Crags, the last two having magnificent views.
South Rams Head
What I know as South Rams Head (2080m, in centre of the image) is not a named peak. The name is applied to a small rise (1,951 m) further south on the ridge as it descends to the Murray River. My South Rams Head is the southernmost 2k peak with almost 100 metres of prominence and a large trig which goes unmarked on the maps.
Byatts Camp Peak
There is a locality near this peak called Byatts Camp but the peak commonly given this name is not formally named according to the Geographical Names Board of NSW.
Dicky Cooper Bogong
The altitude of this peak is often shown as just less than 2,000m but current maps have elevated it to 2,003 m so it needs to be included in the list. A worthy inclusion with great views.
Again a peak included in many lists but the name applies to the entire ridge not the highest point although this is often recognised.
While many of the unnamed peaks are crossed just by following the high ground between named peaks, there are a number that deserve to be included in any list. These include my version of South Rams Head mentioned above, a rocky peak with 100 m prominence SW of Koscuiszko which should offer great views down the western slopes and the high point on the Kerries Ridge.