Sweet, so you want to head into the Australian Backcountry? Kosciuszko National Park should definitely be on your bucket list – it has some of the best backcountry riding in Australia. Within Kosciuszko National Park you will find Club Lake, a popular area for snowboarders and skiers and a location that lets you earn your turns all the way into spring.
Time – Full Day – allow 8hrs (from Charlotte Pass)
Difficulty – 7 – Advanced snowboarders that are comfortable in all conditions.
Fitness Level – 7 – A solid day of hiking
Finding Club Lake…
There are a few ways getting to Club Lake and all options will depend on weather, how much time you have, the time of season, and also your capability. The most direct route is through Charlotte Pass which is a short drive from Perisher.
During the (winter) resort season the road will be closed so you will need to catch the Hans Oversnow (Hans) from the Perisher Valley Terminal, which will set you back about $105pp return. Keep in mind the winter season normally runs from the Queens Birthday long weekend in June through to the Labour Day long weekend in October.
If you’re heading out after the resort season has ended, be aware that you’ll have to park at Spencers Creek (between Perisher and Charlotte Pass) as the gate is locked until November. A bit frustrating, as it adds 45 minutes of walking up the road with your kit before you even hit the Main Range Track. Don’t forget to allow the same amount of time for the way back.
PSA: Hiding some beers in the snow for the walk back makes it a lot more enjoyable….
Getting Into Club Lake…
When you get to the top of the Charlotte Pass roundabout, you’ll find the entry to the Main Range Track. There’s a good chance the track will be covered in snow, so make sure you check your map before you set off.
As you follow the track, you will come to the Snowy River and Club Lake Creek, you want to cross here. Just make sure you remember to take off your boots and socks and roll up your pants! I have seen people try to cross in boots and it never works out. Embrace the ice cold water and use the raised rocks and your ski poles help keep you stable while you cross.
Once you have crossed, find a spot, take a break, eat, and get setup. Whether your splitboarding or snowshoeing; this is where the climb begins.
The best way up is straight up the southern ridgeline of Carruthers Peak. This will be a long slow incline and should get you to the top of Carruthers Peak within about two hours from the river crossing -depending on your fitness level.
If it’s your first time, stop and have a look at the face of Club lake and checkout the lines.
Riding Club Lake from Carruthers Peak…
The view from the top is surreal, it’s a great place to stop and have a break.
From the top of Carruthers Peak there are several lines into the bottom. And will greatly depend on the time of year and level of snow cover.
Staying ‘snowboarders right’ (Looking down from the peak of Carruthers) is a good run for the first of the day. And it keeps you away from the rock shutes you can see there. When you become comfortable on the face and terrain you can start exploring the other runs from there.
At the bottom there are two main ways out; hike out around Club Lake or take it step by step directly up, the time of year might dictate your decision.
Best times of the year…
No matter what time of year you go, always check the forecast. The weather in the alpine is always variable and can change in an instant. You are extremely exposed out there and safety should always take priority.
Club Lake is rideable from early in the season and generally holds enough snow to ride into November. Just do some research and see if you can find some photos of the season and how the snowpack is holding.
- Take someone with Kosciuszko experience.
- Don’t head out by yourself.
- Tell family and friends what you are doing, where you are going and how you have planned your trip.
- Checkout local guides and companies that run day tours in the backcountry.
- Pack plenty of water and checkout my guide on “what to pack for a day in the backcountry”. Use this a guide and if you think I have missed anything feel free to leave a comment.
Love to explore the Australian Backcountry? Leave a comment…