20 July 2022

Adventurer reprises alpine odyssey for a good cause

| Edwina Mason
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Man standing on alpine precipice

“Back in 1997 when I first traversed the Australian Alps in winter, I didn’t see another soul for the first 18 days from Mt Baw Baw.” July 29 is the date Huw Kingston has set to begin his Alpine Odyssey. Photo: Huw Kingston.

Adventurer Huw Kingston is now down to days until he takes the first step of a 700-km mid-winter trek across Australia’s highest peaks.

July 29 is the kick off date set for the 59-year-old’s 50-day winter Alpine Odyssey, which will take him straight through the guts of the icy alpine regions of Victoria, NSW and ACT.

But for the moment, he’s not so much knee-deep in snow as provisions.

“Ah the madness of the weeks before a major expedition,” Huw said.

Surrounded in his NSW Snowy Mountains home by piles of equipment, food and other supplies, he’s keen to get started.

“But, as always, there’s a tinge of nervousness and excitement as to what lies ahead,” he said.

He may have a slight idea, given he’s been there before.

READ ALSO Huw’s 50-day alpine odyssey a ‘journey about passion’

This time there are a few tweaks. For starters, he’s ditching the kayak and the bike in favour of skis.

And there’ll be some company, some of the time.

“Various ski friends are keen to join me along the way and while this will happen in the less remote sections such as the Main Range of the Snowies in NSW, I’m keen to be solo for particularly the first weeks in Victoria,” Huw said.

Sliding off with a cross country ski at Victoria’s Lake Mountain resort, up above Marysville, the Taungurung traditional owners plan to send Huw on his way with a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country.

Huw will navigate some of the most rugged country in Australia, diverting to ski resorts at Lake Mountain, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Stirling, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Dinner Plain, Falls Creek, Mt Buffalo, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, Perisher and, finally, Selwyn, which is still rebuilding after being destroyed by the 2019/21 Black Summer bushfires.

“Back in 1997 when I first traversed the Australian Alps in winter, I didn’t see another soul for the first 18 days from Mt Baw Baw,” Huw said.

“I’m keen to compare that tough section both physically and mentally again in 2022.

“Certainly when I ski the resorts, I’ll be joined by friends, resort staff and others.

“It’ll certainly be an interesting contrast, moving from the wilderness and my tent to a warm bed and a hot shower in the different resorts,” Huw said.

Man next to a tent in the snow

Testing out his equipment on Main Range in the Snowy Mountains at the weekend, Huw Kingston is in the final stages of prep for his epic trek across the Australian Alps. Photo: Huw Kingston.

Food drops are in place and physically he’s good to go.

“I keep a good level of fitness generally and when I get going, I’m like an old diesel engine just chugging slowly along for as long as it takes,” he said.

“Whilst I don’t generally feel vastly different at 59 than 34, the reality is I am a quarter of a century older and the maths might tell me otherwise!

“It will be good to compare, as much as I’m able, the physical and mental challenges of the two trips. The latter is always the most important aspect.”

Partnering with The North Face for his Alpine Odyssey, Huw is unfazed by the cold.

“Having good equipment is vitally important on a journey of this nature,” he said.

“I still seem able to combat the cold as well as I ever did even if perhaps I don’t relish it as much as I once did!

“There will of course be times when I’m cold, wet and tired but as long as there is a dryish tent, a dry sleeping bag and a hot coffee or hot chocolate at the end of the day then life is good.”

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As a long time Save the Children Australia ambassador – a relationship that began in 2014 when they were the beneficiary of Huw’s year-long, 13,000-km human powered circumnavigation of the Mediterranean Sea from Gallipoli back to Gallipoli – Huw’s hoping Alpine Odyssey will raise $50,000 for the charity’s Our Yarning project.

The success of this is as important to Huw as the journey, which passes through the lands of some nine traditional owner groups.

“Our Yarning is a wonderful project that produces books for Indigenous Australian children, written and illustrated by Indigenous authors and illustrators, telling their stories – stories that are so important to retain in Australian culture,” he said.

“This will also be a great opportunity for me to learn some of the stories and cultural practices of our First Nations people in the alpine country.”

Before setting off, Huw will launch Thredbo’s Environment Week activities on Monday 25 July, with a talk on the Alpine Odyssey and some of his environmental work.

Full details on the Alpine Odyssey are available here. People wishing to help Huw achieve his $50,000 Our Yarning goal can do so by clicking here.

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