In 52 days he travelled 700 kilometres overland through bitter winter conditions, lost seven kilos and, as far as he’s concerned, he ate far too many freeze-dried meals.
But in the process of his solo trek across the rooftop of Australia where he crossed nine traditional owner lands, three borders and visited 12 of Australia’s ski resorts, Huw Kingston raised $62,000 for an Indigenous literacy project.
Last week the 59-year-old finally took off his pack and put down his poles at the historic old ski area of Mt Franklin Chalet, high above Canberra in the Brindabella Mountains and, fittingly, fresh snow serenaded him to the finish line.
Thus completed Huw’s Alpine Odyssey – a skiing and walking journey following the length of the Australian alpine country, with the added twist of skiing at each of mainland Australia’s 12 snow resorts.
He had set a target of raising $50,000 for Save the Children’s Our Yarning project but landed $12,000 north of that target.
“Like with so many of my previous long journeys, I’m just amazed to have reached the end,” Huw said.
“There are so many variables in such journeys through the mountains in winter,” he said. “My battered body held together despite breaking a rib early on and suffering a badly bruised coccyx after falling during a 40-kilometre cross country ski race I did as a sideshow to my main event.
“I also got through some hairy moments along the way, but Alpine Odyssey was everything I wanted it to be.”
Trekking on ski and foot through the mountains, long days and cold camps were so much of it, but Huw said, equally the journey was a celebration of the alpine communities and warm welcomes, and much fun was had at the dozen snow resorts he visited en route.
“Communities that have been so good to me over the years and places that have suffered much in recent years from COVID and bushfires,” he said.
These resorts, he christened the ‘Skier’s Dozen’, were: Lake Mountain, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Stirling, Mt Buller, Dinner Plain, Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Buffalo, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, Perisher and Selwyn.
The Alpine Odyssey also highlighted the threats to this unique Alpine ecosystem.
“Threats from climate change, feral animals, plant diseases and fire to name a few,” Huw said.
He said he was stoked that thanks to the generosity of so many people, he had well exceeded the fundraising target of $50,000 he’d set for Our Yarning.
“With nearly $20,000 coming in during the past fortnight of my odyssey, $62,000 is a brilliant result and the total is still growing,” he said.
Huw’s finish coincides with a week of activities being held in Canberra for the Our Yarning project, including workshops for budding Indigenous authors, donor meetings and a free public lecture.
He also reflected on a parallel from his first winter alpine traverse 25 years ago.
“For the first three weeks of my 1997 winter traverse I didn’t see another soul until I arrived at a snow clearing depot below Mount Hotham late into the night, and knocked on the door asking to use their phone. Classical music was playing and the road crew were glued to the TV.
“A big burly bloke holding a can of VB turned and said, ‘If you haven’t seen anyone, you wouldn’t know about Princess Diana. That’s her funeral we’re watching’,” Huw explained.
Without a mobile or any communications device he had had no word of her death.
“This time, deep in the Snowy Mountains for my final leg from Perisher to the ACT, news filtered through about the Queen’s passing,” he added. “She was laid to rest on the day I finished.”
Original Article published by Edwina Mason on About Regional.