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Ice Climbing at Blue Lake : Friends, Sour Worms and Ice Climbing

September 01, 2023

Ice Climbing at Blue Lake :  Friends, Sour Worms and Ice Climbing

Written by Mont Ambassador Daygin Prescott

Australia has ice climbing. Yep, you better believe it. Certainly a bit more of a novelty than in other alpine areas around the world, but it’s still a great introduction to swinging around pointy tools and wearing spiky shoes.

This year the Kosciuzcko National Park has been pretty shocking for backcountry riding. Rain events followed by overnight freezes, has meant the entire main range has been locked up in ice at every elevation and aspect. After a week of overnight freezes, we decided it was time to head out to Blue Lake, hopeful for good ice!

I was joined by my climbing partner Evan, as well as some other good pals that were in town for the week. A real mixed bag of a crew with varying abilities and experience, many first times - first time snow camping, first time ice climbing, first time snowshoeing, first time melting snow, first time taking a group of friends ice climbing.

Evan stemming up a fun corner feature.

Myself and Evan took the lead of the trip, ensuring everyone was well prepared with layers, climbing gear and sour worms.

After an early morning car shuffle at Guthega, we headed out to establish our camp. With firm rime ice underfoot, we made good time thanks to our last-minute decision to all wear snowshoes. Layers slowly came off and smiles were had all round, because, well you’re in the mountains with your friends - it's pretty great!

A quick intermission at camp. Digging platforms, building snow walls and getting our homes setup for our return later in the evening.

Around an hour of walking and we arrived at the lake in a whiteout. There is incredible energy within the lake’s amphitheater. Approaching the cliffs, it grew obvious we were in for a treat! The ice was well-formed and plentiful (At lest by Australian standards).

With not a significant amount of experience, we opted for just top roping this trip. Most climbs here can be accessed by some easy soloing up snow / ice ramps. Our anchors were a mix of boulders, screws and t-slot snow pickets. A quick lesson on climbing and crampon technique and a fair warning for putting a hole in your pants. The crew then cycled through the two routes we set up. Feeling like such a foreign activity in Australia, the girls found it hard to believe that we were ACTUALLY ice climbing, so much psych across the board.

Mega smiles for Evan, rocking the Guide Hoodie.

Ice climbing is a great way to humble your forearms pretty quickly. Everyone was feeling the flash-pump when we moved over to the steeper corner/ chimney. Our short afternoon then came to an end and we made our way back to camp through the darkness, taking in the evening glow on the mountains and millions of stars filling the sky.

The refuel station. My favourite thing about winter camping is being able to sculpt your campsite into whatever you like!

Back at camp, we established an accommodating dining table, ate more sour worms, played some chess and indulged in some fine tea. Dinners ranged from fresh vegetables to pesto ravioli and moroccan couscous. Water was boiled, Nalgenes filled and sleeping bags toasty warm as we headed for some sleep ahead of another day of climbing.


New addition to my 10 essentials - Chess Board

A ‘relatively’ alpine start the next day and we were back at Blue Lake for more laps and good times! It felt very much like a day at the local crag. Everyone is hanging out, swinging axes on a beautiful blue bird day. The ice was far better earlier in the day. The previous afternoon was major ice choss with constant ice falling and water dripping.


We climbed until the day warmed up and the ice deteriorated, after some self-arrest practice, the crew packed up and headed back to camp.

Headlamp lit return to camp

More camp vibes, chocolate and sour worms and we all headed to sleep and back to the trailhead the next morning.

Grab your friends and head outside!

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