Mt. Kosciuszko is the centerpiece of Australia’s largest national park located in the Great Dividing Range of New South Wales. It is the highest mountain on the Australian continent. This is the coldest and snowiest part of Australia, which is mostly a hot continent. The weather can be extremely unpredictable, and climbers are advised to be prepared for all conditions.
Ten months after embarking on my Seven Summits journey, I had reached the top of Mt. Kosciuszko. The hike up the mountain is considered the easiest of the summits as it takes only one day; however, that does not take away from the accomplishment. I decided to climb Kosciuszko in December, their summer season. Even though we were able to avoid the extreme ice and snow of winter, the weather was still unpredictable, and we encountered high winds, snow, rain, and fog. The fog was especially distracting since it reduced our visibility of the surrounding area, making it difficult to see the beauty around us.
Although this was not a physically demanding climb, I always make sure to be well prepared in order to have success. Every expedition is different and offers its own kind of personal insights. This was the third climb in my pursuit of the Adventure Grand Slam, and what began as a selfish endeavor of climbing the Seven Summits became something that allowed me to learn from people of all walks of life as they shared their own life challenges. This experience made me realize that inspiration is a two-way street, and when you open up to others around you, they will respond by sharing their own experiences. This climb might have been an easy one, but I gained a deeper understanding of the meaning of inspiration…
Great White Shark Dive
Being in Australia with the Neptune Islands just a short flight away, I packed away my climbing gear and suited up in diving gear to face one of man’s most feared predators, the Great White Shark, otherwise known as “white death”.
The next morning, I greeted the divers and crew at 6:30am. Everyone was in high spirits and excited for our once-in-a-lifetime adventure. At 7:00am, we were underway with smooth sailing, hot coffee, and a hardy breakfast. By the time 9:00am rolled around, however, we were experiencing high winds and rough seas, as well as the dreaded sea sickness.
Finally, we arrived at the site and prepared to enter the cold waters. As the dive cage was lowered and the sea sickness forgotten, the exhilaration of a shark sighting took over. Buckets of blood, fish heads, and chum were tossed into the ocean with hopes to lure the sharks to the boat. We suited up in groups of four and eagerly awaited our turn to be lowered into the danger zone.
Within minutes, we had our first Great White sighting! When my turn in the cage began, I immediately spotted one underneath of us. It looked to be 10 feet long as it circled the cage. The shark maneuvered to attack the bait and charged the cage, hitting it with extreme force. In the excitement of the moment, I wanted to reach out and touch, but my better judgment told me that would not be a good idea.
As soon as it appeared, it disappeared. It would be another 20 minutes before we would see another shark. This time the Great White hung around a while, circling us with curiosity. We were in awe of the beauty and gracefulness of this large, dangerous predator. Before I knew it, my time underwater was up. I will never forget this up close and personal experience with one of the most powerful and feared creatures in the ocean.