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Charlotte Pass, New South Wales

Charlotte Pass is a location (elev. 1,837m) in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia where the Kosciuszko Road crosses Kangaroo Ridge. The location is also often referred to as Charlotte's Pass, both colloquially and in official documents.

Charlotte Pass Village (elev. 1,760m) is located at the base of Kangaroo Ridge to the south east of the pass, and is the highest permanent settlement in Australia.

The area is part of Kosciuszko National Park.

The pass and village are named after Charlotte Adams who, in 1881, was the first European woman to climb Mount Kosciuszko.

The Kosciuszko Road now terminates at Charlotte Pass. The last 9 kilometres leading to Mount Kosciuszko have been closed for environmental reasons, since 1982.

History

The historic Kosciuszko Chalet was the first building in the village, and was opened on May 10, 1930. The Chalet at Charlotte Pass was one of several alpine area accommodation facilities built by government in Australia, and offered an opulent life style at the time.

The Chalet burnt down in August 1938, and a new Chalet was built in its place the following summer. The Chalet is still the largest and most significant building in the village, and remains the heart of the village in winter.

Apart from the Chalet, the village contains 12 commercial and club lodges, and has the capacity to hold 607 guests.

The village and resort precinct are part of the Kosciuszko National Park, and the village is leased to and operated by Charlotte Pass Village Pty Ltd (CPV); all leases are due to expire by June 2015.

The area was one of the end points for the longest ski lift in the world, constructed from the Thredbo Valley in 1964. Due to high winds and technical difficulties it was closed after one season. The cable snapped.

Recreation

Skiing

An area between Kangaroo Ridge, Mount Stillwell ridge, and Guthries Ridge is formally designated as the Charlotte Pass Alpine Resort.

It is the oldest and highest ski resort in Australia.

The resort contains five ski lifts, one triple chairlift, one T-bar, two Platter lifts and a beginner's moving carpet (which replaced a rope tow in 2008), accessing 50 hectares of skiable terrain. The highest lifted elevation is 1964m; the base elevation 1755m; giving a downhill skier's vertical of 210m. The resort currently only lifts to part of its leased area. A small terrian park was first constructed in 2008. The resort has a few mobile snow guns to top up high traffic areas and help open difficult terrain areas earlier in the season. A list of every ski tow to ever operate at Charlotte Pass can be found at wikiski

The resort is also very popular with cross-country skiers, as the village provides immediate access to Australia's highest peaks.

The resort receives, on average, more natural snow than other Australian resorts due to its elevation. In 1981, one weather event dropped snow to the extent that the Kangaroo Ridge triple chair terminus was buried in snow, over the top of the pylon, by the cornice by up to 0.5m. This level of snow fall is an exception.

The Charlotte Pass ski area might be the only area in Australia with viable natural snow in several years time due to the impact of global warming.

Mount Stillwell
Kangaroo Ridge
Little Stillwell
Kangaroo Ridge Triple Chairlift mid station
Basin Poma unload point
Ego flats
Snow gums

Cycling

Bushwalking

During the summer, Charlotte Pass is a base for bushwalkers with intent to walk to the top of Mount Kosciuszko and access the Main Range. The mountain is an 18km round trip via the Summit Walk, or a 22km loop via the post glacial Lakes Walk.

A shorter and easier walk to the Kosciuszko summit can also be accessed via Thredbo.

Accessability

In summer, access is by Kosciuszko Road from Jindabyne.

In winter, the area is snow-bound and can only be accessed by snowmobile from the Perisher Valley SkiTube terminal, which lies 8 kilometres to the north east, also via Jindabyne.

The area has not always been regarded as being easily accessible to all people. In the mid 20th century, the Chalet at Charlotte Pass was referred to as a breeding ground for snobocracy by local politician John Wesley Seiffert who by public criticism obtained a reduced bus fare to the area, thus opening the snowfields to a wider range of people.

Environment

Being an alpine area the area is subject to extremes in temperature, and is a recognised environmentally sensitive zone.

The area has been long been used as a base for environmental research, for example for plankton studies in the nearby post glacial lake Blue Lake (New South Wales) in 1937 using a flat bottomed boat, and more recently, for example in 1997 as a heliport for studies of the mountain pygmy possum.

Climate

Charlotte Pass has the coldest recorded temperature in Australia (excluding Antarctic territories), of -23.0°C on 28 June, 1994.

The area's highest recorded temperature is 33.5°C.

Average temperatures range in summer from about 4°C to 17°C and in winter from about -2°C to 2°C.

Annual rain fall averages 2329.6mm, with about half falling as snow between late May to late September, although conditions result in snow depth typically never exceeding 2.5m to 3m. Official snow depths are not recorded for Charlotte Pass, but are recorded by the Snowy Hydro Limited at nearby Spencer's Creek (elev. 1830m). A typical snow depth at its peak is about 1.5m to 2m.

Snow falls have been recorded at all times of the year, some persisting on the ground for days even in the middle of summer. While snow falls at unexpected times can add interest to the area, they are typically associated with very severe weather events, which can also causing havoc with distastrous consequences. For example, weather patterns bringing snow falls on Boxing day and the following day in 1998 caused loss of life in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race that year.

Ecology

Of major faunal significance is the mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus), which from 1894 until 1966 was only known from the fossil record.

Management and services

The area is subject to a wide range of government legislation and environmental plans, and due to the environmental sensistivity of the area is one of the most heavily regulated areas in Australia.

Services such as garbage collection and sewage processing are the responsibility of the area's lessee.

Accommodation and service buildings in Charlotte Pass Village
Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel
Charlotte Pass Ski Centre
Bella Vista Staff Lodge (Cell Block, Cellavista)
Kosciuszko Alpine Club
Knockshannoch Lodge
Jerrabomberra Lodge
Spencer's Creek Lodge
Stillwell Lodge
Southern Alps Ski Lodge
Pygmy Possum Lodge
Snowbird Lodge
Arlberg Lodge
Burrawong Lodge
Alitji Lodge
Tar Gan Gil Lodge
Other facilities and features (Guthries Poma (Platter Lift) and Pulpit T-Bar not shown)
Sewage plant (Shakespears Lodge)
Basin Poma
Magic Carpet (Kosi Carpet)
Kangaroo Ridge Triple Chairlift
"Fox hole" at the eastern end of Stillwell Ridge
Workshop

References

External links

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