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.
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.
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.
A shorter and easier walk to the Kosciuszko summit can also be accessed via Thredbo.
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.
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.
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.
Services such as garbage collection and sewage processing are the responsibility of the area's lessee.
|Accommodation and service buildings in Charlotte Pass Village|
|Other facilities and features (Guthries Poma (Platter Lift) and Pulpit T-Bar not shown)|