From Main Range disaster to social media guru
It was an experience that could have easily killed Peter Hosking. At the very least it should have turned off a novice to the Australian mountains for life. Instead his dice with death on the Main Range inspired Peter to immerse himself in the mountain community and create a range of resources for snow lovers to engage with.
After a drama-free spring day of hiking to the peak of Kosciuszko for the first time, Peter Hosking made the decision to head back to Thredbo at 4pm.
That would be his first mistake.
It had all been quite pleasant day out on the Main Range up until that point for the former Queenslander who repatriated to the mountains after falling in love with the high country on his first trip back in 2009.
Three years on he was making his first ascent to the top of Australia in what started out as benign conditions on October 10. “I didn’t know a whole about the snow and mountain thing. But I got onto Mountain Watch and checked out the weather and it looked like I a had a window,” he said.
Hosking got some cheap gear, food and drink, hiked to the top and then made his way to Seaman’s Hut, sitting and chatting to a few people for an hour or two.
“Another group came through and said the weather was coming in which surprised me,” he said. “Everything I’d read said it was going to be clear”.
After some discussions Hosking determined he’d walk from the western side of the Ramsheads on the Main Range and drop straight into Thredbo.
“I took off and about half an hour later clouds came in. I went over to the saddle I thought I should be going down. Then it started to lightly snow and it just got heavier and heavier and I thought ‘crap what is going on here’.”
Hosking quickly became disorientated. After about an hour he decided to make a basic snow cave and bunker down for a few hours.
But after seeing some lights on the Alpine Way in the distance he decided to continue walking at night in an effort to reach the village by the morning.
Big mistake No.2.
Broken snow shoes, fighting through bush and shrubs, a twisted ankle, Hosking’s decision to travel at night was almost fateful. Things escalated as his gloves and shoes got wet and he was cold to the bone. Another brief rest only seemed to make things worse.
Becoming hypothermic and tearing up, Hosking pushed on. A Main Range sunrise gave him a boost as did the small amount of power left in his iPhone, Hosking using maps to work out he wasn’t too far from the Alpine Way. After crossing a few more streams he made it – one valley across from he should have been.
“I walked up to the road and flagged down the first car. I was virtually in front of them in the middle of the road with both arms flailing,” he said. After being taken to the Thredbo ticket office he collapsed. It was more than a day after he’d set out.
After a period recuperating and hydrating an ambulance followed him to Jindabyne where he slept for nearly 24 hours. “I was absolutely and completely exhausted. That was my first experience of the backcountry,” he said.
But far from send him back to warmer climes, Hosking was determined to get things right. He went out and bought the right gear, learned more about the backcountry and now runs a bunch of Facebook sites for people to discuss their snow experiences. He started off with Thredbo Snow Riders and Snow Gear Buy Swap Sell and has expanded it into Mt Buller Snow Riders, Falls Creek Snow Riders, Hotham Snow Riders, Mt Selwyn Snowriders and Queensland Snow Riders.
There’s over 10,000 members across the forums and Hosking encourages all snow lovers to join, share content and chat about their passion for the snow. The last thing he wants to do is make it about him and lord it over others as a heavy-handed administrator.
“We’re all about promoting the industry. We’re not into discriminating against others and we don’t hide things. We want to be a friendly environment,” he says.
He has big plans for the groups which he wants to keep under wraps for now but special tours look to be a part of that.
Being a Queenslander, getting people from the Sunshine State to the Australian skifields is a big part of his push because he feels there’s plenty of misconceptions about the snow up north and also given how easy it is to get to New Zealand from Brisbane or the Gold Coast instead.
As someone with high functioning autism he is also keen to help those (and their families) affected with the condition to enjoy a snow experience just like he has – though perhaps without spending a night lost in the backcountry!
Video by Simple Livers www.simplelivers.com
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