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12 marca 2009
‘Kozziefest’ Film Crew Goes Off the Beaten Track
Carole Thomas of the Snowy River Echo

This February, two American adventurers and two Polish filmmakers made the 15km from Geehi to the top of Mount Kosciuszko. Martin Douthitt, 63,and Dale Torok, 59, from Jackson, Kentucky, hooked up with the two young Polish filmmakers, Oscar and Mario from ‘Oski pictures’ through Ernestyna Skurjat-Kozek of Puls Polonii, organiser of the upcoming ‘Kozziefest Festival’. A film documentary of the trip will be shown at the Festival to be held in Jindabyne on April the 17th and 18th.

For the Americans, it all started when Martin gave an inspirational PowerPoint presentation at a Rotary Club dinner on his adventures inspired by the book ‘Seven Summits’ by Dick Bass that describes two mens’ quest to climb to the top of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

After Dale’s wife of 22 years died, he was in danger of becoming a ‘shut-in’ but good friend Martin suggested that he came on the 5 to 10 mile walks that Martin regularly took to keep in shape for his ongoing quest. Martin who has so far climbed six mountains, asked Dale to come to Australia and climb Kosciuszko, and he jumped at the chance. Dale said “every American wants to come to Australia and see your amazing country”.

The two-day trip turned into a three day adventure and even though they were well equipped with all the gear including a personal locator beacon, and are experienced bushwalkers, they found themselves disorientated, unable to get accurate readings from their compass and with no GPS, often the group had to pan out to find the track, losing hours of valuable time.

Running out of food and water on the third day, they managed to sustain themselves on a diet of jelly beans and creek water they collected at Moiras Flat. Martin said “one of the biggest problems was finding the trail markers in the thick scrub that completely obscured the track”.

When going on back country treks, it is always important to be well equipped, take plenty of water and most importantly of all, inform the National Parks, friends or relatives of your estimated time of arrival so they can raise the alarm if for any reason you don’t return on time.

PP: Snowy River Echo Monthly is a proud sponsor of K'Ozzie Fest.

The Police were called and the National Parks were alerted when the group failed to return after the second day, with Ernestyna and her husband Andrew understandably concerned. Ernestyna said “we were very worried and the NPWS and the Police were extremely helpful”.

Strezlecki is well known in America and the group certainly got a taste of what the early explorers mapping this area must have gone through. After their ordeal and a very rough night in the bush, complete with cramps from dehydration, as well as a close encounter with a brown snake, the group finally made it to the top of Mount Kosciuszko and then back down to Rawson’s Pass where a National Parks vehicle driven by Snowy Region Visitor Centre Manager, Business & Tourism, Steve Redden kindly picked them up and drove them back to hot showers and a hearty meal at the Brumby Bar.

Reprinted from "Snowy River Echo", March 2009

From left: Dale, Oscar & Martin on top of Mt Kosciuszko, with Mario behind the camera

Expedition members with Steve Redden of the NPWS

A farewell celebration on Sydney Center Point, quite high, not as high as Mt Kosciuszko though...