The Effects Physical Health has on Mental Health - Mount Kosciuszko
Henrietta - Year 10
I started my Middle Years Programme (MYP) personal project with an idea to climb Mount Kosciuszko. After looking into the logistics, I discovered that the Kosciuszko hike does not need training to be able to conquer. There are a number of routes, but I chose the longest, a 20km round trip through Charlotte Pass at an elevation of 2,228 metres above sea-level. The actual ascent was around 500 metres from the start of the hike to the summit.
I was pondering over many ideas on how I could further my project with a question, or something I could discover. I began researching The Effects Physical Health has On Mental Health and ways in which I could incorporate that into my climb. The basic research for this was quite easy, I do a lot of sport and can use my personal experience to understand positive effects of exercise. I know I am happier and feel better once I have exercised. I decided to create a video documentary detailing my experiences climbing Kosciuszko and the overall effects that physical health has on mental health. Of course, I could not do any of this without from my wonderful Father…….
The Kosciuszko climb was not what I expected. We drove 6 hours down to the Kosciuszko National Park where we stayed in a little cabin just outside Jindabyne. With our fingers crossed for good weather we awoke to a beautiful morning sunny and clear blue skies and a balmy 10 degrees. Little did we know that would only last for our drive to our starting point, Charlotte Pass. As we drove through the windy steep roads, the clouds and mist began to close in on us. We could not see 50 meters in front of us, covered in thick fog. When we arrived at the starting point, heavy rain fell despite the forecast for clear weather. We sat in the car for 20 minutes in the hope that the rain would pass, and the blue skies would come back out. However, they did not.
We set off on our 20 km hike. I realised I forgot my waterproof pants and was walking in drenched dripping leggings within 10 minutes of starting. Freezing and unable to look up from the ground due to the strong winds we made it through the first 3 kms relatively comfortably, but the worst was yet to come. As we got into our 4th km of the hike, the rain and the winds picked up. Walking down towards a gushing Snowy River and deepening pools of water that flooded the track, my legs felt like they were going to freeze off. Our shoes were soddened and squelching. In the worsening weather we contemplated turning back.
At 6kms we reached our first stop, the Seamans Hut. Luckily, we got some shelter from the storm here and we met two other hikers, Randy, and James. They were soaked through. They had camped overnight next to the Snowy River. We hydrated, had some food and resolved to continue if the rain relented. I felt some warmth come back into my legs and the blood circulating again. To our relief, the rain did indeed ease and we left Seamans Hut ready for the next 3.5kms to the summit.
With adrenaline pumping and hopes that we might glimpse some blue, we made it to the top. With the biggest smile on my face I was overjoyed with the feeling of accomplishment. Although we had little to no views of our surroundings, we really were on the highest mountain in Australia, it was freezing and windy but was all worth it. The happiness of reaching the summit and knowing that I had worked hard to get there positively impacted my mental health.