Mount Kosciuszko

There is nothing attractive on Mt. Kosciuszko in Austral summer for a visiting mountaineer. [/stag_one_half_last]

We took the chairlift back to the base, ate a quick celebratory lunch, and then travelled north to Queensland to explore a new world for both of us: underwater at the Great Barrier Reef.

While on the Great Barrier Reef, we visited Lizard Island and climbed its highest peak. While it topped out at only 359 meters, the rugged, stark beauty of Cook’s Look—named for the adventurous character Captain James Cook and populated by monitor lizards —captured our imagination far more than Kosciuszko had. Bo made this certificate to help us remember our ascent.

In 1992, after I returned from Aconcagua, I made my intention to climb the Seven Summits known to a few close friends, including Barry Kieselstein-Cord, a fine jeweler whose design inspiration was often found in objects of nature and spiritual significance. News of my impending quest immediately triggered his extravagant imagination. “I will design a unique gold cross inspired by each mountain and make two copies of each one,” he told me. “You’ll wear one on your expedition, and you can bury the other on the summit in a bottle with a note of congratulations to the person who finds it. It will be a global treasure hunt, for gold, diamonds, rubies and emeralds!” Since wearing and carrying these precious pieces to the summit was no added burden for me, and I loved the romantic and adventurous spirit of the idea, I agreed. Although never intended to be worn all at the same time, I did so once, for a Vogue magazine photo shoot.

Within a month after leaving the one on Kosciusko, I received a handwritten letter from a college student in Australia. It said that he had to read the note inside the bottle several times before he could believe what it said: that the solid gold cross was his to keep and, since it was a gift, he could do anything he wanted with it. After thanking me, he went on to say that he’d sold it to a fine jewelry shop in Sydney. And he hoped I didn’t mind: the money would pay for the final two years of his college education. Mission accomplished; I hope that the others went toward causes equally imaginative and useful. (This is the only one that I know to have been found. If anyone reading this story knows anything about the others, please share the information in the comments!)

Picture 1: Bo’s certificate to mark our ascent of Cook’s Look
Picture 2: Von Guerard painting of Kosciuszko
Picture 3: Bo snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, Photographer: Sandy Hill
Picture 4: Fish in the Great Barrier Reef, Photographer: Sandy Hill
Picture 5: Our route up Kosciuszko
Picture 6: Looking up to the summit, Photographer: Sandy Hill
Picture 7: Wearing Barry Kieselstein-Cord’s crosses, Photographer: Patrik Andersson, published in Vogue
Picture 8: Kieselstein-Cord’s crosses, Photographer: Sandy Hill
Picture 9: At the summit, Photographer: Robert T. Pittman
Picture 10: Alpine daisies, Photographer: Sandy Hill
Picture 11: The summit, from a vintage postcard, Photographer: unknown