You Peak Bagger You

November 21, 2012

I have been freaked out!! All day. Along knife edges. Up ice and rock. More knife edges. One preceded by “if you have to choose, fall right not left. If you fall right you are less likely to die.” He was serious. Heck, so was I. I actually started the day marveling at the teal blue light that beams out of the ice when I withdraw the ice pick. As if a soft neon light was lit under the ice. Why does no one ever write about that when they are talking about the mountains? There is glory and majesty underfoot it turns out, just as much as there is on my horizon. Read more

Mind Over Matter Over Ice

November 19, 2012

I slept well though under the shadow of a migraine. Altitude and hard work and my dreams are vivid and ridiculous and I turn through the night to get away from them. We cracked a window to ensure we didn’t suffocate and I enjoyed the cold air blowing over my face although we rose to a drift of snow across the floor. I lay in bed ‘playing trains” with the vapour form my breath. First order of business however was digging out the latrines. Nothing like shoveling a few cubic metres of drifted snow to focus on what is really essential. To my amusement the kea pestering us yesterday appeared with her two chicks and quickly we were playing a game of “I’ll throw (a shovelful of snow) you duck” Score: about a 5 all draw. By the time I was done I am well and truly warmed up and the overnight polys came off very quickly. Read more

Up from Ball Hut

November 17, 2012

Well if you have to continue in Hillary’s steps (I use the word ‘continue’ with considerable license – I was in Nepal earlier in the year, Ed’s second home) then this is the place to come.  He practiced on a regular basis from the Ball Hut and that’s where we got going from today. We lifted 900 metres on a track that is barely discernable as such. And pretty much straight up. The weather stayed clear and it didn’t take long to warm up.  We had waited at the Hermitage for the rain to clear from the Tasman Glacier Valley. Even though it was pouring a slight break in the cloud galvanized our guide. We are good to go and he dragged us away from our coffees. I am not sure how he knew but by the time we had driven around to the mouth of the valley the sun was pouring down even though the rain continued behind us. Read more

A Conversation with Joanna

November 15, 2012

Well here I am again. No, don’t get up, two visits in less than two years is not that unusual.  Okay, I did commit to coming back earlier though, so forgive me my tardiness. I ran down here this morning from Tekapo and have arrived to a gorgeous clear day, though there is a forecast of rain so I am not wasting time. Your letters are all clear of loose paint and the surface is wiped over with metho and I am about to break out the brushes.  The silence is filled with so many triggers of memories. The smell of the damp earth, daisies (that have escaped the lawnmower) a lamp bleating for its mother, the constant chorus of thrushes, the throaty bleat of an anxious ewe and the high trill of larks bring me straight back to a place a ten year old boy reveled in. But I hope you are not offended when I say my heart is no longer here. With the exception of this piece of hallowed ground I hasten to add. I arrive and drop my bucket of gear and find myself on my knees, overcome for a moment. You know there is just a piece of my heart here. But the loves of my life are elsewhere these days and that is where my heart goes.

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In the Footsteps of Edmund Hillary

November 9, 2012

There has to be a better title than that but that pretty much sums it up.  Sir Ed allegedly got the climbing bug when he climbed up to the Mueller Hut located in the Mount Cook National Park – or whatever it was then. So Steve and I thought we would have a crack at doing that as well today. After all, if you have mad notions of climbing Everest why not start where he started? Read more