Don’t Step on the Crack (Chance of Injury or Death. Or a Laugh)

February 20, 2014

tasman290Apparently the prospect, memory or concept of sex crosses the male mind every eight minutes on average. (Who measures these things? And how?) If ever there is a cure for the wandering mind it’s a four hour walk down a glacier in summertime, when crevasses are open, icy maws with white flecked palates and blue throats that drop into deep dark throats, the bottom of some being invisible. No mind, not even a male one, wanders off when the next step into soft snow might have you crashing into empty space. It happened on numerous occasions this morning. Despite being VERY focused on where I was placing my feet. Read more

Hochstetter Traverse

February 19, 2014

crevasse290I woke at first light, snuck out in the icey slap your face cold to the latrine, then snuggled back into the sleeping bag only to be told ten minutes later it was time to get up. Arrgghh. Read more

Storm Warning – Ignored

February 15, 2014

storm 290The ink does not want to flow, while my hands are barely able to grip the pen. It’s zero degrees in the hut at the moment and snow drift has been blasted in and sits on the sill. Water in pots inside is frozen. Vapour blows from mouth and nostrils as I eat a breakfast of ham and eggs. Thanks Carolyn. She is having a crack at  pancakes  as well. They taste great but she regrets the state of their delivery. I tell her I am ‘eating for effect’ and what they look like doesn’t matter. Besides, the effort and thought counts for much more and I am grateful for her cooking. I slept well, though as the temperature dropped I woke, chilled a little around my exposed shoulders. A quick adjustment of the bag liner, pulling on the Nepalese cap, and I was cosy again. My sleeping bag is not rated for these conditions but the liner should allow me to handle -10 if it comes to that.  I am betting on that not happening. Read more

Inside an Elysium Fridge

February 5, 2014

storm290A storm smashes the hut an hour before our colleagues arrive back from the top of the Tasman Glacier where they have been doing crevasse and ice work. We are surprised that they were  able to find their way in such a white out and had half expected them to make for the Tasman Saddle Hut. As I sit down to fill in the journal they are stomping snow and ice off themselves in the foyer, a neutral air lock of sorts between the kitchen and the outdoors. They stagger in one by one, eying off the steaming kettle, disheveled and wooly and looking mildly surprised at their own arrival in this haven – and possibly survival. Read more

Mt Alymer

February 3, 2014

alymer290We climbed to the top of Mt Alymer (2699m) today and sat up there and had lunch lodged in a rocky eyrie. (That’s the peak curving away to the right of the picture). Having scribbled that note I realize it makes the ascent more prosaic than I felt at the time of doing it. It was a nice steep warm up exercise and in the scheme of things it’s a pimple. But I should never detract from any accomplishment since it represents one step towards even bigger feats. Read more

Rusty Ice

February 1, 2014

helo290The alarm went off far too early at 0600 but it was enough time to get me out the door and up to Tekapo by 0800. The drive from Timaru to Tekapo, where the climbing company I will spend the week with is based, is a reminder of how different we all are. Even though we live so close. Different agriculture. Different construction. Architecture.  Horticulture. Roads. Signs. I muse at how quickly I tuned into the unseen strum of the place a few nights ago yet now so easily spot the differences. Read more

Anticipating a Fall

February 1, 2014

peak290The last time I lined up to do alpine training I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. So, as best I recall I was quite sanguine about the whole thing. Now, with some appreciation of how difficult it might be, I am starting to feel the knot of anticipation wind up inside me as I think about the week that I am to start tomorrow.  It is not a feeling of worry, or of any really deep concern but a slight knot of anticipation. I relive the heights, the falls, the weird sense of stability on crampons in icy edges even as the ground falls away beneath me. I know that it will be a rewarding week but that the reward only comes through hard work but especially by conquering some fear. Actually, it comes about through conquering lots of fear.  Read more