NZ Alpine Course – Diary (March 2016) (1)

May 27, 2016

IMG_245511 March

It has been a long while since I have put pen to paper but travel, if anything is what will shake the muse loose. I usually observe something like this after a long break from writing and settling into an aircraft seat. This time I am pre-empting that moment. Sydney is oppressively humid and the sweat clings to my jeans and pulls my shirt to my back, even before I move. Sitting at my desk is a liquid business. But I want to start my diary before we head out. We have accumulated our clothes and equipment to our packs after collecting them from assorted bins and boxes – I have not really sorted my gear properly from Ama Dablam, Afghanistan and a couple of house moves. And here we are on the plane, with little writing done. There is an assortment of gear in the hold below this seat and yet more that has to be sorted when we get to Tekapo where we join the climbing company. I figure we can just throw everything at the pack and then sort the gear then. I am looking forward to doing this trek/climb with Kavitha. Too often these trips are done on my own and it’s a real privilege to have a companion – who is of course much more than that – to embark on this adventure too. She is taking quite a leap in such a mad caper but I am confident she will enjoy herself. The relaxed instructors will help with that too. Read more

What Goes Up Must Come Down – Until Next Time

December 2, 2012

The previous evening the snow started in just before six thirty, and just as three others hove into view in the saddle below the hut. They struggle through the knee deep snow and we symapthise and put the kettle on then start into our own dinner. Wolfgang cooks up a mean stir fry but as he is quick to admit alpine climbers are not fussy eaters and at the end of a hard day will almost anything without complaining. He sells himself short because it’s actually quite tasty, helped of course by a fine Pinot Gris which washes it all down. Two Belgians and their Welsh/Kiwi guide bustle in. They are looking a little worse for wear but are very friendly and they fit straight in. They seem to appreciate the hot coffee. And a gingernut biscuit helps revive them. Once settled they pore over maps of the ranges. We wonder at the lack of technical kit given we know what is ahead of us. Have I mentioned knife edges? Read more

Taking a Step when You Shouldn’t

December 2, 2012

Fear is in the pit of my gut fed by tidbits of “What ifs” that are impossible to repel. What if I lose my footing? My balance? What if the snow slope gives way (the avalanches on Middle Peak crack and rumble across the valley from us and we watch the snow and rock cascade in to the glacier below us) What if I can’t self arrest? How far is it to the valley floor below me that I cannot even see? (Okay, that was not a “what if” but it fuels the fear nonetheless).  And then I surprise myself and lift a foot and move it forward with conviction so the crampon bites and off I go towards a lip of snow over which I have no idea what exists. Read more

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

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