Well 2012 is disappearing very quickly and before we know it the guy in the big red suit will be popping down chimneys, eating the cake, drinking the milk, and enjoying rum that has been left out for him as he makes his annual run from the North Pole.
Crikey, how do you get a job like that? I mean, you work one day a year, get the spoils of the job, and make lots of people happy!
And a nano-second later we’ll all be joining hands and singing old langsyne as we see off 2012 and welcome in 2013.
In our household 2013 signals the start of quite an ambitious travel program, brought about by my desire to climb the world’s highest mountain peaks.
It kicks off early in January when I make my way to New Zealand to climb Mt Aspiring which is situated in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Janet and TomO will be following shortly after and will spend a few days travelling before we meet up in the picturesque town of Wanaka.
Mt Aspiring is called Tititea by the indigenous Maori people and stands at 3,027 metres and it is described as having sheer faces and graceful lines.
We will travel from the headquarters of Adventure Consultants in Wanaka to Bonar Glacier by helicopter as it is usually a 12-14 hour walk otherwise. We then have a 2-3 hour walk on the glacier to reach our destination, Colin Todd hut. And depending on how many people are at the hut we may need to camp out in our bivvy bags on Bevan Col.
The first couple of days will be spent acclimatising and revising cramponing skills, ascending steep snow and ice, and of course, importantly, crevasse rescue. I have spent a lot of time on rescues in the Blue Mountains in recent times and I have a strong belief that you can’t do enough of it – it may save your own, or someone else’s life and the skill needs to be second nature.
Prior to an attempt on the summit of Mt Aspiring we will spend a day climbing some smaller peaks in the area, such as Mt Bevan. It stands at 2,030 metres and they say the view from the top is glorious.
There is something like 27 different routes that can be taken to the summit of Mt Aspiring all of varying degrees of difficulty. Many of these routes will not be available to us due to the time of year we are attempting it. We are anticipating our route to the summit will be the classic North West Ridge route, but a final decision will be made at the time.
Ascent day will begin at 3am in the morning and may finish as late as 7pm that evening and we can expect a mixture of snow, ice, and rock as we progress towards the summit.
The second week in the mountains will most likely be spent in the Mt Cook region, where we will concentrate on some ice climbing as well as a number of ascents over the week. The structure of the week will be decided at the time and where we climb will be dictated to by the prevailing conditions.
There are a number of possibilities, including Mt Aylmer which stands at 2,699 metres, Mt Elie de Beaumont which gives commanding views of the Tasman Sea from its 3,109 metre summit. Other likely climbs include Mt Green and Mt Walter, which both stand just less than 3,000 metres.
After making our way back to Wanaka once again, I will be meeting up with Janet and TomO who will also be full of tales of adventure after their week travelling around in the Southern Alps. They are planning a helicopter trip to Fox Glacier as well as taking in the scenery of the fabulous Southern Alps…
Mid-year, I will be returning to New Zealand to hone in my ice-climbing skills while Janet and TomO spend some time on the ski slopes around Wanaka and Queenstown.
And the big trip is at the end of 2013 when I head off to Nepal to experience the Himalayan Mountain range. This is an expedition to climb three peaks, Lobuche East, Island Peak, and Pokalde. The first two are just over 6,000 metres in height, and Pokalde stands at just over 5,800 metres.
This expedition will provide me with the stepping stone towards an 8,000 metre peak, either Cho Oyu, or Manaslu in 2014. It seems so far away, but time will go very quickly, and there is still much to learn, and 2013 will also be spent taking my fitness to a complete new level.
Janet and TomO will be travelling to Kathmandu where we will spend a week resting together and hopefully visiting some of the Sherpa villages.
We believe this is a great opportunity for TomO to experience different countries and cultures, and he is relishing the opportunity.
Of course, he has already made noises about standing on top of Mt Everest with me, and perhaps that day will come. But it is one step at a time, one foot after another, and hopefully the program over the next 12 to 18 months will set me up for an attempt on Mt Everest in 2015…