Graduating From Work…

 

You’ve what…?

I’ve retired!  

I hear the cry go out, but you’re too young to retire…

Hey, isn’t that the point.

Besides, I am seeing it as a “graduation from work to full-time adventure”.

But what does retirement truly mean in any case?

Perhaps it is a word for another age, one long past – for me retirement means I have set a different course with my life, reclaiming some of those dreams I have long-held.

Australian Outback

 

After all, you can’t just keep laying “railroad tracks” in the same direction and simply hope you don’t run out of tracks. It is empowering and invigorating to seize control of your life; to make changes as you look to new horizons.

Speaking of which, the Australian Outback beckons and perhaps there are still some mountains that I can climb and plenty of our wonderful coastline left to kayak…

Without doubt this change in my life affords me a better opportunity to claim back my fitness, something that has been lacking over these past couple of years!

It is 42-years since I commenced work with the Bank of New South Wales at age 15-years in 1975. “The Wales” as it was affectionately known was renamed Westpac Banking Corporation following a merger with the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982.

 

“Dear Mr and Mrs O’Malley, it is now 6 months since your son entered on probation with the bank.

During that time, Barry has settled into his new surroundings and applied himself to his various duties to the extent he has shown himself suited to bank work…”

 

bank of new south wales

And whilst I have left the building today, my official finishing date will be 10 April 2017 and following a significant milestone in the history of the bank.

The 8th of April marks the date 200-years ago in 1817 that the Bank of New South Wales opened its doors to business for the very first time. And those that do the maths will see I have been with the bank for over one-fifth of the time since it took those first deposits from customers.

Coincidently, it was on 10 April 1989 that I commenced working in the bank’s 60 Martin Place Financial Markets dealing room after my return from a secondment to the bank’s operations in Papua New Guinea.

The bank has given my family and me a wonderful life, one that has been filled with the opportunity to develop professionally and personally…

“I am proud of the contribution I have made to the bank and today as I walk out the front doors of Head Office in Sydney, perhaps with moistened eyes, I will look back at the mosaic that is the Bank.

I will remember fondly the people I have worked with over the years, the challenges we faced, the successes we achieved, and, importantly, the laughter and banter we have shared.

I will wish those who remain all the best for their future as they continue to weave the living tapestry that is the bank; as they continue to make their own impression on that mosaic…”

 

People have asked me, what will you do?

Well, TomO, the Crown Prince, has just started Year-11 at school and I’m looking forward to simply “being around” for him as he navigates his way through these two important remaining years of his high schooling.

And the future, how do I see that taking shape…?

My answer is simple, to spend it with the love of my life, Janet-Planet.

All who know this wonderfully kind person will attest, she is an absolute angel – I was so lucky to marry the girl next door thirty-three years ago.

Yes literally, next-door neighbours making eyes over the back-fence!

Together we plan to enjoy the next chapter in our lives and look forward to watching our TomO make his mark on the world as he paints his own picture on life’s canvas…

A romantic notion?

For sure it is, but Janet-Planet and I are romantics to the core and loving every minute of that, it has kept us young at heart…!

And who knows where those “railroad tracks” will takes us, but sometimes you just need to walk to the edge and not be afraid to peer over it.

We truly believe the world becomes your oyster when you are willing to put your fears aside and simply…

“Live in the moment”

After all, that is the only moment that we can ever truly live…

“Thanks for your friendship and the memories, Big Bad Baz…!”

 

A Pathway to High Altitude Climbing…

New Zealand's Southern Alps
New Zealand’s Southern Alps

Crikey and Stone the Flamin’ Crows time seems to have whizzed by the last couple of months and may have left you wondering what ever happened to Baz…

You were wondering weren’t you?

Well I haven’t been hiding under a rock in the Outback, although there has been some appeal to that at times…

In fact, there has been little in the way of Outback travel at all since my long sojourn deep into Australia’s Gibson Desert late last year, and nothing on that faraway horizon at this time. It will be more a case of getting out into the Australian Bush when we can snatch a weekend here and there.

Mind you, we are heading to London mid-year for a couple of weeks rest and recreation!

However, I do want to share with you that I am working towards resurrecting that ridiculously big dream I have to climb some of the world’s largest mountains. You may recall my ambitious plan to attempt a summit of Cho Oyu, an 8,000 metre peak in the Himalayan Mountains.

For one reason and another, the plan got side-tracked over the past couple of years, life tends to get in the way, hey! But I’m going to give it another shot and see where it lands me this time around…

And yes, I’m hearing you, I will need to get fit and rest assured training is under way.

Well, let’s call it moving forward for now and to give me a goal to press towards and to build strength and endurance for the mountains I have entered the 2017 Coast-to-Coast Race in New Zealand’s spectacularly beautiful South Island.

Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

For those who have been following my journey from the mountains to the Australian Outback these past few years you may recall this is billed as one of the world’s toughest adventure races that I competed in five years ago in 2012.

You can read some more about it in my article “The World’s Premier Adventure Race”.

Ahead of the Coast-to-Coast there are a number of other events that will lead me towards the start line at Kumara Beach On New Zealand’s west coast.

This will include a short-course adventure race, the Hawkesbury Classic kayak race taking in 110-kilometres of the Hawkesbury River and even a run to the top of the Sydney Tower, a gruelling climb of  1,504 steps and 310 metres of vertical ascent (and yes – I’m using the term run loosely). But I’ll be in good company on the Tower climb with TomO and Janet-Planet joining me in the race to the top….

Oh, don’t get sucked in by the long time line between now and the start of the Coast-to-Coast next February, TomO the Crown Prince turned 16 years of age yesterday, which left me and Janet-Planet wondering where all that time went…

The climbing ropes are beckoning, the kayak is itching to get out onto the water and the running shoes are screaming out for some action – I just prayer the body holds up this time around!

But you know my philosophy on life – You just wouldn’t be dead for quids, hey!

Cheers, Baz

 

Fate, are you a believer?

A couple of months ago I decided to put aside my climbing ambitions in Nepal this year after my sister, Debbie, was diagnosed with advanced cancer.

Instead Deb and I went on a road trip a week or so ago with our mother to the Queensland country town where she grew up, having a wonderful time together as a family.

Last Wednesday, TomO, the crown prince, broke his patella, his knee cap as it is more commonly known, in a bad fall in the school gym.

Needless to say it was a traumatic time for Janet and me to see the little bloke in so much pain.

This happened on the day I was due to arrive in Kathmandu to climb Mera Peak and just ahead of the tragic news overnight of a severe earthquake involving large loss of life in Kathmandu.

TomO had surgery on Thursday to repair his patella and all went well and he is recovering at home with lots of ice-cream! Unfortunately this will keep an active young man on the benches for the next few months, but the young bounce back quickly!

My climbing partners on this trip to Nepal headed to Lukla just prior to the earthquake and I’ve had news they are okay…

Janet has always been behind my mountaineering ambition and adventures one-hundred percent, but gave me a hug this morning and said,

“Glad you didn’t go you were needed here for reasons we didn’t know at the time…”

If it had not have been for Deb’s condition, which we would change in a heart beat if we could, I would have been in Nepal. But despite her condition Deb is still looking out for her little brother in ways that big sister’s do and perhaps only the “universe” will ever understand…

Our thoughts go out to all those affected in Nepal and if you are able to support the wonderful Nepalese people via a relief fund, please do.

 

Baz – The Landy

Are we being ripped off?

Camping in a tent on the side of a mountain at heights above 6,000 metres has a number of considerations to take into account. 

Selection of the site, safety from environmental factors, and of course, staying warm is paramount!

Much of my camping above the snow line has been in New Zealand’s mountain huts, and whilst it can still be cold, the huts provide protection from the elements. So up until now my sleeping bags have been sufficiently warm enough.

Fox Glacier

But they are unlikely to provide the protection I need for this year’s two expeditions to Nepal which involve camping above 6,000 metres. So I have needed to add another sleeping to the many that already reside in our “gear room”.

There are numerous choices available from the obvious manufacturers’ such as The North Face and other popular brands. The quality produced by North Face is first rate, and this is a piece of equipment that shouldn’t be driven by cost considerations.

You want the best and it won’t necessarily be the cheapest!

But I am very reluctant and discriminating when it comes to supporting these major brands due to the differential pricing they have in place. Dependent on which country you reside in it may cost more, despite the product being precisely the same.

Try and buy a sleeping bag from the North Face in the United States and you find that it will direct you back to the Australian website and the price increases considerably.

This is a hotly debated topic in Australia covering a range of major companies!

I like to support local businesses and Australian manufacturers, whom are a dying breed mind you due to the high cost of producing anything in Australia, but a company I have supported many times is One Planet.

One Planet is an Australian based manufacturer of sleeping bags of extremely high quality and I have used and tested them on my mountaineering trips to New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

Without hesitation I contacted the company’s owner and asked would he make me a specialist sleeping bag suitable for temperatures of around minus 20 degrees Celsius – yes, no problem was the reply; we’ll get on to that straight away…

Today I took delivery of this important piece of equipment, which came at a cost far less than the equivalent from the major global brands here in Australia.

Hey, I can’t wait to be wrapped up all snuggly and warm inside it on a Himalayan mountain!

Photos, Baz – The Landy

Reality – It is what we choose to believe

Mountaineering

Do we underestimate the power of the mind, the power of positive thought?

Is anything possible, without limitation, if you give your mind’s eye a vision and allow it to believe you have already achieved it?

Okay, it will take much more than an hour or so in the lotus position every other day telling yourself you are a brain surgeon before you get to pick up a scalpel, but it all starts with a vision, right?

My countdown for this year’s two expeditions to Nepal is well underway and I am undertaking plenty of physical activity to prepare and rest assured the body is feeling it sometimes.

But just as important as my physical preparation is that I am mentally prepared.  And to take my mind off the 20-kilogram pack strapped to my back when I am out walking at silly o’clock I fill it with visions of standing atop those mountain peaks.

I picture myself telephoning my family, telling them I have summited and returned to the base-camp safely and sharing different aspects of the climb with them whilst sipping a warm mug of Sherpa tea.

Those conversations with my mind, with Janet and TomO, go right down to the detail of what is said!

Oh don’t worry, I’ve been practicing many other aspects of mountaineering these past few years, after all there are things to be learnt and practised – but that just reinforces what the mind knows it can do, right?

There are people who believe in positive affirmation, some who are not sure, and others with whom no amount of discussion will convince them it does. But let me share my own personal insight of why I know it does.

It was the mid- 1970s, I had just left school to join one of Australia’s largest banks and a month earlier I celebrated my 15th birthday. At the time the company produced a quarterly magazine called “The Etruscan” and in the very first edition I received was a story describing a day in the life of the people who undertook the bank’s money market operation…

I was enthralled, I wanted a job like that so in my mind’s eye I play-acted the people in the article, not that I actually had a clue what they really did, after all it was a short article, so I just made it up as I went – I was a natural.

Perhaps it was a bit unusual for someone of my age to be getting into this esoteric stuff, but that is what daydreamers do and I am a daydreamer. And I’m sure many will agree that a very fine line exists between dreams and reality confirmed by the days you wake up thinking, the dream I had was real….

Shortly I will have spent 40-years with this institution. Yes, 40-years, it wasn’t a typing error and for most of that time I have been managing and trading currencies in the bank’s money market operation.

You see a few years after convincing myself I was a natural at doing whatever it was they did, and following a set of events which were unrelated, I “woke” up in the bank’s trading room in front of a trading screen…

My vision of how it worked all those years ago is quite different to the sophistication of today’s global financial market, but that is just detail. I didn’t have to get the detail right all I had to do was to chant that mantra long and loud, to have a vision, to daydream and play act my part.

To simply believe!

After all, reality is what we choose to believe in…

Climb-on!

High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

everest-top

 I have been researching the impact that high altitude climbing will have on my body, what I can expect, what I can do to assist my body’s ability to cope.

And importantly, to be able to recognise the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness in its more serious forms.

Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS as it is often referred to, is the effect the declining number of molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere has on our body as we ascend in altitude. It can range from a mild illness, to the more severe life-threatening forms of the illness, such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

The latter two conditions require immediate attention and descent from altitude otherwise death is the most likely outcome.

I’m not intending to go into a great discussion on either, nor am I qualified to do so, but as part of my journey “To Climb a Mountain” I want to gain a better understanding of both conditions.

High altitude is defined as 5,000 to 11,500 feet, very high altitude 11,500 to 18,000, and extreme altitude as 18,000 feet and above.  At extreme altitudes physiologic function will outstrip  acclimatisation eventually.

My reading has taken me across a wide variety of topics, but the one that caught my attention was the connection between muscle and the requirement to fuel our muscles with oxygen when under exertion.

Over the years I have trained as a power-lifter for strength purposes and I have achieved results I am happy with.  As a consequence I have grown muscularly and currently weigh-in around the 95 kilogram mark.  This has given me a good power-for-weight ratio and has enhanced my speed on the kayak over the short to mid sprint distances.

Power-lifting has helped me develop strong legs, especially my quads through squatting, and dead-lifting.

Will this muscle help, or hinder me on the mountain as I trudge up the side of an 8,000 metre peak?

When exercising, the body, or more specifically the contracting muscles have an increased need for oxygen and this is usually achieved by a higher blood flow to these muscles.

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

Due to the less dense air at altitude the number of oxygen molecules for any given mass of air will drop. Consequently, mental and physical performance will decline, and the larger the muscles, the larger the requirement for oxygen to prevent muscular fatigue…

So what can I do?

There is not a lot that you can do to prepare for the effect of AMS, some people will adapt and perform better at altitude than others and this is hard to predict from one individual to another.

What I can do is decrease my muscle mass, and whilst that will mean a decrease in overall strength I can try and maintain the power for weight ratio balance.

The upshot of all this is that ahead of my expedition to Nepal in April I will deliberately take around 10-12 kilograms out of my frame…

The climbs in Nepal will be done without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

I won’t be changing my training routine greatly, I will maintain some weight training, rowing and kayaking, and importantly, a daily walk of around 10-kilometres with a 25-kilogram backpack at silly o’clock in the morning (that is 4:00am).

The best way to control weight change, either gaining, or losing, is via your diet and that starts in the  kitchen.

Baz – The Landy (In my home gym in the “Shed”)

 

To Climb a Mountain

Southern Alps, New Zealand

Have you noticed that I have retitled my blog?

It started as a chronicle of my mountaineering journey so it will now be known as…

 “To Climb a Mountain…with Baz – The Landy”

Mind you, I have approached this decision with some trepidation…

They say it is bad luck to change the name of a boat as it  may anger the Gods of the Seas, and given I will be climbing in a “Sea of Mountains” this year, caution is king!

As many will know I have been on a journey to climb amongst some of the world’s highest mountain peaks and have spent a good deal of time in recent years training and progressing to the point where hopefully I can reach out and touch the sky from an 8,000 metre peak in the Himalaya’s.

They say it is all about the journey and I’m a great believer in that notion. I am climbing mountains because I enjoy standing at the top and looking out, and down – the freedom this brings me is overwhelming…

And who knows where this journey will take me, Janet (Planet), and TomO!

I am heading into a pointy end of the journey with two trips to Nepal this year so I now want to bring greater focus on the journey and hence the name change.

Think of it as chanting a mantra!

Every time you see it, just say “To Climb a Mountain…” – I am firm believer in the power of the universe and that it will help me greatly.

Okay, so I’m a little weird, you knew that anyway, right!

And crikey, are you kidding me? I’ll need all the mantras and support I can get my hands on so don’t hold back!

Oh don’t worry, I’ll still post some of those Outback Australia photos from time-to-time that many of you have come to love, after all I live in the greatest country in the world and I’m happy to share it with you…

And rest assured, I’ll still be handing out a bit of a cheek when the circumstances warrant it.

But as for bad luck in changing the title.

I don’t think so, with all you wonderful people supporting me, and I’m overwhelmed at the support I am shown, there is no way bad luck will get in our way…

Stay focussed now, Baz!

Photo, Baz – New Zealand’s Southern Alps

Nepal Mountaineering Expeditions – Gearing up

DSCN0576

The call to climb amongst the highest mountains in the world has been echoing in me for a long time.

The allure of standing on top of the world and looking out, and importantly, looking down, has proven far too great to ignore these past few years…

I had expected to be in Nepal in 2013 and 2014 after spending 2012 and the early part of 2013 training in New Zealand with the world’s best high altitude experts.

But, somehow life has the propensity to throw a curved ball every so often, and I’ve had a couple to catch over the past 12-months!

Whilst New Zealand has some of the world’s most magnificent mountain peaks, it doesn’t have the altitude of the Himalayas’. My ability to adapt to the altitude is an unknown, but it will be put to the test on two expeditions to Nepal in 2015.

The first will be in April to climb Mera Peak, which stands at 6,476 metres, 21,246 feet, and in September I will attempt Himlung, a peak that stands at 7,162 metres, 23,497 feet.

Both of these climbs will be done without the use of supplemental oxygen, but there will be a rigorous acclimitisation process to ensure the best chance of success.

And hopefully these climbs will set-me up for an ascent of Cho Oyu, an 8,000 metre peak bordering Tibet and Nepal.

I am confident of my ability to adapt; certainly I don’t expect expedition life will be a problem given my remote outback experience and the hardship that often brings.

Training is in full swing, but as always, remains a work in progress, and I will be spending time climbing in the wonderful Blue Mountains in the weeks ahead…

The first ascent of Mera Peak was made on 20 May 1953, using what has now become the standard route from Mera La and no subsequent ascent occurred until 1975. We will just miss the anniversary of the first climb in 1953 by a couple of days.

We will have two camps on the mountain, camp one at Mera La and camp two, our high camp, at 5,800 metres. Our summit day will typically start before dawn and we are hopeful to summit in 4-5 hours. Some fix rope will be used near the summit where it becomes very steep.

As 2014 draws to a close, grab your climbing harness and a rope, or perhaps if you prefer, a coffee or tea and a nice comfy couch.

Either way please be sure to join me in on these climbs; one step at a time, we can do it together…

 

Baz – The Landy

Dreams come true (For those who believe)

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in name, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

I have always been encouraged by these words penned by Helen Keller.

Living life to the fullest, taking risks, knowing your limitations, these are questions I frequently ponder.

Janet thinks the same way, and is the anchor that questions the balance between risk and reward, whether you have prepared as best you could, and are you ready?

My mountaineering goals are as high as the largest mountains. I want to explore further the joy and satisfaction, the freedom and beauty that mountains bring into my life.

But I have been cognisant of the impact it has on our son, TomO, negative and positive.

We are bringing TomO up in an environment where he is encouraged to pursue his dreams and to believe that anything is possible, and from an early age he has demonstrated a willingness to throw himself at life with no holds barred…

The exuberance of youth!

Next year I will travel to Nepal in both the pre and post monsoon periods climbing on two different expeditions, first and foremost to enjoy the experience.  But the expeditions will also help prepare me for an attempt on  Cho Oyu, the world’s 6th highest mountain peak, standing at 8,200 metres.

“And what about  Mt Everest” TomO has asked.

“Do you want to climb it”

“Yes” I told him.

Prior to climbing in New Zealand’s Southern Alps  he  wrote me a note to say that one day he might be standing on top of Mt Everest with me.

I said to him “One step at a time”…

Explaining I am on a journey  that may take me there, but it isn’t my real focus just at the moment.

In fact, the journey isn’t about climbing Mt Everest either, but hopefully it will form part of the dream, the journey, to experience high altitude climbing, to see what I am capable of.

I went on to tell him that having dreams and aspirations define who we are and is part of the mosaic that is life itself.

Perhaps it is no more than a child’s feeling of wanting to follow in the footsteps of those close to them, to emulate them. But it made me smile to think that he is developing a line of thought that gives him the confidence to pursue his dreams, whatever they are.

As parents, we couldn’t ask for anything more, besides it would be wrong to dismiss or ignore…

I’ve always been a dreamer, and always will be – dreams come true if you believe in them…

I asked him was that truly a goal he would like to pursue and what motivated him?

“Yes” he said.

“How great it would be to experience that feeling of the mountains you have described to me and doing it together makes it special”.

Janet told him there is plenty of time to think it through, adding that he will need to prepare for it if that is his dream…

Perhaps the enormity of the task is lost on him presently and we place no expectations on him whatsoever, but simply want to help him understand it is important to develop and set one’s own expectations of themselves.

But it puts to the test our resolve to support him in any endeavour he wants to undertake.

I asked Janet what she thought of “her boys” heading off to Mt Everest together?

Her reply was simple and uncomplicated.

“It scares me” she said.

“But if that time comes I will proudly walk every step of the way to base camp with you and will find the inner strength and courage to wait for news from the mountain, for after all, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

 

Baz – The Landy

No Ordinary Moments; No Ordinary People; No Ordinary Lives

There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

No matter who you are, where you are, or what you are doing…

 This photograph was captured in the village of Menari, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea with myself and a truly remarkable man.

He was one of the “fuzzy-wuzzy angels” who helped Australian and American troops in the fierce jungle battles along the Kokoda Track and other places along the Papuan Coast during the second world war.

 We have much to thank them for…

 

More dope on a rope (High altitude climbing)

Baz - Chancellor Dome in Background, New ZealandFor a simple bloke who can’t even tie his shoe laces properly the prospect of climbing some of the world’s highest mountain peaks would seem just a little ambitious.

At least that would be the conventional thinking.

Not that I have ever thought of myself as conventional…

And let’s face it, Castle Hill, which prominently stands out as a feature of Townsville, the wonderful tropical North Queensland town I grew up in, is merely a speed hump when compared to the Himalayan Mountains.

But in a similar way that I am drawn to the rugged beauty of Australia’s Outback, I am lured to the mountains for much the same reason.  The solitude and magnificent beauty, a feeling that you are insignificant in the broader landscape, but equally, an important part of this picture seemingly painted on the canvas of life…

Plans are now well under way for two expeditions I will be undertaking to Nepal in 2015, my place on the expeditions confirmed, and plane tickets are booked.

The first expedition will be in April when I head to Kathmandu to climb Mera Peak.

Standing at 6,500 metres, Mera will provide a fantastic view of Cho Oyu and Mount Everest from its summit.   The trip will introduce me to the culturally stimulating world of Nepal and will assist in refining my technical skills at altitude in preparation for three other peaks I will climb in the post-monsoon period in November.

The peaks, Island Peak, Lobuche East, and Pokalde will be more technical and another opportunity to enjoy the people, culture and landscapes of the Himalayan region of Nepal.

And training for high altitude mountaineering is something I look forward to and will require lots of cardio-vascular work, and nothing beats putting on a 20-kilogram pack and walking in the hills for a few hours.

I’m excited to be back on track once again, so be sure to join me on the climbs – one step at a time, as that is what it will take as I progress towards an expedition to climb Cho Oyu, the world’s 6th highest mountain peak standing at well over 8,000 metres. That is set down for the 2016.

Strewth, I’m as excited as a rooster in a chook pen!

Baz – The Landy

Dope on a Rope

(Big Bad) Baz on  Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia

 Just hanging out, on a climb called “Sweet Dreams”…

As Dry as a Dead Dingo’s Donga

Australian Dingo in the desert
Australian Dingo in the desert (photo: Baz – The Landy)

We are off into the Australian Outback tomorrow, in fact it will be a journey of epic proportions through some of Australia’s most remote desert country.

You can read some more about our trip by clicking here.

But hey, no need to fret if you don’t spot me around your blog for a couple of weeks or so I haven’t given you the flick or anything like that, after all what else would I do during the daily commute at 6:30am in the morning if it wasn’t for your blog?

 Crikey, where else could you read about a woman in a bikini or get a fill of skinny pirates or hear  some bent woman using a very naughty word hell I love it when she talks like that as she was sweating it out.

Okay, and don’t go thinking you’re not a favourite either just ‘cause you didn’t get a mention, strewth you’re a fickle lot today, aren’t you!

I just won’t be in range for the normal communication devices to work! You know, those techo gadgets, iPhones and WiFi thingy’s…

Although, you will be able to keep tabs on me.

Yeah, that perked you back up a bit didn’t it, I can see you’re excited about that prospect… 😉

If you get a chance make sure you take a bloody look at the blog posts I have scheduled each day and by clicking The Landy link in it you’ll  see a map that shows just where we are “lost” in this Sunburnt Country of ours…

How cool is that!

Every so often I’m hoping to be able to share some of the magnificent landscapes I capture on my trusty Nikon 600 Camera, so keep an eye out for that!

I will actually be doing some running while I’m crossing the desert to prepare for the 100-kilometre running race I am lining up for this September. Yeah I’m hearing you– talk about dumb ideas spawned out the bottom of an empty beer bottle, but if you’re in need of a bit of a giggle just click here.

Rest assured the desert country will be as “dry as a dead-dingo’s donga” so you know what that means – a couple of beers a day to quench that thirst. Strewth, you wouldn’t be dead for quids!

Hey, take care, and  I can see it is no use telling you to be good, and remember the motto I live by… if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops!

 

Photo: Baz – The Landy

An Outhouse (With a view)

An Outhouse (With a view)

How is this one at Pioneer Hut high up on Fox Glacier, New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

Almost an expedition to get to the little Red House from the hut and the drop off is quite dramatic, but hey, you’ve got to love the view!

 

Photo: Baz – The Landy

Dope on a Rope (Over Australia)

How good is this… just hanging out, a dope on a rope…

Sublime Point, Blue Mountains, Australia
Sublime Point, Blue Mountains, Australia
(Big Bad) Baz on  Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia
(Big Bad) Baz on Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia
Just hanging out - On Sweet Dreams
Just hanging out – On Sweet Dreams

 

Ever played Twister? It helps!
Ever played Twister? It helps!

Strewth I’ve got to get back to some climbing, and what better place than a climb on Sweet Dreams in the Blue Mountains just to the west of Sydney…now there’s a thought!

And hey, remember, if all else fails, just take a running leap at life, see what develops and live to the motto…

“Those that don’t think it can be done shouldn’t bother the person doing it”…

If all else fails, just take a running leap at life...
If all else fails, just take a running leap at life…

(Big Bad) Baz…

Dope on a Rope – Dreaming of “Sweet-Dreams”

Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

Last night I dreamt I was back in the Blue Mountains climbing “Sweet Dreams” in the spectacular Blue Mountains, Australia…

And if you are going to dream, it might as well be a sweet dream!

I’m taking it as a good sign!

The foot is recovering extremely well from the surgery and clearly the desire to return is prodding my subconscious!

Perhaps, Brian, my father, is providing some divine intervention already, after all he spent a life time helping others and I can’t imagine he is going to stop just because he’s now pushing up daisies!

And Janet’s father, Archie, well he always thought I was a bit of “a dope” for wanting to climb amongst the world’s highest mountains, and for running around the outback and crossing deserts in a four-wheel drive, Janet and TomO in tow…

So a return to climbing and mountaineering is long overdue and will be a welcome change to the events of the past three months.

And I know many of you are great supporters in my quest to summit an 8,000-metre peak, heaven forbid, Mt Everest, and are cheering me back into the mountains…

And why Dope on a Rope I hear you ask?

Strewth, I must tell you that is how it feels sometimes!

Baz - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – Southern Alps, New Zealand

It’s a bit of a lottery (Crikey – Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Recovering

With my recovery coming along and after a fortnight off work I decided to return to the cut and thrust of foreign exchange dealing this week. 

 And don’t let on to my colleagues, but I’ve been missing them and the fun times we have, after all we’ve been doing it together for a long time!

I had a practice driving Janet’s car on the weekend, in preparation for the week ahead, as it is an automatic, enabling me to drive myself to work, and yes, I know, it isn’t quite Red Rover

But it was Monday morning and I was pleased to be heading across the Harbour Bridge and looking forward to the day ahead; after all doing nothing is hard work!

Crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge in Red Rover
Crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge in Red Rover

Well, it was short-lived!

I began to notice some pain in my calf muscle around mid-morning and was thinking it was maybe just my sitting position. I was almost inclined to the old adage “suck it up princess” but after becoming more uncomfortable I thought it best to speak with my surgeon.

It had been impressed on me that after any surgery blood clotting in your veins is possible. Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is the technical term they use, and it presents just like an aching muscle in the initial stages.

Naturally, he sent me for an immediate ultra-sound test, and yes, there is clotting; DVT evident…

So I’m now on a heavy dose of blood thinner, something I’m not too enthusiastic about, and back on the couch for another day or two to give it a chance to settle down and the medication to do its work!

Oddly enough, I suspect that if everyone who had surgery was scanned for DVT there would be a far greater number of people detected, so clearly many instances perhaps just resolve themselves or go unchecked.

However, once identified and with the risk of it becoming a more serious condition like Pulmonary embolism, it needs to be treated appropriately!

My journey to the mountains is taking a path I didn’t foresee, but I guess it is all part of the journey!

Baz - Climbing in New Zealand
Baz – Climbing in New Zealand

 

 

We all die (But how many of us truly live?)

Ourimperee Water Hole - Outback Australia
Sunrise – Ourimperee Water Hole – Outback Australia

Recently I had an exchange of thoughts around the notion that “we all die but how many of us truly live”.

But what does “truly live” really mean?

Does it mean we need to push beyond what others are doing, or scale the tallest mountain, travel the world endlessly, perhaps run the fastest marathon or lift the heaviest weight?

Maybe it could just mean sitting with a loved one and watching the sun pierce the eastern horizon as another day dawns…

And with plenty of time on my hands as I recover from recent surgery I pondered this question, in between snoozing on the day-bed, of course!

Baz and MilO
Baz and MilO

I am strongly of the view there are no ordinary moments; no ordinary people; no ordinary lives.

Crikey, therein lies the key, I thought!

There are no ordinary moments…

Whether you are travelling the world, caring for a loved one, climbing the tallest mountain, putting out the garbage, or even eating brussel sprouts.

Treat all the moments of your life, whatever you are doing, as something special and then you are truly living.

Baz traversing Mt Aurora
Baz –  traversing Mt Aurora, New Zealand

Being a climber and mountaineer, of sorts, I am inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary, not just because he was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to summit and descend Mt Everest, but because he was a very humble man, a man that always had his hand out to help others, a man who truly lived his life.

And Sir Edmund had this to say…

“I have had the world lie beneath my clumsy boots and saw the red sun slip over the horizon after the dark Antarctic winter. I have been given more than my share of excitement, beauty, laughter and friendship.

Each of us has to discover his own path – of that I am sure.

Some paths will be spectacular and others peaceful and quiet – who is to say which is the most important? For me, the most rewarding moments have not always been the great moments, for what can surpass a tear on your departure, joy on your return, and a trusting hand in yours?” Sir Edmund Hilary…

Herding Cats (Strewth – doing nothing is hard work)

Baz and MilO
Baz and MilO

Almost two weeks have passed since I had surgery on both ankles and recovery seems to be going well.  I’ve been getting plenty of rest on the couch, a few books, some movies, and lots of sleep. 

I’ll be seeing the Doctor tomorrow and will have the stitches out and my first physiotherapy session.

But I can’t wait to get back into training for the climb in Nepal this coming November, but slowly does it…

Janet and TomO on Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Janet and TomO 

And Janet & TomO have been fantastic, as usual, although Janet was heard to quip to a friend the other day, that keeping me resting is like telling our beautiful Border Collie, MilO, to sit still.

A bit like herding cats, she laughed…

MilO - The Wonder Dog
MilO – The Wonder Dog

Thanks to all for your wonderful messages of support, the best way I can repay your kind thoughts is to stand tall on those big mountains I want to climb, and give you a window into the beautiful Australian Outback at other times…

Cheers, Baz, The Landy

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy

A Question I have NEVER been asked before

I have always had a view that age is merely a statistic that, seemingly, we all need to have, but only really need if we intend to collect social security.

The question I like to ask is “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

I posed this question recently to, Tony, who has a blog titled “10,000 Miles of Experiences, Adventures and Thoughts” and he wrote the following on the topic.

My view is live life how you see fit at any time, pursue your dreams without the fear of age or what someone else thinks, holding you back.

 

We’ll all die one day, but how many of us will truly live?

Oregon Coast Cyclist

In my post about crevasses (I Have to Cross What?) I mentioned that I am pushing 50 and getting too old for mountaineering stuff anymore.

Well I have a new follower, Baz the Landy, who asked me “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were???”

That stopped me dead in my tracks.  I’ve heard “You are only as old as you feel.”  “Act your age!” “I’m a kid at heart” etc, but this question got me to do some serious thinking.

What if I woke up without a memory of my date of birth AND no access to mirrors (cuz I look older than dirt in my opinion (sorry babe, my wife HATES when I say that, but I digress…)) How old would I think I am??

On any given day, I still feel like a college kid.  Somewhere in my early 20s.  I…

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My Chiropractor (Cracks me up)

Recovery

I’m sure we’ve all had one of those nights where you toss and turn, unable to sleep, your mind solving the problems of the world.

And with plenty of time to spare reviewing that bucket list that has been gathering dust…

I had one last night…

I tossed and turned in the early hours this morning, hindered by a plaster cast on my left leg, some minor discomfort in my right foot, and an aching neck, possibly brought about by not sleeping in the usual position I might normally.

I’m not one to create bucket lists to be honest, but my mind’s eye did turn to the climbing I have planned over the next few years, I could see those tall peaks in Nepal and Tibet with me making my way to the summits.

A boy who dreamed of big mountains
A boy who dreamed of big mountains

I think it even brought a smile to my face…

And of course my attention focused back to the here and now, the recovery I need to make from the recent surgery, the exercise program I need to undertake, which will include trail running and hill running; high intensity training on the rowing machine and out on the water on one of my racing kayaks, and I’m even contemplating Muay Thai boxing for specific conditioning.

Baz - Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz – Terrigal Beach, Australia

Not to forget the technical mountaineering skills, getting back out into the Blue Mountains to hone those skills with the team from the Australian School of Mountaineering, especially self-rescue skills.

Baz - Climbing "Sweet Dream" Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing “Sweet Dream” Blue Mountains, Australia

After all it is great until it goes all wrong, so best I have the skills to deal with that!

Even practicing something seemingly easy, but in reality is quite difficult, handling ropes and tying knots with large snow gloves on.

And for someone with a handful of thumbs, and even has trouble tying shoe-laces this is something I need to work on…

Baz -  Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia (Um,not the time for too many thumbs?)

I’m sure I must have breezed in and of sleep, but as the first rays of light were piercing the eastern skyline that “crink” in my neck ruled out any more sleep for me. Mind you, normally I would be heading for The Shed at this time of the day to exercise…

The Shed
The Shed (The Font of all knowledge)

I lay there, this time no thought of a bucket list, or climbing, or exercising, just my mind’s eye counting down the minutes to my chiropractic appointment with Greg, the owner of Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic in downtown Sydney.

I have had my body adjusted by the team at the clinic at least once every fortnight for years, and needless to say I am a great fan of this centuries old treatment…

And we usually get a couple of laughs in between the contorted positions I’m placed in.

All I can say is, I hope he cracks me up today!

The Road to Recovery (Back at home)

Baz - Recovering
Baz – Recovering in the backyard

The miracle of modern medicine and surgery has me at home already, recovering from the surgery I had on both of my ankles late last week…

My doctor is very happy with the procedures and results.

I had an endoscopy on my right ankle to clear some bone debris from a skydiving accident in 2008, and a couple of spurs that had formed.

The left heel was opened completely and the Achilles tendon detached to repair a split which apparently was mostly due to degeneration and to clean the heel of a couple of spurs and a boney protrusion, commonly known as a Haglund’s Bump.  Because it was detached I have had to have two anchor screws placed to enable the Achilles to be sewn back on.

My sport’s doctor had tried some conventional and non-conventional non-surgical therapy on my left foot, including Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections that provided only moderate results.

I’m now recuperating at home and the doctor has suggested two to three weeks of complete rest to hopefully assist in a quicker recovery. Mobility is a problem as my left foot cannot take any weight at all, although my right foot can take weight, which is useful for getting around.

The plan is to progressively introduce some weight and physiotherapy to both feet over the coming month and we are hoping for a full recovery within three months.

Of course, that is the plan, and whilst it is unlikely to be earlier, it may take longer.

Baz - Grey's Peak, New Zealand
Baz – New Zealand

I have until mid-August to confirm my place on the expedition to Nepal in November, so plenty of time to recover and train, hopefully.

And to all, thanks very much for your kind words of support and I’m confident I’ll be back to doing what I love very soon…just being Out and About having fun!

Baz - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – The Landy, Out and About having fun

Strewth, Crikey, Fair dinkum (Stone the ‘flamin crows even)

Baz - Climbing in New Zealand
Baz – Climbing in New Zealand

Now I know some of you might just be wondering when is Baz going to get Out and About in those mountains again and take us on that journey to the really big mountains.

Don’t worry, I’m with you on this one, I’ve been wondering the same thing!

I am missing the mountains.

Anyway, as I was telling you recently, I have had an Achilles Tendon problem that has not responded to conventional treatment, so tomorrow, Thursday, I will be going “under the knife” so to speak to have the problem surgically corrected!

Baz - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz Southern Alps, New Zealand

I’m quite positive about the outcome and can’t wait, in fact, I’m quite looking forward to it as it signals the road to recovery, another step forward on the journey to the top of the world’s highest mountains, heaven forbid, the aspiration I have to climb Mt Everest…

There is so much to learn, to absorb, and I guess I’ll have plenty of “free reading time” over the next couple of weeks while I rehabilitate from the initial surgery, which by the way is on both ankles!

Two for the price of one (Yeah, okay Doc, I know you never said that).

Baz - Climbing in the Blue Mountains
Baz – Climbing in the Blue Mountains

 But crikey, bring it on I say

My lovely sister-in-law, that would be Janet’s sister, Leah, has suggested it is best I take a rest from my blog, Baz – The Landy (Out and About having fun) for a day or two. She reckons all you’ll be getting is a morphine induced rambling of strewth’s and crikey’s from the hospital bed. 😉

Good advice, perhaps!

Double Trouble - The Fawthrop Girls...
Double Trouble – The Fawthrop Girls…Janet and Leah

Fair dinkum, she can read me like a book…

So see you mob in a few days, hey!

And hey, I’ll accept all “likes” as a hang in there and get better quickly, Baz!

Strewth – The Surgeon is sharpening his knife

Baz - One step at a time
Baz – One step at a time

Knife or Scalpel, the choice is yours, but the mere utterance of the word scalpel has me reaching for my head, the thought of being scalped sends a shiver up my spine!

A little while back I wrote about an Achilles tendon issue I was having in my left foot.

This has been a longer term problem, my Achilles Heel literally, that has plagued my training, at times, and climbing on other occasions.  It has certainly become worse recently.

A course of treatment using PRP injections has been moderately successful, but not fixed the problem.

As it stands presently it needs to be resolved ahead of my climbing expedition to Nepal in November for two reasons, firstly I cannot achieve the level of training I need to undertake, and secondly, and most importantly, it will compromise my climbing ability, with a potential flow on effect to others.

Climb-On
Climb on

So the surgeon has booked me in for next Thursday to treat the affected area, by scrapping the bone, and “cleaning up” the tendon area.  This involves a partial detachment of the Achilles tendon.  The procedure on the right ankle is very straight forward; they simply chisel off the spurs which may have been caused by a sky diving mishap from a few years back!

You can get the download on that little misadventure in “Butt your Bum’s Broken“.

Baz skydiving at Picton, Australia
Baz skydiving at Picton, Australia

And you can see from my clinical description of the problem that I’m no medico, but I’m working on the principle that the bigger the medical words, the bigger the doctor’s bill.

In all fairness though, he could have at least waited until I had left the clinic before upgrading his vacation flight to the South of France from cattle class to first class…

But I’m digressing!

Having two legs out of action at the same time will literally see me flat out on my back for at least for a couple of weeks, before I become more mobile once again.

Whilst not ideal to have both done at the same time from a recovery perspective, it will at least give me the best chance of making the expedition to Nepal in November.

At this time I have put the expedition to the back of my mind as I need to have this resolved before giving it any more thought. Although my surgeon is confident I can recover quickly and get back to training.  We are hoping for a full 4 months of intense training.

Baz - heading up "The Hill"
Baz – heading up “The Hill” on a training run

Now I know that sounds disappointing and it may not come to pass, but if it does I am simply viewing it as another step in the climb towards the world’s highest peaks. So rest assured I won’t be beating myself up about it…that would just be a waste of time and energy!

There is only one way – forward; and only one speed setting – go!

Baz - Climbing Sweet Dreams
Baz – Climbing Sweet Dreams

I told TomO I am buying one of those little bells you see in the Manor Houses, so I can give it a ring when I need something!

Like on Downton Abbey.

Crikey, not that I watch Downton Abbey (fair dinkum, I’ve opened a can of worms for myself, haven’t I)

I think I read about it on the back of a cereal box…(you do believe me, don’t you – no?)

Okay I watch Downton Abbey, but only every episode!

But back to TomO, his eyes rolled, and Janet chirped in with “in your dreams Baz, in your dreams”…

Janet and TomO on Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Janet and TomO on Fox Glacier, New Zealand

I’m sure they’ll take good care of me though and I’ll keep you all posted!

In the meantime, if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops!

This approach seems to work well for us, well mostly, broken butt’s aside!

What – Me Inspiring? (Someone’s had the beer googles on)

Baz - Mt Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – Mt Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Recently I was nominated for an Inspiring Blogger Award, for which I am truly humbled.

 I understand there is a protocol for responding to these nominations, kindly made by Christina Waschko, author and owner of the “Strawberry Lounge” in the Netherlands, and by Kevan, a Canadian Expat living in the Czech Republic.  

Christina authors a blog Very Berry Extraordinary, and Kevan’s writing can be viewed at Beyond Prague.  

First and foremost I would like to say to both Christina and Kevan, thankyou!

I am overwhelmed by the many comments I receive on a daily basis in support of my journey and in response to what I have written, my rantings. 

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy

I’m just an ordinary Aussie bloke who tries not to take life too seriously, but to simply enjoy life for what it is, to take it on the chin when I need to, have a good laugh at myself at other times, and to take the mickey out of anyone that is fair game!

Strewth, who would ever have thought you lot would be interested in the ramblings of someone with a few ‘roos loose in the top paddock, and who wants to climb the world’s tallest mountains.

But crikey, I do love talking about the sun-drenched country I live in with my wonderful family…

In fact, given half a chance, I’d talk the leg off a kitchen table telling you about it…

Oh, for crying out loud Baz, just say it, you’re amongst friends here, Australia’s the best flamin’ country in the world, mate…

And I can’t help but write about my very supportive family, the beautiful people in my life, Janet and TomO, and of the love they give me, unconditionally…

Janet and TomO
Janet and TomO

Writing of lazy afternoons down by the lake with friends, of rock-faces in the Blue Mountains, and of course, my rather audacious plan to climb high mountains, of the dream I have to go to the top of the world, to climb Mt Everest…

Every day on Wordspress, millions of words are written by ordinary people, stories about the challenges life has thrown at them, what they have done, and continue to do to overcome them.

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

About their very own Mt Everest…

People who want to improve their fitness, to lose weight, to cycle across a city,  or across the world.

Baz - Climb on
Baz – Climb on

Many have their sights set on a fun run, and others having completed one, setting their sights towards running a marathon.

For others, it is their challenge to become stronger, to be able to lift more, or about capturing that once in a life-time photograph, perhaps testing a new recipe to share with friends, or with people they have never met.

The Shed
The Shed

Others talk about health and lifestyle challenges they struggle with, that they have overcome.

I read as many of them as I can, for they motivate me and  provide me with much needed inspiration…

Seemingly, there is always someone in this cyberspace community ready to reach out, to congratulate, to console…

These people aren’t super-elite athletes, or neither five-star chefs, nor are they fitness gurus.

They have a much greater status than that, for they are simply ordinary people – they are you!

Each and every one of you is helping me to find the courage to overcome the challenges and barriers that sometimes stand in the way of my own dreams…

I take great inspiration from you all and I won’t single any one person out, for you are all very special to me – and from the bottom of my heart thank you for enriching my life by rewarding me with a window into yours!

There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

And remember, if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops!

We're always out of control - and loving it!
We’re always out of control – and loving it!

High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

I have been researching the impact that high altitude climbing will have on my body, what I can expect, what I can do to assist my body’s ability to cope.

And importantly, to be able to recognise the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness in its more serious forms.

Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS as it is often referred to, is the effect the declining number of molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere has on our body as we ascend in altitude. It can range from a mild illness, to the more severe life-threatening forms of the illness, such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

The latter two conditions require immediate attention and descent from altitude otherwise death is the most likely outcome.

I’m not intending to go into a great discussion on either, nor am I qualified to do so, but as part of my “journey to the mountains” and extreme  altitude climbing I want to gain a better understanding of both conditions.

High altitude is defined as 5,000 to 11,500 feet, very high altitude 11,500 to 18,000, and extreme altitude as 18,000 feet and above.  At extreme altitudes physiologic function will outstrip  acclimatisation eventually.

My reading has taken me across a wide variety of topics, but the one that caught my attention was the connection between muscle and the requirement to fuel our muscles with oxygen when under exertion.

Over the years I have trained as a power-lifter for strength purposes and I have achieved results I am happy with.  As a consequence I have grown muscularly and currently weigh-in around the 95 kilogram mark.  This has given me a good power-for-weight ratio and has enhanced my speed on the kayak over the short to mid sprint distances.

Power-lifting has helped me develop strong legs, especially my quads through squatting, and dead-lifting.

Will this muscle help, or hinder me on the mountain as I trudge up the side of an 8,000 metre peak??

When exercising, the body, or more specifically the contracting muscles, have an increased need for oxygen and this is usually achieved by a higher blood flow to these muscles.

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

Due to the less dense air at altitude the number of oxygen molecules for any given mass of air will drop. Consequently, mental and physical performance will decline. The larger the muscles, the larger the requirement for oxygen to prevent muscular fatigue…

So what can I do?

There is not a lot that you can do to prepare for the effect of AMS, some people will adapt and perform better at altitude than others and this is hard to predict from one individual to another.

What I can do is decrease my muscle mass. Whilst that will mean a decrease in overall strength I can try and maintain the power for weight ratio balance.

The upshot of all this is that ahead of my expedition Nepal where I will be climbing three 6,000 metre peaks, including Lobuche East, I will deliberately take around 12-15 kilograms out of my frame…

The climbs in Nepal will be done without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Essentially, I will not change my training routine at all, I will maintain my same level of weight training, kayaking, rowing and other activities. I have found the best way to control weight change, either gaining, or losing, is via the kitchen and diet.

In fact I won’t even modify my diet to any great extent, simply quantity control.

Baz - Meteor Peak
Baz – Meteor Peak

Shelter from the storm (Almer Hut – New Zealand)

Shelter from the storm (Almer Hut - New Zealand)

Almer Hut is situated high on top of the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

The red building has been a welcome sight to many who have traversed this fantastic country.

At the time I passed through it was sitting just below the snow line and the area offered great views to the mountains and the Tasman Sea.

New Zealand, you’ve got to love it, an adventurer’s playground…

photo: Baz, The Landy 

Stop using the “F” Word – There is no such thing as failure

Baz - Climbing in New Zealand
Baz – Climbing in New Zealand

Recently I was invited to give a talk about my journey into the mountains and my quest to climb amongst the world’s highest peaks.

And crikey, let me tell you, I could talk the leg off a kitchen table if given half-a-chance to do so, especially when it is something I feel passionate about, so I jumped at the chance…

But what was the message I wanted to give was a question I asked myself.

After all, not everyone wants to climb mountains, but we all have our “own” Mt Everest that we want to scale.

Seemingly, all too often we hold ourselves back because of a fear of failure and I thought this would be the perfect theme for my talk…

I have written on this topic previously, but it was great to be able to talk it out aloud…

Grey's Peak New Zealand
Baz on top of Grey’s Peak, New Zealand

 Stop using the “F” Word – There is no such thing as failure

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about my rather audacious plan to climb the world’s highest mountains.

To climb as many of the world’s 8,000 metre peaks as I can.

Heaven forbid to climb to the top of Mt Everest.

Of course, standing on top of Mt Everest is an aspiration, not a goal in its own right, but part of a journey I have embarked on.

My reason is no simpler, or more complicated than wanting to see what I am capable of, what I can achieve, to explore new horizons, to develop as a person and to grow in the face of difficulty.

If there is one thing I have discovered since embarking on this journey of discovery is the  need to be brutally honest as you come face to face with yourself.

It is a place where your ego is best left at the bottom of the mountain and you must be true to yourself at all times.

Of course, you don’t need to head to the mountains to practice that attribute.

And I’ll talk more about the mountains later.

I have themed today’s discussion around the notion that that there is no such thing as failure.

Failure is a word I’ve never been comfortable with and I’m sure it doesn’t sit well with others. But for many, not achieving a goal they’ve set out to achieve often leads to despair, feelings of not succeeding.

It can be deflating…

Life is a learning experience, a journey that we are all on and we should never consider anything we do as a failure.

Maybe there are times we wish that we might have done something differently and there is nothing wrong with that.

But we should all think of our experiences as the building blocks that create the mosaic of who we are.

A review of most dictionaries will give a number of definitions of failure, but the common theme is “the condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends”.

Now I understand that many of you are students and are looking at me and thinking that when I do a test I will either obtain a pass mark or a fail mark.

So how could you say there is no such thing as failure.

My answer to you is it is the way in which we interpret the signal that the mark or result is giving us.

An exam result tells us the level of understanding we have, a high mark might indicate a greater level of understanding and a lower mark that more work on the topic is required.

Importantly, it gives us feedback that we can move forward with and if it signals a need for greater understanding on the subject than the exam result has been successful in conveying that to us.

That doesn’t sound like failure to me?

Mind you during my school days I received plenty of feedback that more learning was indeed needed.

But let me tell you a bit more about my journey into the mountains.

I have always had a keen interest in hiking and camping and have spent many nights out under the stars in the Australian bush, in the outback.

Shared in the company of friends, or alone at other times.

There is something quite satisfying about walking across open plains, over hills, to sit down by a campfire at the end of the day to reflect on the journey.

And yes, I am a daydreamer, so I spend plenty of time reflecting, dreaming on what I would like to do, what path I would like my life to take.

In fact I often play role games with myself, picturing myself doing the exact thing I desire to do.

As a young and new entrant to the Bank of New South Wales, I recall reading an article in “The Etruscan” a publication the bank produced for its staff that talked about money market traders in the bank’s head office..

It was 1975 and the money market operations would have been significantly different to those in operation today.

I must have only been about five-years old at the time, surely?

It sounded exciting even if I didn’t quite understand what they really did. But I played out that role of money market dealer many times in my dreams, in my mind’s eye.

I wanted to do this, to be one of these people, whoever “these” people were.

Today I sit in the bank’s Sydney financial markets dealing room transacting billions of dollars of foreign exchange, money market and commodity transactions weekly for the bank.

It started as a simple day dream…

The seeds were sown in my mind’s eye.

Perhaps I was far too young and care-free to think that I would ever fail…

The power of the mind is not fully understood and I’m no expert on the subject, but I came to the realisation a long time ago that your mind can be fooled into believing anything.

In fact, it doesn’t seem to know what is real or what is not real.

Seemingly, it just accepts what we tell it as truth.

The importance of positive reinforcement in our mind is clear to me and the reason I never use the “F” word.

Have I seen myself standing on top of Mt Everest?

You bet I have, but of course there is still a lot of work I need to do before I make an attempt on the summit of the world’s highest mountain.

But many times I have seen myself waving to the folks at home from the top of the world.

Returning to the safety of loved ones and friends.

A couple of years ago someone casually mentioned to me that they were surprised I hadn’t climbed Mt Everest.

At the time I was rather taken by this comment.

Sure I love the outdoors and keep very active and fit – and I must confess to having thought about Mt Everest in passing at different times.

And I have been an avid reader of books about those who had tried and succeeded.

But climb it myself?

I pondered on this quietly for a long time not even sharing my thoughts with close family.

Eventually I realised the seed that had been planted was already flourishing in the fertile soils of an adventurous spirit.

I wanted to experience the feeling of standing on top of a mountain that I had climbed.

But not any mountain, the world’s highest mountains.

And what a great opportunity this would present to learn new skills and to test my boundaries, to see what I was truly capable of.

Of course it would also give me a reason to keep training and to be fit.

I am constantly working on my fitness and ultimately you can probably never be fit enough to climb at high altitude, in the death-zone above 7,000 metres.

Most days I train in the pre-dawn hours up in my Shed which is full of various weight lifting and exercise equipment. And on weekends, kayaking on Narrabeen Lake on Sydney’s northern beaches, or climbing and hiking in the mountains.

But it isn’t just about physical training.

Training your mind is just as important, if not more so…

You can practice by reinforcing it with positives each and every day.

By picturing yourself achieving and guarding against negative thoughts and self-doubt.

I am focussing on the technical skills of mountaineering that I need to master. Rope handling skills, tying knots, learning to walk across snow and ice in crampons.

It has been like learning to walk all over again.

These are all new skills to be learnt, that I am learning.

And for someone who grew up in tropical North Queensland and played in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, my exposure to snow and ice up until recent times has been limited to a European holiday many years ago.

I am fortunate to have a very supportive partner, Janet, and son, TomO, who have both chorused they’re support loudly.

And when it comes to the mountains and high altitude climbing, we have discussed the risks associated with it, but never to the point of dwelling on it.

We  understand the risks and Janet simply said get the best training that money will buy, apply what you learn, be safe and remember to leave always your ego at the base of the mountain.

And Janet frequently reminds me that getting to the top of the mountain is optional, knowing how to get back down safely is mandatory.

I’m sure you will agree that is sound advice indeed.

Thankfully I am being tutored by the great team at the Australian School of Mountaineering in Katoomba, and Guy Cotter and his team from Adventure Consultants in New Zealand.

Both organisations are leaders in their fields…

The task has seemed overwhelming at times, especially for someone that has trouble tying his shoe-laces.

Yes, I have trouble tying my shoelaces, although with Tomo’s expert guidance I have made great inroads into mastering this task in recent times.

A sound accomplishment in an environment where successfully tying the appropriate knot is a good skill to have.

At least you would think so, wouldn’t you?

I have found a love of climbing in the Blue Mountains and whilst there is always a serious side to scaling rock walls and cliffs, we have managed to have many laughs along the way.

I can recall a very nervous laugh from one of my climbing partners, an instructor from the Australia School of Mountaineering, when I casually mentioned that I could not tie my shoe laces.

That was after I had just tied a safety rope that he was attached to.

I did see him checking that knot soon after.

And who would blame him for that I would have if I was him.

And at the end of each climb we have sat back and reflected on what went well and what could be improved on.

But even on less successful days the “F” word has never used because it is a learning experience and on each of my forays into the Bluey’s we have identified plenty of things that I can improve on.

In January this year I travelled to New Zealand’s South Island to further my experience and to climb Mt Aspiring.

Mt Aspiring, the Matterhorn of the South as it is often referred to as, stands at just over 3,000 metres and is a very impressive and majestic mountain.

This was a follow up to some training I did on the Fox Glacier in New Zealand perfecting my ice and snow skills last September, but I still needed some revision work prior to our ascent of Aspiring.

Unfortunately the weather was conspiring against us and we had little preparation time.

Arriving at Colin Todd Hut high on the Bonar Glacier we needed to make our attempt the very next morning as the weather was forecast to deteriorate as the week progressed, making an attempt less likely as time passed by.

In some ways I was pleased that I had little time to think about the climb, but I was anxious that it was going to happen the very next day.

How would I go?

We headed off around 4am in the morning under clear skies and whilst progress was slow we were advancing towards our objective.

As we climbed to around the half-way point and having passed through some of the more difficult sections, the weather took a turn for the worse, the wind started to blow a gale over the summit and it would be impossible to continue safely.

We were exposed to sleet, strong winds and rain as we descended, necessitating quick and efficient application of the skills I had been learning.

This was the real deal…and efficient use of time to minimise our exposure was paramount.

Now was not the time to be fumbling around with ropes in the cold on the side of a mountain.

Eventually we returned to the hut, tired after about 8 hours of mountaineering.

Over a warm cup of tea we were able to reflect on the climb.

Of course the objective was to summit, to climb to the top. It would have been all too easy to think that we had failed in our objective.

But this was anything but a failure, the lessons learned on the mountain were invaluable.

Lessons of judgement, skills and confidence.

In fact, I feel I gained more from not making it to the summit that day and whilst you wouldn’t always want that as an outcome – this was no failure.

The lessons learned on Mt Aspiring will assist me greatly as I have joined an expedition to climb in Nepal later this year.

In November I will be heading to Kathmandu and into the Himalaya’s to climb three 6,000 metre high peaks.

Loubche East, Island Peak and Pokalde.

These mountains range in height from 5,800 to 6,200 metres and at those heights another complexity will be added.

A lack of oxygen.

The available oxygen declines as we go higher in altitude making tasks that would be simple and easy at sea level much more difficult in the rarefied air.

This is the post-monsoon season in the Himalaya’s and temperatures will also be quite cold, especially at altitude.

The expedition will provide me with a great introduction to climbing at higher altitudes and will hopefully provide the much needed experience to climb my first 8,000 metre peak, Cho Oyu in Tibet, in 2014.

Of course, it will also be an opportunity to take in the stunning views of the world’s highest mountains.

And Janet and TomO will travel to Nepal at the end of the expedition so we can experience the culture and warmth of the Nepalese people together.

Something we are all looking forward to.

It is important to us that we share the experience together as a family and whilst neither will climb the mountains with me, they both show tremendous courage as all whom wait for news from the mountains does.

Although TomO has already declared that one day he hopes we will stand together, arm-in-arm, on top of Mt Everest.

We are committed to bringing him up in an environment that encourages him to believe he can achieve anything he wants to, whatever that might be.

To understand that the possibilities will only be limited by his own imagination, his own insecurities.

Lead by example has always been our motto and what greater feedback could you receive than your son telling you he is ready and willing to take on the world and believing he can!

I think it is important to never lose sight of the fact that all journeys can only be made one step at a time and that each and every one of those steps is a learning opportunity for us all.

Use each of these steps, these moments, to reinforce the positive aspects of learning and reject anything negative.

And as you make your journey through this year, through life, accept everything as a learning experience.

Don’t ever let the fear of failure hold you back, but better still…

Never use the “F” word.

Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains (And a dope on a rope)

Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

Boar’s Head is a beautiful part of the Blue Mountains situated very close to the villages of Katoomba and Leura.

And only a two-hour drive to the west of Sydney

You can abseil about 150 metres towards the valley floor and then climb back out, or abseil another 100 metres and walk out…

The wall to the right of the Boar’s Head, highlighted by the different colouring, is the climb out and there are a couple of different routes you can take. 

And crikey, how special is that view of “Narrow Neck” the plateau visible in the background…

Baz - Climbing out Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing out Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

One step at a time (The only way forward)

Baz, Southern Alps, New Zealand
One step at a time – Baz, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Often I’m awe-struck when I think about the journey I have embarked on to climb amongst the world’s highest mountains. 

Sometimes it is so big that I just think about all the small steps I have taken so far.

The fun I’ve had… the fun and tears that are yet to come.

Yes, one step at a time Baz, it’s the only way forward…

Hey, by the way, thanks for joining me on this journey, I’ll need all the support I can get to help me climb to the summit…and back down again!

Baz, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz, Blue Mountains, Australia

One problem at a time Sarge (One problem at a time)

The other day I was caught up in what seemed to be a never-ending stream of problems, you know the sort of day.

Nothing was going right, everyone and everything was conspiring against me. One problem after another, mounting, crushing, the world on my shoulders, leaving me pleading why was this happening to me?

In reality the world wasn’t going to come to an end, the sun had risen in the east, and in all likelihood it was going to set in the west, and a few deep breathes would probably have dispatched the garbage that was mostly going on inside my head to the trash…

But it did get me thinking why do we allow seemingly insignificant problems to morph into something that requires the Fantastic Four to resolve?

Human nature was my guess.

And then I recalled a quote by Frank MacAlyster, a member of the US Military’s elite Delta Force. Frank was involved in an operation to help free US hostages being held inside the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in the early 1980s.

The story is recounted in the book ‘Inside Delta Force’, by Eric Hany.

As the doomed rescue attempt unfolded Frank was sound asleep in a US C-130 Hercules aircraft that was parked on the ground inside Iran.

He awoke to intense flames licking all around him, the aircraft was on fire.

Frank thought the aircraft was airborne, but the intensity of the fire left him no choice, he jumped from the plane without a parachute and went into a skydivers arch.

Of course he fell for only a fraction of a second before hitting the ground.

Frank had assessed his options and jumped. It must have taken a lot of courage. Death was almost a certainty, but he was buying time at least.

I reflected on this and thought that even under intense pressure Frank was still thinking through his problems and wasn’t letting the situation clutter his thinking, and by this time there were any number of problems to deal with. Of course the first was to survive.

What could I learn from that?

Meteor Peak
Meteor Peak

How could Frank’s experience help me as I pursue my goal of high altitude climbing, and how might it help others to deal with their own ‘burning aircraft’?

When asked a few days later by his Superior what he was going to do once he was out of the plane without a parachute, Frank replied…

“One problem at a time Sarge, one problem at a time.”

 

Climbing Mt Everest (Drinking Ovaltine all the way)

Mt Everest
Mt Everest

Looking back at old photographs is like opening a time capsule, you just never know what you are going to find and usually there are one or two little gems to bring a smile to your face.

I was at Janet’s parents home recently, Clare and Archie who are 83 and 98 years of age, and over a cup of tea we were flicking through books of old photographs. 

The themes varied from trips overseas, the children growing up, and of Archie’s  childhood in India.

Archie and younger sister Marjorie
Archie and younger sister Marjorie

You could pick any photograph and Archie would narrate a rich account of when it was taken, and the story behind those who were in it.

And there were photographs of Clare’s childhood days, growing up in far western Queensland on the family’s sheep property and of her days at boarding school in Charters Towers, far North Queensland.

Clare's Family Home - Charters Towers, North Queensland, Australia
Clare’s Family Home – Charters Towers, North Queensland, Australia

The conversation turned to our upcoming adventures and my journey to climb Cho Oyu, an 8,000 metre peak,  which is close to where Archie grew up, and if all goes well, Mt Everest.

Over the years I have listened to the many stories of Archie’s trips to Darjeeling, situated  in the foothills of the Himalaya’s and in later years of visits both he and Clare made back to Calcutta.

One story that always brings a good laugh is about a mountaineering expedition group  who turned up at the offices of James Wright and Company, General Merchants, the family business in Calcutta.  The suave and handsome couple heading the expedition  were in a rather irate mood as they stepped out of the taxi, demanding to know why they had not been met at the ship upon their arrival.

Being general merchants, Archie and his father dealt in all kind of goods, and were the agent’s in India for the popular drink Ovaltine.

“These mountaineers were here to climb Mt Everest and they were going to drink Ovaltine all the way to the top, extolling its virtues to the world.”

It had all been arranged in England prior to their departure and there was surprise and indignation that they had not been afforded the courtesies expected upon their arrival. They even had a copy of the telegram from the Head of the company that made Ovaltine in England informing of their visit.

This was a gentlemanly age and young Archie arranged for the expedition to be put up at a first class hotel where they could rest after their long sea voyage and ahead of their attempt to climb Mt Everest.

Archie
A Young Archie

And rest and avail themselves they did indeed…

Of course, there was to be no attempt on Mt Everest as the mountaineers were well practiced con people. After spending a number of nights in the luxury of the first class hotel, taking advantage of the young Fawthrop’s generous hospitality, they disappeared into the night, leaving Archie with an expensive hotel bill and the need to provide an account to his father of how he had been done by a slick group of con artists’.

But he could be forgiven, after all Ovaltine accompanied Sir Edmund Hilary on his ascent of Mt Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and the company went on to sponsor Chris Bonnington’s 1975 Everest expedition.

Archie, Clare and Tenzing

And speaking of Tenzing Norgay, as we continued our journey through the albums one particular photograph caught my attention, a black and white snapshot of Clare and Archie, with Tenzing Norgay standing beside them.

On a visit to Darjeeling, Archie and Clare met and spoke with Tenzing, a remarkable and quietly spoken man they said, whilst dining at the Darjeeling Club.

TomO was very excited at the discovery, a link to where we will travel this year when I attempt to climb three 6,000 metre peaks, Lobuche East, Island Peak, and Pokalde, all situated not too far from Mt Everest.

Baz traversing Mt Aurora
Baz traversing Mt Aurora

Was the Ovaltine story and the photograph a sign-post on our own journey, I thought.  

A connection to the region brought about from Archie’s younger days?   In the least, it will enrich the experience for us…

And as I climb in  the Himalaya’s Archie’s Ovaltine story will be sure to put a smile on my face, warming me like a hot cup of Ovaltine on a bleak winter’s night…

Baz - Meteor Peak
Baz – Meteor Peak

Don’t use the “F” word – Failure is Success (If we learn from it)

The Buttress - Mt Aspiring
The Buttress – Mt Aspiring

January was such a whirlwind of fun, mountaineering in the Southern Alps of one of the best countries in the world, New Zealand.

 Of course, it wasn’t all mountaineering and there was plenty of family time doing some crazy things together.

 Now I do have this rather audacious plan to climb some of the world’s highest mountains, heaven forbid, Mt Everest does beckon, but of course even contemplating that is some time off just at the moment.

My next major expedition will be to Nepal in November of this year. It sounds so far away doesn’t it?

Baz - Pack-walk up Heaton's Gap
Baz – Pack-walk up Heaton’s Gap

I have much preparation to do ahead of it and I suspect time will fly past very quickly. I need to increase my fitness with plenty of long-distance pack walking, as well as hone my climbing and rope handling skills; after all as they say practice makes us perfect.

Baz - Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

And of course, climbing to altitudes in excess of 6,000 metres will require some new equipment, so plenty of gear reviews and shopping lie in the months ahead.

Shoosh, I might just not let on to Janet about that just yet!

But anyway, I’m starting to rabbit on a bit now, so I’ll get to my point…

Many people have asked about how the trip went and did I get to the summit of Mt Aspiring.

Mt Aspiring viewed from Bevan Col
Mt Aspiring viewed from Bevan Col

Unfortunately the answer was no. The weather conspired against us about halfway up and  we decided to turn back, to continue on would have been dangerous…

But none-the-less, it was a successful climb.

It would be easy to think of it as a failure…but I had a great smile on my face!

Not hard to smile in this spectacular place!
Not hard to smile in this spectacular place!

Failure is a word I’ve never been comfortable with and I’m sure it doesn’t sit well with many others. But for many, not achieving a goal you’ve set out to achieve often leads to despair, feelings of not succeeding – of failure.

 It can be deflating…

For me, not getting to the summit of Mt Aspiring was not a failure; in fact I found it a great learning experience.  Turning back involved taking account of many factors; of course the most important was weather, which was pretty much a no-brainer as the wind was raging in excess of 100 kilometres per hour over the summit.

Weather closing in
Weather closing in

Assessing the situation, making the correct decision at the appropriate time, and of course acting on it was an important lesson in human factors” especially as we stood on the mountain, exposed to the elements; to the increasing wind and sleet…

All too often it has been found that people have identified that a new course of action needs to be taken and whilst they’ve understood what it was they needed to do they’ve failed to implement the new plan until it was too late.

The experience highlighted the importance of being efficient and proficient whilst remaining safe, especially at a time when external factors were having an adverse affect on the undertaking.

Baz - upwards and onwards
Baz – upwards and onwards

A very important lesson, especially given my rather audacious plan of climbing high mountains!

So should we get rid of “failure” from our vocabulary?

No, I think it has a place.

After all, Janet did highlight to me the other day that I had failed to take out the garbage, and for sure it could count as a learning experience, but failure summed it up perfectly…

The garbage truck had just passed our home and wouldn’t be back for another week and those words “you failed a very simple task” are still ringing in my ears…

So next time you haven’t achieved your goal will you use the “F word?”

I know you won’t…  Just think of it has a learning experience on your way to success…

But mind you, if all else does fail,  just feel free to remain out of control and see what develops…

Baz and TomO - Just remain out of control...!
Baz and TomO – Just remain out of control…!

Dropping into the office (sure beats taking the lift)

Baz and Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney
Baz and Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney

Speaking about returning to work after my sojurn in New Zealand, there is no truth in the rumour that I abseil in each day.

 But it would be fun!

 Janet and I abseiled off the AMP Building in Sydney’s Central Business District to raise money and aid in the awareness of the Sir David Martin Foundation, an organisation committed to helping young people in crisis.

A very worthwhile cause…

Baz on the AMP Building, Sydney
Baz on the AMP Building, Sydney

And yes, Janet beat me to the bottom, who said she wasn’t competitive!

Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney
Janet on the AMP Building, Sydney

Dope on a Rope (A boy with a dream)

A boy who dreamed of big mountains
A boy who dreamed of big mountains

New Zealand is often referred to as the land of the “long white cloud” and during my two weeks of climbing I saw many variations of that long white cloud.

 At times there was not a cloud in the sky, at other times there was white out conditions in the mountains due to violent storms. During my first week in the mountains we had a storm that raged for three days…

 Winds were howling and gusting at up to 180 kilometres per hour.

The aim of my visit to New Zealand was to learn more of the craft of alpine mountaineering, and to attempt an ascent on Mt Aspiring, the Matterhorn of the South. 

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

And whilst disappointed we had to turn back from the summit of Mt Aspiring due to deteriorating weather, the experience gained over the two weeks under the expert guidance of Richard Raynes and Steve Moffat from Adventure Consultants, was invaluable.

The focus now switches to my expedition to Nepal in November this year and whilst it is some months away there is little doubt that time will pass quickly…

So there’ll be plenty of long hikes with my backpack, something I relish, and of course climbing in my own back yard, the wonderful Blue Mountains.

Where's Baz?

I have just been looking at the climbing photos of the past of couple weeks over a cup of tea and here are some of my favourites…

Crampons, Ice Axes, and Mountains (Crikey – it gets the thumbs up)

 

Climbing the south face of Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Climbing the south face of Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Mountains have a way of drawing you in like a magnet, whether you want to view them, walk up them, or perhaps climb them.

 For me it has been about climbing them and the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island has provided me with a great place to do just that over the past two weeks.

Baz on Aurora - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz on Aurora – Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz on Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz on Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand

 And sure, there has been a day here or there that the weather was not suitable, but that is an opportunity to wrap yourself in a warm down sleeping bag way up high in an alpine hut with a good book…

Talking about Alpine Huts, I spent a week at Centennial Hut, situated on the West Coast, and from its position, perched high on an exposed ridge, you could see all the way down to the Tasman Sea…the sunsets were fantastic from our alpine hideaway!

Sunset over the Tasman Sea - Centennial Hut
Sunset over the Tasman Sea – Centennial Hut

I have learned much over the past two weeks under the supervision of the team from Adventure Consultants who are high altitude climbing specialists based at Wanaka and it has prepared me very well for an expedition to climb in Nepal later this year.

In fact, the climbing in Nepal will not be as technical as the climbing I have been doing these past two weeks, but the summits will be in excess of 6,000 metres!

Baz - traversing on Aurora Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – traversing on Aurora Southern Alps, New Zealand

And whilst I am still surrounded by the magnificent mountains of the Southern Alps I will be putting away the crampons and ice picks for the next few days as Janet, TomO, and I are going to spend some time just relaxing in this wonderful country they call New Zealand…

Tasman Glacier viewed from Graham Saddle, Souther Alps, New Zealand
Tasman Glacier viewed from Graham Saddle, Southern Alps, New Zealand

 Crikey…did I say relax – I mean relaxing, as we know how.

All three of us will be stepping off a platform high above a canyon near Queenstown, in what is billed as the world’s largest canyon swing. Once you depart the platform you free-fall 60 metres down into the canyon until the ropes smoothly swings you into a giant 200 metre swing. You then complete a couple of massive swings before you slowly come to rest approximately 100 metres below the departure platform.

Strewth, I’ll let you know how that goes!

And all I can say is – “thumbs up” to climbing in New Zealand…

New Zealand's Southern Alps - Gets the "Thumbs Up"
New Zealand’s Southern Alps – Gets the “Thumbs Up”

A Charmed Life (Climbing New Zealand’s South Island)

Baz - Bonar Glacier

I’m heading to the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island today for another week of climbing in the mountains.

 We will drive from Wanaka over the Haast Pass to Fox where we will helicopter into Centennial Hut on the Franz Joseph Glacier. Our alternative will be Pioneer Hut on the Fox Glacier

I spent a week last September climbing this region using Pioneer Hut as a base, and all I can say is the scenery is spectacular.

Sunset from Pioneer Hut
Sunset from Pioneer Hut

You can sit on the balcony of the hut at 2,000 metres and watch the sun slowly set over the Tasman Sea.

How good is that!

And the weather looks okay for the next few days at least!

Climbing Mt Bevan - Baz
Climbing Mt Bevan – Baz

Summiting is optional – getting down is mandatory (Mt Aspiring)

Mt Aspiring - viewed from Colin Todd Hut
Mt Aspiring – viewed from Colin Todd Hut

It is said that summiting a mountain is optional and getting back down is mandatory.

 And with this in my mind, with climbing partner, Richard Raynes, I headed off for my climb of Mt Aspiring in the pre-dawn hours of Monday 7 January.

Richard is an exceptionally experienced mountaineer and specializes in mountain rescues, so I was in extremely good hands. For me, this was a great opportunity to learn.

Richard - on Bevan Col
Richard – on Bevan Col

We had planned to climb on Thursday, however the weather was forecast to deteriorate over the week and our climbing window had narrowed significantly.

This was it…

I was feeling rather daunted as we headed off across the Bonar Glacier towards the “Matterhorn of the South” which was standing tall ahead of us.

Baz - Bonar Glacier
Baz – Bonar Glacier

The moon was rising over the mountain and as we climbed the steep snow and ice slope towards the rock buttress a thin golden line was appearing on the eastern horizon signalling the dawn of a new day.

I remember thinking this was the dawn of just more than the sun rising on a new day, but of a wonderful new world for me.

The Buttress - Mt Aspiring
The Buttress – Mt Aspiring

There were two other climbing parties of two ahead of us and we could see their headlamps bobbing up and down as they made their way.

The weather had been forecast to be better than we had earlier expected and according to the most up to date report we had received the previous evening. So far the report was proving accurate.

But as we climbed onto the exposed side of the mountain and climbed up through the rock formation, called The Buttress, the weather started to turn.  We had made it through the most technical section of the climb, and now had a long slog up the steep snow and ice towards the summit.

The peak shrouded in cloud and high winds
The peak shrouded in cloud and high winds

We could see the summit and the winds were roaring over it at least 100 kilometres an hour and the cloud was now starting to obscure the top.

The groups ahead had turned back by now and as we made our way back down through the rock buttress, abseiling our way back to the snow, we were being buffeted by sleet and strong winds.

Baz on the Buttress - Mt Aspiring
Baz on the Buttress – Mt Aspiring

It was not to be our day on the summit…

But that is not to say it wasn’t a great experience. Of course our goal was to make it to the top, but above all else, I was here to learn the craft and skills necessary to become a competent mountaineer.

 Perhaps the mountain understood this and she gave me an experience that provided a great learning opportunity, so it is hard to be disappointed…

Send a St Bernard to the rescue (If you haven’t heard from me in a week)

It seems like a long time has passed since I booked my trip to climb in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. 

But the time has arrived.

St Bernard Rescue DogI head off early Saturday morning, flying across “The Ditch” into Queenstown in the South Island, before making my way by bus to Wanaka, about an hour’s drive away.

On Sunday I will be flying into the mountains by either helicopter or ski-plane with Richard Raynes, from Adventure Consultants.

Richard has a first class climbing pedigree and has previously worked for the Mt Cook Search and Rescue team. We will spend a couple of hours walking across the Bonar Glacier to Colin Todd Hut, although we may elect to camp out on Bevan Col, depending on the Hut availability and weather conditions at the time.

Mt Aspiring

On or around day five, which should be Thursday 10 January, we will make our summit attempt on Mt Aspiring.  The day will be long, starting around 3am in the morning and finishing as late as 7pm.

And there are no guarantees on making it to the summit, but of course that is our goal and we will be giving it our best shot!

After a hike out from Mt Aspiring I will be returning to Wanaka to spend a few days resting with Janet and TomO, by the shores of Lake Wanaka, before heading back into the mountains for another week of climbing, this time with Steve Moffatt, Adventure Consultant’s program co-ordinator.

Steve has climbed all around the world, has summitted Mt Everest, and lead many mountaineering trips, including Lobuche East in Nepal. I will be travelling to Nepal in November this year to climb Lobuche East, Island Peak, and Pokalde. The first two are in excess of 6,000 metres, and Pokalde is just under 6,000 metres.

Baz - Fox Glacier, New Zealand

My second week will be less structured and we will look to climb a variety of peaks focussing on different aspects of mountaineering.

I am in good hands and I have a great opportunity to learn from these two very experienced climbers.

Grey's Peak, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Grey’s Peak, Fox Glacier, New Zealand

And although the peaks in the Southern Alps of New Zealand are only just over 3,000 metres in height, they are similar in ruggedness and valley to summit altitude gains to the higher peaks of the Himalaya’s, and for this reason it is a great training ground for my rather audacious plan to climb Mt Everest…

Mind you, it is also a wonderful place to visit and the people are friendly and welcoming.

And at the end of two weeks of climbing, Janet, TomO, and I will be spending a few days in Wanaka taking in the local sights and resting by the lake, before heading to Queenstown for a few days.

Janet and TomO

Janet and TomO won’t be sitting around whilst I’m climbing and their activities include a helicopter flight onto Fox Glacier, giving them a first hand view of where I was climbing last September, before heading down to Milford Sound for a couple of days.

They will also be retracing the Coast to Coast Adventure Race route. Janet and TomO assisted me in getting through this event across New Zealand last February…and will no doubt be there to support me in 2014’s race!

Anyway, there will be no communication access, other than satellite phone for emergencies, so I’ll let you know how it goes, along with some pictures, when I get back to Wanaka.

Hopefully I will be able to report a successful summit of Mt Aspiring, but even if I don’t there is little doubt in my mind that I will be reporting two weeks of fantastic climbing and fun…

Janet will be updating The Landy on Facebook and hopefully with news on Mt Aspiring so be sure to click on the link and follow our adventures!

And importantly, remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…

A couple of Kangaroos loose in the top paddock (Thankyou)

Baz - Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz – Terrigal Beach, Australia

I have been nominated for a couple of Blogger Awards, including 2012 Blogger of the Year.

 I know there is a protocol for responding to these nominations, and two more recently came from The Wish Factor, and Desert Rose.

Normally, I would take the time to respond in the appropriate way.

But as I am heading to New Zealand in a day or two for my next mountaineering adventure I fear that I would not do it the right justice by rushing a response, so please forgive me for not doing so…

Grey's Peak New Zealand
Baz on top of Grey’s Peak, New Zealand

But I would like to say to all my friends around the world, many whom I have come to know right here on WordPress – thank you!

I am humbled by the many comments I receive on a daily basis in response to what I have written, to my rantings…

Who, me, Baz – The Landy?

Damper and Golden Syrup

I’m just an ordinary Aussie bloke who tries not to take life too seriously, but to simply enjoy life for what it is, to take it on the chin when I need to, and to have a good laugh at myself all other times…

Strewth, who would ever have thought youse lot would be interested in the ramblings of someone with “a few ‘roos loose in the top paddock”?

But by crikey, I do love talking about this wonderful sunburnt country I live in…

Oh for crying out loud Baz, just say it, Australia’s the best flamin’ country in the world, mate…

And I can’t help but write about my very supportive family, the beautiful people in my life, Janet and TomO, and of the love they give me, unconditionally…

TomO
TomO
Janet - Cheeky as ever
Janet – Cheeky as ever

Writing of lazy afternoons down by the lake with friends, of rock-faces in the Blue Mountains, and of course, my rather audacious plan to climb high mountains, of the dream I have to go to the top of the world, to climb Mt Everest…

Every day on Wordspress, millions of words are written by ordinary people, stories about the challenges life has thrown at them, what they have done, and continue to do to overcome them.

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

About their very own Mt Everest…

People who want to improve their fitness, to lose weight, to cycle across a city,  or across the world.

Baz - Climb on
Baz – Climb on

Many have their sights set on a fun run, and others having completed one, setting their sights towards running a marathon.

For others, it is their challenge to become stronger, to be able to lift more, or about capturing that once in a life-time photograph, perhaps testing a new recipe to share with friends, or with people they have never met.

Weight lifting in "The Shed"

Others talk about health and lifestyle challenges they struggle with, that they have overcome.

I read as many of them as I can, for they motivate me and  provide me with much needed inspiration…

Seemingly, there is always someone in this cyberspace community ready to reach out, to congratulate, to console…

These people aren’t super-elite athletes, or neither five-star chefs, nor are they fitness gurus.

They have a much greater status than that, for they are simply ordinary people – they are you!

Each and every one of you is helping me to find the courage to overcome the challenges and barriers that sometimes stand in the way of my own dreams…

I take great inspiration from you all, and I won’t single any one person out, for you are all very special to me – and from the bottom of my heart thank you for enriching my life by rewarding me with a window into yours!

There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

Take care you ‘all…Baz

Baz and a Hero, Menari Village, Papua New Guinea
Baz and a Hero, Menari Village, Papua New Guinea

Climb Every Mountain…(Can’t wait!)

Baz - Chancellor Dome in the background
Baz – Chancellor Dome in the background

Can you believe that 2013 has rolled around already? And how good were those fireworks on Sydney Harbour to see in the New Year!

 Anyway, I know I’ve been shouting it very loudly at every opportunity of late, but just in case you’ve missed it, 2013 will be a big year for me in terms of mountaineering and climbing, and it starts at the end of this week as I head to New Zealand’s Southern Alps…

Southern Alps, New Zealand
Southern Alps, New Zealand

 Janet, TomO, and I were just looking at some of the climbing and mountaineering photos from 2012 so I thought I’d put up some favourites (again)…it motivates me to get out there…

 Crikey, almost forgot…Happy New Year to all from dowunder!

 And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…!

Dope on a Rope (Strewth – I’m getting very excited)

I feel like I’ve eaten far too much over the festive season, although I do need to have a little extra body fat as I head to climb Mt Aspiring in New Zealand’s Southern Alps for a couple of weeks.

Well, it is a great theory and the one I will be running in any case.

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

However, training is back on in earnest,  and I was lucky enough to get out for a couple of paddles on the lake over the past few days, despite the weather being less favourable.

Although, being out on the lake is more than just training or exercise, it is great for the soul watching the pelicans glide over the water, and other people out and about with family and friends, just having fun, the kite-surfers, the wind-surfers, and paddle-boarders…

Narrabeen Lake, Australia
Narrabeen Lake, Australia

But as time is ticking away I will be doing a full gear check over the next few days, and that will raise the excitement level in our household – it will be reaching fever pitch in another few days!

And of course, Janet and TomO are very excited, as they will be following me to New Zealand a few days after I depart.

Janet and TomO
Janet and TomO

You just wouldn’t want to be dead for quids…

And of course, if all else fails, remember, just remain out of control and see what develops!

Mountaineering Expeditions in 2013 (Climb-on)

Climbers nearing summit of Mt Everest

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.

Wanaka
Wanaka, New Zealand

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 View - From the Dunny
A typical New Zealand Alpine Hut

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.

Baz - Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Blue Mountains, Australia

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.

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

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.

Baz - Ice CLimbing, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Cramponing Skills and Crevasse Rescues

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.

Baz - Ice-climbing, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Baz – Ice-climbing, Fox Glacier, New Zealand

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.

Mountaineering
High Altitude Climbing

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.

Tomo's note

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…

 But crikey, there is plenty of time between now and then and the three of us will be using every minute of it to have fun, just being Out and About…

Together
TomO, Baz, and Janet

Talking about Adventure (Strewth – I want a para-glider)

I know that many of you have heard me sing the praises of the Blue Mountains, which is about an hours drive to the west of Sydney, many times before, but let me just say, I’m singing its praises once again.

 It is such a beautiful area where you can hike, climb mountains, or if you’re more inclined, just kickback in one of the many cafés and relax.

 And we did all of those things  this weekend!

We were fortunate that my parents, Brian and Fay, who are visiting for Christmas, were able to join us for a weekend of fun in the mountains…

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I did some abseiling and rock-climbing to keep my skills current ahead of my mountaineering trip in New Zealand this coming January.

And I had a great time doing that.

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We had intended to climb Tom Thumb, however a slightly later start than planed, and weather that looked questionable had us making other plans, so Gemma Woldendorp, from the Australian School of Mountaineering, and myself headed off to an old favourite, Boar’s Head.

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Boar’s Head is a multi-pitch abseil, and a very easy climb out in a very scenic part of the mountains, and only a stone’s throw from Katoomba.

And it was such a great day, for not only were we out and about in the mountains, but we talked extensively about Gemma’s trip to Greenland earlier this year, when she, and good friend Natasha Sebire climbed many peaks, and Para-glided off them in a very remote area of the country.

 Janet already wants to sign up for the next trip!

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And when the climbing was over for the day we headed to the Carrington Hotel, arriving, oddly enough, just on the cocktail hour…

Of course, it was a very lazy start to Sunday morning. But isn’t that what Sundays’ are all about?

What’s Baz up to now? (Climb on – Tom Thumb)

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It is hard to beat the Blue Mountains as a playground.

 I’m heading off tomorrow morning to climb Tom Thumb, and I will be joined later in the day by Janet, TomO, and my parents, who are visiting for Christmas,  for an evening in the mountains…

 Two of my greatest passions coming together in the mountains this weekend; family and climbing.

 Crikey, it doesn’t get much better than that, hey!

Enjoy your weekend whatever you choose to do, remembering, life is too short not to be enjoying yourself…

Just be yourself, and feel free to go nuts – that’s my plan anyway!

Climbing Tom Thumb (Back to the Blue Mountains)

Where's Baz?

I am preparing for another weekend of climbing after what seems to have been a long hiatus since my last foray into the mountains.

In reality, it has only been two weeks since I suffered an acute illness after climbing “Sweet Dreams” a couple of Sunday’s ago.

Baz - Climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

And with only three weeks to go before heading to climb in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, an attempt on Mt Aspiring and a number of other peaks, I can’t get enough training in…

This weekend we are going to climb Tom Thumb, a relatively easy grade 12 climb of around 180 metres, situated near the small and picturesque village of Leura in the Blue Mountains. We will abseil in, and climb out.

Tom Thumb Climb, Blue Mountains, Australia (photo credit climb.org.au)
Tom Thumb Climb, Blue Mountains, Australia (photo credit climb.org.au)

Palais Royale, Katoomba

We’ll be making it a weekend in the mountains staying at the Palais Royale, and we might even be able to sneak a couple of cocktails in at the old Carrington Hotel after the climbing is done.

Janet is looking forward to visiting some of the boutiques, and TomO will be heading for his favourite bookshop in Leura...

Crikey, this is the life, hey?

And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…

Ordinary People – Achieving Great Things

Climbers nearing summit of Mt Everest“But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts; their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have.

Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad…”

 These are words penned by the legendary mountaineer, Walt Unsworth, and they have had a profound effect on me since I read them a number of years ago.

At the time when he penned them he was making a broader comment on climbers heading to Mt Everest.

 These words summed me up perfectly, I thought.

I’m sure many will be able to relate to them equally, regardless of what your pursuits are…

Over the years I have pursued a whole range of activities, some adventurous, others less so – but I have always been driven by a desire to simply embrace life…

Sweet Dreams Climb, Blue Mountains, Australia

And I have never considered myself an expert in any of them, but it has always been a fierce determination that has seen me through; a strong faith in my ability to grasp the key things, to put them into practice.

I’ve never considered anything I’ve done as a failure, but I’ve had plenty of learning experiences, set-backs that have helped me to learn, to grow, and to develop. I’m thankful for those set-backs, as they have made me stronger.

 Eccentric; mad; yes, I’ve been referred in that way many times.

Baz over Picton, Australia

 Today, I wear those comments proudly, like a badge.

 Walt’s words have encouraged me to have the confidence to pursue my dream of climbing large mountains, to consider making an attempt on the summit of Mt Everest, in the least, to have the courage to admit that I want to climb it.

Summit of Grey's Peak

 Acknowledging your dreams is probably the greatest step you can make towards them becoming a reality…

The power of thought should never be under estimated, both positive, and negative.

Every day on Wordspress, millions of words are written by ordinary people, stories about the challenges life has thrown at them, what they have done, and continue to do to overcome them.

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

Ordinary people who want to improve their fitness, to lose weight, to cycle across a city,  or across the world.

Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

Many have their sights set on a fun run, and others having completed one, setting their sights towards running a marathon.

For others, it is their challenge to become stronger, to be able to lift more, or about capturing that once in a life-time photograph, perhaps testing a new recipe to share with friends, or with people they have never met.

Weight lifting in "The Shed"

Others talk about health and lifestyle challenges they struggle with, that they have overcome.

I read as many of them as I can, they motivate me, and they provide me with much needed inspiration…

Seemingly, there is always someone in this cyberspace community ready to reach out, to congratulate, to console…

These people aren’t super-elite athletes, or neither five-star chefs, nor are they fitness gurus.

They have a much greater status than that, for they are simply ordinary people, the same people that Walt Unsworth wrote about when he penned those words…

To those who aspire to do their best, to challenge themselves, I say never give in, you’re not alone out there, dream big, and pursue your dreams…

But on ordinary people, yes I’ve referred to people as ordinary, but in reality, there is no such thing as ordinary people, we are all unique, we all contribute to the mosaic that makes up the world we live in…

PNG Kokoda

It would be a boring place if we were all the same…

We’d never learn, grow, or develop as people.

Take the time to read over Walt’s musings a couple of times, because he was speaking about you…

Draw on the strength of his writing, it is powerful…

 Above all else remember – There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

Menari Village, Papua New Guinea

Vertigo Alert (Where’s Baz?)

Baz - Climbing Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia

Crikey Baz, what are you doing down there?

 Strewth, having fun, what else what I be doing down there…!

Geez, can’t wait to get back to the mountains for a climb.  The virus has kept me away for a couple of weeks, but another week to go and we are going to have a go at climbing “Tom Thumb”…

Hey, check out the countdown to New Zealand – 29 days to go. Hell, talk about getting excited!

And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…

Baz - Climbing Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing Sweet Dream, Blue Mountains, Australia

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DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

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Baz on final pitch - Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, AustraliaDCIM100GOPRO

Climbing Mt Aspiring – Crikey (I’m getting excited)

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

It is now one month from my next mountaineering experience in New Zealand, an ascent of Mt Aspiring in the Southern Alps and the excitement level in our household is reaching fever pitch.

 The trip is significant as it kicks-off a big year and hopefully some big steps towards that audaciously big goal I have to climb some of the world’s largest mountains, including Mt Everest.

 My last trip to New Zealand was in September this year when I spent time with the team from Adventure Consultants on Pioneer Glacier, in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

Pioneer Hut, Fox Glacier
Pioneer Hut, Fox Glacier, New Zealand