The Glasshouse Mountains…

Climbing to the top of Mt Ngungun on a crisp winter’s morning rewarded me with a magnificent view of Mt Tibrogargan and Mt Beerwah.

In the language of the Gubbi Gubbi people, Ngungun means “faces” and  is pronounced “Noo Noo”…
Photo: Baz – The Landy, Australia…

Adventure – On a retiree’s budget…

Walking

Hey, just a week or so ago I hung-up my business suit following a “graduation from work”.

And one of the reasons for doing so was that work was just getting in the way of having fun and adventure – something had to give, right?

Anyway, I caught up with a fellow adventurer at the weekend, as it happens, my brother-in-law the Kiwi, and after some kayaking around the beautiful Newcastle coastline and over a couple of beers he tossed out the line…

“So what are you doing now that you have retired graduated from work…?”

“Well, it’s only been less than a week, but I am working on some ideas”…I said, twisting the top off another brown bottle.

“I’ve got a great idea for an adventure just suited to you retired blokes on a shoestring budget…” he said, barely containing a wry smile..

It’s a familiar line I’ve heard many times before and usually pitched after the third beer. And like accepting the “King’s Shilling” taking the fourth beer signifies you’ve signed up for some kind of adventure.

“Okay, Baz I’ve got a bush hike in mind, the Great North Walk, we’ll start the walk early next week so get your pack ready”…

“Can’t I just think about it”  I suggested trying to conceal we were on our fourth beer.

It could have been worse, I guess.

Not that it is an ordeal, after all this is a walk that is quite familiar to me and I have walked it in the opposite direction, coincidently, with the Kiwi, and have spent a lot of time on sections of it over the years…

It is worth knowing, just in case you ever have an inclination to walk from Newcastle to Sydney, it is 240-kilometres in distance over rugged mountain terrain; the road trip is no more than 140-kilometres on the freeway; and the price of a one-way rail ticket is $18 for a journey that takes approximately two hours…

…Yes, I’m hearing you Janet-Planet, you’re right, that fourth beer is always forged in blood, sweat, and usually some tears – I should have heeded your advice and stopped at the third!

Mind you, The Great North Walk is a spectacular way to get between these two harbour cities and worth highlighting it was constructed as a celebration of Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988…

There’ll be no luxury, just a simple bivvy bag under a tarp as we progress south towards our destination, Sydney’s Circular Quay where there is an Obelisk that marks the finish.

Coincidently, the Obelisk is right next to a well known Sydney watering hole, the Customs House. We might even have a beer there in amongst “The Suits” to celebrate the end of this adventure…

Yes, Janet-Planet, I’ll limit myself to three beers, maybe…

 

Photos: Baz – The Landy

Selfishness – A simple word (With a complex meaning)

Selfishness is a word that we are likely to be confronted with every day…

But what does it really mean and how should it be applied to our daily lives, if at all?

Most dictionaries define selfishness as…

“Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.”

I pondered on this definition and eventually came to a conclusion that this is possibly one of the most misused words in the English vocabulary.

I asked myself the question..

Is it selfish to pursue our dreams, to live the life we desire, to see what we can achieve; to explore new horizons and to develop as individuals; to stand at the edge and look at the world through a different lens…?

 

As individuals our life and the way we lead it creates a mosaic of who we are.

The pieces of a jigsaw puzzle randomly sitting in a box are meaningless unless they are joined.

In much the same way the pieces of our lives, scattered, cannot portray or project anything about who we are or what we seek to be until pieced together.

Interlocked they provide a mosaic of whom we really are…

The picture unfolds…

Whom or what would we be if we were not able to join the random pieces together and pursue our dreams?

Would we ever achieve our real potential, or would a fear of selfishness limit us and how we develop as individuals?

Baz – The Landy

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (through youthful eyes)

Tanzania

With a spectacularly rugged coastline, an enormous diversity of wildlife and plants, and not to forget wonderful local produce, including some very nice boutique wineries, Kangaroo Island should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit…

And rest assured, Janet-Planet and myself have indulged every aspect of this adventure to KI, an island nestled just off the southern coast of Australia, with quite some vigour whilst TomO is in Africa!

TomO, the Crown Prince, along with a number of his fellow schoolmates, who are mostly aged 16 or 17 years old, have been helping to paint classrooms at the School of St Jude before attempting to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro.

The School of St Jude was established in Tanzania by an Australian, Gemma Sisia, in 2002 to educate the poorest of the poor.  Gemma’s belief remains that a free, high-quality education should be the right of all children in the world and that education is the strongest weapon in the fight against poverty.

Janet and I enjoy adventure and jump at any chance to XPLORE and as parents we have been blessed with a son who has embraced the opportunity; the challenges that exploring remote parts of Australia and the world brings.

We believe the experiences we have exposed TomO to through our pursuits has enabled him to develop skills of judgment and risk assessment well beyond what a lifetime in a classroom could ever teach.

Importantly, we have always taught him not to use the “F” word (failure, and yes, the other one as well!).

A little over 24-hours ago TomO and his mates began their final push to the summit of “Kili” from Kibo Hut after spending a few days of acclimitisation on the mountain.

Following is a message we received in the pre-dawn hours this morning.

Needless to say, we are extremely proud of TomO’s achievement, of all in his group, and despite the hardships endured, the fatigue created by this journey, he had the presence to be able to write to us in detail, via SMS, an account of his experience just after arriving back from the Rooftop of Africa…

And it’s alright if your eye moistens a little as you read, ours did.

Bravo TomO, you are an inspiration to all…!

Hey there, randomly got phone reception, but anyway just wanted to let you know that we just walked back from Kibo Hut about 3-hours ago. Yesterday we walked into Kibo around 3pm in the afternoon and slept through till dinner at 5. Had dinner packed then went to bed waiting for the 11pm wake up.

Got up then lined up outside in sub-zero temps and then began to walk up the mountain.

Was really cold which made it harder than it already was, slowly made our way up a gravel like track (hard to explain what it looked like) and the higher we got the more snow we began to see next to us. We then got higher and higher above the hut and people began to drop out, was really, really cold couldn’t feel my toes.

Thought about sitting down at some points but I kept going on because I knew I sat down I wouldn’t make it. Kept going and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done my feet were just so so heavy and I started swaying at one point but I kept going.

We were just before Gillmans Point when we began to see the sun on the horizon. Got there and was really excited, had a break there for like 5 and then kept on going to the full summit, was so so so hard like I was so exhausted and everything, but eventually I got there and was so happy. Didn’t get much video or pictures because it was too cold (so cold my phone died).

Others got a fair few shots, so yeah there will be a fair few photos going around.

I’ll call when I get to Springlands and tell you the rest, can’t be bothered to write anymore I’m really tired, missing you both though, talk later…

 

Baz – The Landy (On Kangaroo Island, but more on that later)

Ps: Tanzania works on Eastern African Time (EAT) which is 8 hours behind Sydney Australia. Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 19,340 feet above the African Plains. TomO and his mates will be resting up in a Safari Park before returning home on Christmas Eve…

 

Suitable only for Masochists and Israeli Paratroopers

Stretching between the villages of Salamaua and Wau in the island Nation of Papua New Guinea is a long-forgotten second world war track called “The Black Cat Track”.

It has it all…dangerous river crossings, swamps, cliffs, precarious rock-ledges, venomous snakes, and leeches that will suck the blood from your veins after the malaria carrying mosquito’s have finished with you…

The Lonely Planet guidebook describes the Black Cat Track as “suitable only for masochists and Israeli Paratroopers”.

This region of Papua New Guinea has some of the most spectacular jungle scenery on the planet and is the habitat of the country’s national emblem, the superbly beautiful Bird of Paradise.

I had to postpone a trek along the Black Cat Track a few years back due to civil unrest in the region, something it has been prone to from time-to-time, but I have been anxious to undertake this adventure and revisit a country Janet-Planet (Mrs Landy) and I lived in as newly weds many years ago…

Grey's Peak

And whilst I have not given up on my desire to climb amongst the world’s highest peaks in the Himalayas, the earthquake and tragic devastation it caused to Nepal and its people earlier this year has added a layer of complexity to that ambition!

But crikey, I need to “feed the rat” with adventure and an opportunity has arisen to join a trek along the Black Cat Track in May 2016 with a group of  Papua New Guinean Nationals – “Legends” as they are rightly referred to and ably led by Aidan Grimes.

Co-incidentally, it will be almost 10-years to the day that I walked the Kokoda Track with Aidan, a veteran of 100 traverses of the Kokoda Track; a track that is synonymous with Papua New Guinea and the battles fought by our brave and courageous “diggers” during World War Two.

It will make a change to the Australian Outback and snow covered mountain peaks…

What an adventure, hey!

So strap on your backpack and get your hiking boots out…there is plenty of training to be done…

Baz – The Landy

Working with Indigenous Australians…

Anne Beadell Highway

The opportunity to visit an extremely remote and arid part of Australia came my way the other day, an opportunity to spend time in country with a group of traditional landowners and aboriginal elders deep in the desert region of Western Australia.

“The Landy” will be pointed westward travelling deep into the desert region, crossing sand dunes and making tracks as our small convoy travels deep into the desert.

We will make tracks where no other European Australian’s have previously been as much of this trip will be completely across country, no roads or tracks to follow.

They say one door closes and another opens and crikey, isn’t that the truth!

Recently I wrote a piece on “Fate, are you a Believer” after forgoing a trip to climb a 6,500-metre peak in Nepal, but missing the terrible natural disaster that devastated the country following last week’s earthquake; a tumultuous event that has sadly taken the life of many Nepalese people.

I was due to arrive in Nepal last Wednesday, as it turns out the day our son, TomO, broke his kneecap in the school gym.

And yes, he is making a great recovery…thanks!

Mind you when I’m not climbing I am travelling the great Australian Outback, photographing a parched red earth that stretches from horizon to horizon, kissed by a deep blue sky that provides a canopy over our sunburnt country.

Outback Australia

As fate would have it, I received a telephone call from an acquaintance this week, a fellow kindred spirit and outback traveller who is assembling a team of people to assist a group of traditional owners, indigenous Australians, build a structure to house a pump in an extremely remote part of Australia; an area rich in aboriginal history and culture, but rarely seen by European Australians.

It was less than 40 years ago that an elderly couple came in from this desert region after living a nomadic life with no European contact at all. Their’s is a remarkable story and  told in a book The Last of the Nomads” by WJ Peasley.

I vowed to visit this area one day…

Strewth, I’m more excited than a rooster in a hen house and there isn’t a lot of time to prepare so I’d better get cracking – I look forward to sharing the stories and photographs I capture in between wielding a shovel, pick, and hammer!

Photos: Baz – The Landy…

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

Red dust in your pants…

Welford Sand Dune

Mountaineering is all about going up, and down mountains, and isn’t that a reflection of life in general!

There are the highs, and the lows…

As many of you will know I have been on a mission to climb amongst the world’s highest mountain peaks and this year I had two trips planned in Nepal.  But isn’t it funny how priorities in your life can change!

Recently I wrote about my sister, Deb (Merle) and the illness she is courageously facing.

Well, I’m pleased to say that her treatment is progressing in line with expectations, but there are good days and not so good days.

But her spirit is amazing!

A couple of weeks back I was sitting on the couch, pondering life in general, as I am inclined to do, and realised that I no longer felt the compelling urge or need to head to Nepal this year, but I wanted to go touring the great Australian Outback with my family…

And yes, I’ve never needed any encouragement to get Out and About – my love of Australia and the Outback is almost as great as the love I share for my family, for Merle…

I know many of you have been “rooting” (that is the US expression isn’t it – makes me chuckle though! ) for me to get up the mountain and I appreciate the support, and who knows, the desire may return, but I have things that have far important to me as a person right now…

I know you will understand.

Hey, that doesn’t mean I can’t go climbing in the Blue Mountains, so there is still some scope for “More Dope on a Rope”.

But strewth, I love the Outback, so I have reset my website back to my other passion!

Photo: 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

Cancer and Courage, our Mount Everest

Mt Aspiring

Courage is a very powerful word when you look behind its meaning…

“…to have courage is to have the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation”.

The word courage has been casually discussed around our dinner table amongst family and close friends in the context of my journey to the mountains, a journey that one day will lead me towards the summit of Mount Everest, fulfilling the dream of a young boy who has always believed that anything is possible –  just believe in that dream!

This week my sister Debbie, who is affectionately known to us as Merle, and I spoke about my journey and what it meant for her. Whilst she is an exceptionally talented musician and accomplished athlete it seems she never got that climbing and mountaineering gene.

And rest assured, I never got that musical gene. If they handed out awards for singing in the shower I’d still go home empty handed.

But as we spoke on the telephone tears rolled silently down my face…

Recently, Deb was diagnosed with cancer, a cancer that has taken a significant hold on her body in a relatively short period of time.

And here she was encouraging me to chase my dream, assuring me that she took great strength from my dream and my journey – and making me promise that no matter what happens to her that I must continue on my journey.

As we spoke she explained that the cancer that has infected her precious body is her own Mount Everest.

She reached out and said…

“Baz, take my hand and we will climb our own Mount Everest together, one step at a time, for that is the only way”.

Deb, Merle sent the following note to her many friends recently and I want to share it with you. I’m hopeful that it will inspire, inspire those who perhaps face their own Mount Everest…

Yes, courage is a very powerful word and I learnt its true meaning this week…

 The Beginning of a New Chapter

By “Merle”

A wonderful sister...
Merle, A  beautiful sister…

I am beginning a very important journey. So much to achieve, new directions to take, challenges to overcome, happiness to be found….endless opportunities to grab hold of. A time to redefine, evolve and embrace life to the fullest.

With the love and support of my family and dear friends, long standing and new, it will hopefully be a celebration of the human spirit that lives within us all. I am blessed that I have today and the time to make each moment count… moments that we can reflect and smile upon. Moments of “BEING” whatever that may be and wherever it may takes us.

I will be taking each precious day at a time and endeavouring to seek all the happiness and joy each of them bring. I will be promoting and encouraging all who know me to do the same. My one wish and only wish is for everyone to not focus on the disease (that is the doctor’s job) it is what it is. Find the love, joy, precious “ididocic” (idiotic) moments filled with laughter and all the happiness in the world during this time. NOT EASY…CHALLENGES NEVER ARE…DEFINITELY DOABLE!!!!

I understand this is a big ask for all who stand on the perimeter of watching someone they love go through this. To me, it is counter-productive to dissect and try to analyse and make sense of this disease consuming my body. It would obscure the human spirit that defines ME as a person…I am most afraid of losing sight of who I am in all this. If you can help, it would be beneficial not only for me, but ALL of us, please participate however and in whatever way you can to… HELP ME…REMIND ME…REMEMBER AND ENHANCE THE MEMORIES!!! For after all, this chapter is NOT ALL ABOUT ME. It is about ALL of us and what we gain from this experience.

CONFRONTING…yes, very much so. If not confronted we have not the opportunity to overcome this.

SCARY…mmmm!!! I imagine it could be at times. I do believe, always have, that knowledge and sharing is powerful. The understanding gained and shared puts things in perspective and allows you to take away or minimise the “scariness” to some degree.

SAD….definitely, we will all feel it. Sadness is a positive emotion, I believe it shows how much we truly treasure, connect and love each other. It is an emotion to not hide…we cannot be BRAVE all the time, that would be counter-productive, and we would go insane. Release the tears, smile and begin again.

“IDIDOCIC” MOMENTS…Yes please, lots and lots of them!!!   Also remember past “ididocic” experiences and share with everyone who will listen. Laugh, BIG belly laughs and rejoice!!!!

I am looking forward to the moments we will all share and I am truly blessed, humbled and consider myself the most fortunate person on this earth to have such beautiful people in my life. Thank you for being you and hold on…this journey is going to be a big one with lots of opportunities.

Love Merle x x x

Wouldn’t be dead for quids…

The Bread-Knife, Warrumbungles, Australia

The Bread-Knife, it would be a great climb, but I understand it is not allowed these days…

Photo: Janet-Planet

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

Angels, Friends and Lovers

Recently someone asked who is the “Janet” that regularly features in my stories, and suggesting she must be an Angel from above to put up with me.

Um, no it wasn’t Clare, Janet’s mother, but crikey, wouldn’t we be rich if a had a dollar for every time she has, bless her soul…

But just like Tinkerbell, Janet is sweet and sassy, a friend to all…

Literally, the girl next door, yep over the back fence next door, Janet (Planet) and I have been friends for a lifetime…

…Having fun, flying and jumping out of planes together, abseiling off tall buildings, and trekking through some of the wildest jungles on the planet in Papua New Guinea, where we lived for a number of years…

Other times you’ll see us sitting quietly around a camp fire, soaking up the Australian Outback as the sun slips below the western horizon with not another soul in sight for hundred’s of kilometres…

And in those tender moments, spending the night in a lover’s embrace on a remote South Pacific Island.

Strewth, we would not have it any other way.

And TomO, well he’s the jewel in our lives, the creation of the heady mix of two young lovers and remote South Pacific Island’s…

And rest assured, he seems to have our sense of adventure and has already suggested he will stand on top of Mount Everest with me…

Dream big and it will happen I say, so don’t rule it out…that journey is well under way!

Of course, we can’t leave out our best friend, Milo, the wonder dog! The world’s most lovable Border Collie…

In Janet’s words – You boys don’t know how lucky you are…

And ain’t that the truth!

Ps: We’re off to a remote exotic island in the South Pacific in a couple of weeks time 😉

Baz, The Landy

Beer – Magical and Medicinal

Outback AustraliaLike a couple of old Holden cars in the Australian Outback, I was feeling just a little rusty and worse-for-wear this morning as I headed out on a 10-kilometre pack walk with the mandatory 20-kilograms strapped to my back.

In the pre-dawn darkness the kookaburra’s were just stirring in the Harbour City, laughing as I trudged on up the hill…

As part of my training to prepare for two climbing expeditions to Nepal in both the pre and post monsoon periods in 2015 I pack-walk between 10-20 kilometres with a 20-kilogram backpack every other day, and do sprint running on the other days.

Unfortunately, a recurring injury I have suffered over the past 12 months or so has been a tight calf-muscle in my left leg. Well to be more specific, and for the medically inclined, it is the peroneus muscle group.

Over the weekend “The Kiwi” was in town so there was plenty of training on Saturday in the mountains and given the extreme heat a few beers were consumed at the day’s end!

Water would have been better wouldn’t have cut it…

Of course, many will know “The Kiwi” as my partner in endurance events both in Australia and his homeland of New Zealand, and he is the bloke who has dreamed up a 250-kilometre run, come walk, from Newcastle to Sydney in March next year – apparently in 60-hours!

Oddly, 250-kilometres seems to figure often in the things he dreams up, last time that number came up it was a 250-kilometre cycle, run, and kayak from the west to the east coast of New Zealand’s south island.

Yes, these plans have usually been hatched over a few beers, and you’d think I would have learnt by now that one always needs to be cautious of Kiwis’ bearing gifts of free beers…

Crikey, I wouldn’t have it any other way though!

But on beers, the pain in my left calf muscle was absent on my pack walk at silly o’clock this morning, confirming, I’m sure, that beer is full of magical medicinal properties – truly, nectar of the Gods’.

Well that is the story I’m sticking with anyway, let’s face it – when you’re on a good thing!

 Photo:  Baz – The Landy (on Trilby Station in Outback Australia)

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”…

Feed the Rat (It’s gnawing away)

 

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

Since a young  age I have been fascinated by the majestic beauty of mountains, of the peaks that poke through the clouds reaching ever higher into a deep blue sky.

Growing up in Australia has had mountaineering limitations given our highest is Mt Kosciuszko, a mere 2,228 metres high.

So I contented myself with walking through and over the hills and mountains, developing a love of the Australian Bush, the magnificent Australian Bush…

Like an unsatisfied lover, in recent years I started to look further afield with a desire to experience more from my affair with the mountains…

Three years ago I commenced training designed to assist and enable me to contemplate  climbing an 8,000 metre peak in the Himalayan Mountain Range.  The mountain of choice Cho Oyu borders Tibet and Nepal and is the world’s sixth highest mountain peak and possibly the most accessible of the world’s fourteen 8,000 metre peaks.

The fun is in the journey, right?

I have had some great times developing my rope skills climbing in the Blue Mountains not far from Sydney as well as undertaking an extreme fitness regime.

And talk about a good laugh here and there, strewth, I can’t even tie my shoelaces properly (it’s a long story) but here I am tying myself off on vertical rock-faces!

 

Unfortunately injuries over the past year or more proved to be a significant setback and at times had me questioning whether I should continue!  But the injuries are now behind me and a solid fitness regime is under way to get me on track!

My head is back in the right place, the switch has been flicked once again…

And crikey, the “rat” is gnawing away and it needs to be fed – that’s a good sign, for me anyway, as Janet rolls her eyes with a wry smile breaking through ever so slyly.

Janet knows the rat well, it has led us on many wonderful adventures…

And how good is New Zealand’s Southern Alps playground – truly a mountaineer’s playground.

After a reasonably steep multi-pitch climb I crossed this snow covered Arête in the cover photo on the way to the summit of Auroa.

Whenever I view this photograph it reminds me that “standing back from the edge is safe, but the view is never as good” – it reminds me what I love so much about the mountains, it inspires me to pursue my goal…

So, one step at a time, let’s do this together!

Baz – The Landy

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

Standing back from the edge is safe (But the view is never as good)

 

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

After a reasonably steep multi-pitch climb I crossed this snow covered Arête on the way to the summit of Auroa Peak in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

What a great playground, hey?

Baz – The Landy

Beware of Trojan Horses (“The Kiwi” strikes again)

Heatons Gap, AustraliaI have a couple of things to say about this photo.

Firstly, it is Heatons Gap in the Watagan Mountains to the north of Sydney. It starts off steep and then it really gets steep. This photograph of me was taken on a training run with a backpack loaded with a 20-kilo sand bag.

Yeah I know it seemed like a good idea down in the car park, hindsight is a marvellous thing…

Secondly, if you are wondering what I’m saying, I’ll give you the sanitized version – if I ever catch up to “The Kiwi” he’ll be plucked…

“The Kiwi” is my brother-in-law.

The Kiwi - I often wondered how he arrived "Across the Ditch"
The Kiwi – I’ve often wondered how he arrived “Across the Ditch”
Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand
Baz – Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

Yeah that’s right, the bloke that had me signed up for a run, cycle, and kayak, from the West Coast of New Zealand to the East Coast in less than 24 hours, a couple of years back…

Now I will admit there was beer involved in the lead-up to being “pressed ganged” by “The Kiwi” to the start line on that occasion. Come to think about it my skydiving career had its genesis in the bottom of a beer glass in the early 1980s during a session with Bluey and the boys at the Breakfast Creek hotel in Brisbane.

Skydiving at Picton, Australia
Skydiving at Picton, Australia

Yes, I heard you saying there’s a bit of a pattern developing here…

But hey, in my defence, I was young and stupid back then.

At least I can say that I have moved forward over the years, now I’m only stupid!

I didn’t know “The Kiwi” back then, he was too busy jumping off cliffs with a parachute on his back, paragliding around New Zealand’s north island.

Anyway, “The Kiwi” calls me up a little while back…

“Baz, I’m turning 50-years young on 13 September and I thought we could have a few beers”.

Now you’ve got to be very cautious of Kiwi’s offering to buy you a beer, especially if you’re an Aussie. It’s a long story, but there was an under-arm bowling incident in a cricket game way back in 1981 from which they cannot move on. So if they are being nice, there is bound to be a catch, if you’ll pardon the pun…

“What is the catch”, I asked…

“None”, he said, “but I thought we might walk to the pub”.

“That’s sounds sensible”

Alarm bells were ringing inside my head, after all this is months away, but his shout, so why not?

“Walk” I said,

“We’ll, walk and run, after all the quicker we get there the more time we get before the girls come looking for us”.

Um, that would be Leah and Janet.

Leah and Janet (You boy's don't know how lucky you are!)
Leah and Janet (You boy’s don’t know how lucky you are!)

Strewth, I’m thinking “The Kiwi” is actually talking sense for a change!

“Yep, sign me up” I said without further delay…

Well sign me up he did…

Today our entries for the Great North Walk 100, a 100-kilometre run through the Australian bush on September 13, up and down a mountain range that will take us around 18-20 hours to complete, was accepted.

Fortunately we are no strangers to the area and we’ll be doing a training run up Heatons Gap this weekend, the first of many…

Strewth, I’m starting to feel thirsty just thinking about it…

Wish us luck; we’ll need it that’s for sure!

Anyway, the moral of the story (if there needs to be one) is if you are going to drink beer with a Kiwi, The Kiwi, then accept all may not be what it seems – so just gulp it down and enjoy the experience!

 Footnote (for the uninitiated):

“Kiwi” is the name given to a small flightless bird that is native to New Zealand, and New Zealander’s are usually referred to as Kiwi’s…

And where is New Zealand I hear you ask?

Well, it is not too far across “The Ditch” – The Tasman Sea; just think of it as an outpost of Sydney’s Bondi Beach! 😉

Those who don’t think it can be done (shouldn’t bother the person doing it)

 DSCN0576“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.” Walt Unsworth.

Walt must have had me in mind when he penned that!

I’m gearing back up, slowly but surely and aiming for a Himalayan trip to climb three 6,000 metre peaks in the not too distant future

And of course, Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest and one of fourteen 8,000 metre peaks, still beckons…

DSCN0282

This has been my goal for sometime and you might be left wondering when is Baz going to get around to doing it…and I must say I’m a bit behind schedule after the injuries and personal setbacks of the past twelve months – but I’m getting it back on track, slowly, but surely!

In the meantime I’ll be travelling in Australia’s wonderful outback in June and July, including a crossing of Australia’s Great Victoria Desert and a visit to the site of the Atomic Bomb testing from the 1950s– so be sure to stay in touch!

Welford NP Sand Dune 1

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

Photos: Baz, The Landy, and Janet Planet

Living the Dream (You have imagined)

Southern Alps, New Zealand

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined…”

Henry David Thoreau

Sound advice Henry!

Photo: Baz, Climbing on Fox Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand

No ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives (A note from a wonderful son)

How lucky am I
No ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives

“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.

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…

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.

 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.

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 their lows…

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

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.

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…

Usually 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…

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…

Baz – The Landy

The Jungles of Papua New Guinea (The Kokoda Track)

Isurava Village, situated along the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

I am making plans to head back into the Papuan New Guinean jungle in April next year to walk the Black Cat Track.

I tried to get there a couple of years ago, but civil unrest in the area prevented it. So plans have been made once again, and will provide a great lead in for some climbing in Nepal later in the year!

 This area has some of the most pristine jungle in the world…

 Photo: Baz, The Landy

Success Isn’t Permanent (And Failure Isn’t fatal)

Not a bad thought to keep in mind, and it is one of the things I like to remind myself of each day as I chase my dreams…

 

Those who don’t think it can be done (shouldn’t bother the person doing it)

Grey's Peak New Zealand

 “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…” Walt Unsworth.

 I’m gearing back up, slowly but surely…

Initially into the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, for some rock climbing to hone the skills and aiming for a Nepal trip to climb three 6,000 metre peaks in November.

Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest and one of fourteen 8,000 metre peaks, beckons in 2015…

Sweet Dreams, Blue Montains

This has been my goal for sometime I’m just one-year behind after the injuries and some personal setbacks over the past twelve months.

But I’ll be doing plenty of travel in Australia’s wonderful outback over the coming months also – so be sure to stay in touch!

Welford NP Sand Dune 1

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

Photos: Baz, The Landy, and Janet Planet

The Shed (The Sweat Room)

The Shed - The font of all worldy knowledge
The Shed – The Sweat Room

The training shed up in the backyard was in full action this morning with a 10,000-metre row to the sounds of Deep Purple at silly o’clock…

 As much as I enjoy strength and weight training, I can’t expect to be a 100-kilogram gorilla and climb mountains, but the weight training has kept me going over these past few months…

Baz - A daily dose of weight bearing exercise
Baz – A daily dose of weight bearing exercise

 Hey, keep your fingers crossed that my Achilles tendon that I had surgically repaired earlier this year holds up!

And it seems to be as I start ramping up the cardio exercise and I must say it makes a pleasant change to the weight training.

As part of training for the mountains I am working towards a 100 kilometre-running race (I use the term running sparingly) through the mountains that I regularly hike and that takes place in September 2014.

Baz - heading up "The Hill"
Baz – heading up “The Hill”

And I’ll need every bit of that time to prepare, and the last mountain running I did was in one of the world’s toughest endurance races, the Speight’s Coast to Coast Adventure Race in New Zealand in 2012.

And yes, that Kiwi brother-in-law of mine is hot on my heels pushing me, again!

Tongio "the Kiwi" and baz
Tongio “the Kiwi” and Baz

I’m also planning to cycle the iconic Birdsville Track in outback Australia in April 2014.  It is roughly 500 kilometres in length and the aim is to ride as much as I can on my Canondale 29-er Mountain Bike.

Dream big I say, and of course, live to the motto that  “those that don’t think it can be done shouldn’t bother the person doing it.”

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

 Cheers, 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…

Living Works Of Art (In the Australian Bush)

Wildflowers
A Fringed Lily – Minute and as Delicate as life itself…

Perhaps this will come as little surprise, but today we were Out and About in the Australian Bush…

TomO was having a sleep over at a friends place, although the term sleepover is used merely to highlight that he wasn’t at home with us, because if I know those boys there would have been little sleep happening.

Hell, come to think of it, the poor bloke was probably cleaning up the aftermath of the dinner party we enjoyed with the parents of TomO’s mate last night…

Now nothing ever seems to happen in our house before a cup of tea has been taken, which shouldn’t be that surprising as Janet’s father, Archie, was a tea importer, so after our mandatory cup of tea this morning we boarded The Landy, camera gear at the ready, and headed about 50-kilometres to the north of Sydney into Yengo National Park.

This park is a favourite of ours and we have spent many hours atop Devil’s Mountain watching the sun set on the the park’s western horizon, or Burragurra as it is known by Australia’s first inhabitants.

The mountain has many aboriginal rock engravings etched into its surface, including the spirit footprints of Wa-boo-ee, the creator of heaven and earth.  In aboriginal legend he stepped from here to Mount Yengo in one stride and then ascended back into the sky.

Yengo National Park
Mt Yengo, Australia

All this, just to the north of Australia’s most populous city, strewth, how did we Aussies’s get so lucky?

And you know how I tend to rave on about the Australian Bush and Outback, well just take another look at the beautiful example of a Fringed Lily.  They are so minute and in flower presently.

And as harsh as the Australian Bush can be it is such a fragile environment producing what can only be described as Living Works of Art…just like the Fringed Lily!

Crikey, all together now, say it!

(Big Bad) Baz, we wouldn’t wouldn’t be dead for quid’s!

Photos: (Big Bad) Baz, The Landy

Just Dreaming (In the Australian Outback)

Outback Australia

A few weeks back I was wandering around in the Outback enjoying the big sky country when I snapped this shot along the old Cobb & Co Coach Route between Broken Hill and White Cliffs.

Taken nearby to the old Rockholes Hotel, a refreshment point for travellers along the dusty route in days long gone but little more than rubble these days, I just laid back in the red dust and closed my eyes.

In an instant I was transported to another time, lost forever!

Strewth, you just wouldn’t be caught dead for quids, hey!

 Photo: Baz ,The Landy

White Cliffs – Outback Australia (Where’s Baz)

Underground Motel
White Cliffs, Outback Australia

I’ve had a little bit of hiatus from the keyboard over the past couple of weeks and perhaps you’ve may have been thinking where’s Baz, has he gone underground or something…

Well talking about going underground, I took this photo late in the afternoon at White Cliffs, Outback Australia on one of our recent trips…

And just below the surface is the Underground Motel where we stayed in rooms fashioned out of an old mine.  White Cliffs is an opal mining town, whose day time temperatures in summer can be above a ‘hundred on the old Fahrenheit scale for weeks on end and below zero at night in the depths of winter.

White Cliffs, Underground Motel
White Cliffs, Underground Motel

Seemingly, there is little happening on the climbing front just at the moment, even though I have recovered sufficiently from the operations earlier in the year, I’ve just lost a bit of zest for it.

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

Isn’t life funny sometimes, hey!

I wanted to be on those high mountains so badly earlier this year, in fact I was scheduled to be in Nepal climbing this month, and now I’m struggling to get motivated enough to get back out there – so fingers crossed for me!

And crikey, in the meantime, it is Janet’s scones cooked in a camp oven in the Outback and TomO’s antics whilst on tour– and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Photos: Baz, The Landy

The Australian Outback (Big Sky Country)

The Australian Outback - Big Sky Country

This is big sky country…and how good is it!

Janet, TomO and I will be heading out in “The Landy” in about a week’s time to visit Mutawinji National Park, which has a lot of aboriginal history, rock engravings and paintings.

And I look forward to sharing some more of the Australian Outback with you…

In fact, this will be the last trip “The Landy” will make for a while as the new vehicle, “The Landy – Mark 2” arrives later this week and will be customised for Outback Travel over the next couple of months.

Photo: Baz – The Landy

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

Strewth – Where’s Baz (The Landy)

By the Billabong - Trilby Station (Outback Australia)
By the Billabong – Trilby Station (Outback Australia)

It has been quite an intense period in our “down-under” household over these past couple of months. 

Surgery on my leg, the passing of Janet’s father, Archie, after a long innings stretching almost to his 100th year, and presently the terminal illness my father, Brian, is suffering and that will take him from us in the not too distant future.

Archie and a favourite motor-cycle
Archie and a favourite motor-cycle

Mind you, Brian is comfortable and at peace, and even quipped to me the other day that we’re all dying from the day we’re born, it isn’t how long you live, but how you live it that counts. Of course, his only real concern has been for the love of his life, his partner for over 50 years, Fay.

Courageous words indeed I thought and his faith has kept him, both of them strong…

Brian and Fay - 50th Wedding Anniversary
Brian and Fay – 50th Wedding Anniversary

But I wanted to drop a note to thank you for your kind words of support over these past couple of months, and to be honest, I haven’t caught up on all the news and stories that many of you write on a daily basis, but rest assured, I’m looking forward to getting back into the routine soon.

The Shed - Font of all knowledge (and my daily training ground)
The Shed – Font of all knowledge (and my daily training ground)

And speaking of routine, I have stepped back from my usual training regime to avoid  “running myself down” during this difficult time, but I’m looking forward to a return shortly, and of course, back into the mountains, back on the journey to the summit of some of the world’s highest mountains.

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

Oh, sorry, what of the jet-setters. I hear you ask?

TomO swanning around in the south of England
TomO swanning around in the south of England

Strewth, TomO and Janet are having a “whale of a time” over in the south of England, but I must confess, I’m missing them and look forward to their return in about a week’s time.

By crikey, I’m sure they’ll have some news and tales of adventure that will be sure to cheer us all up!

Good luck out there, and remember, those that don’t think it can be done shouldn’t bother the person doing it!

Cheers, Baz and the crew

Always together - Always smiling (Well mostly!)
Team O’Malley – Janet, TomO, and Baz

Strewth, talk about Jet-setters (They’re diddling off)

Scarborough - Redcliffe Penninsular
Scarborough – Redcliffe Penninsular

 

Today marks the first day of TomO’s mid year break from school, and let me say it seems like only yesterday the school term had begun.

Crikey, why wasn’t school like that when I was a young whipper snipper?

Hell, hang-on I’m still a young whipper snipper, at heart…

Janet and TomO aren’t ones to waste a moment of living, so today they will jet-set out of Sydney, accompanying Janet’s mother, Clare, on a visit to her sister who lives in the wonderful Devon area in the south of England.

For those who visit regularly you may recall that Janet’s father, Archie, passed away about a month ago after a long and wonderful life and not too far short of his 100th year.

Archie - Have Pith Helmet, will travel
Archie – Have Pith Helmet, will travel

Archie always had a passion for travel and seemingly with all the travel TomO has done over the past twelve months it is becoming quite obvious there is only a “sheet of tissue paper” between Poppa Archie and grandson TomO!

It’ll only be a matter of time before TomO will turn up in a Pith Helmet, for sure!

Of course, as many will recall we had all planned to be in Nepal later this year for my climbing expedition, but as I am still recovering from my recent Achilles tendon operation we’ve put those plans aside for the moment.

After all the mountains aren’t going anywhere!

Usually, we travel as a family to experience this wonderful world together…

Always together - Always smiling (Well mostly!)
Always together – Always smiling (Well mostly!)

But now is the time for both of us to spend time with our families.  Janet in support of her mother Clare, and me with my family.

It would almost seem a cruel twist of fate, but having just lost a great mate in Janet’s father, Archie, my father, Brian, has been admitted to palliative care in his hometown on the Redcliffe Peninsular, suffering from an illness that will take him from us shortly.

Brian and Fay - 50th Wedding Anniversary
Brian and Fay – 50th Wedding Anniversary

Mind you, he is a man of great faith and he is showing tremendous courage at this time. I said at the time of Archie’s passing that it was hard to be sad when we have so much to be happy about, to have shared our lives with them.

Life, you never know what it is going to dish out to you, but one thing for sure is all you can ever do is live the best way you can…and only one moment at a time.

Reacquainted with an old mate (The shed!)

Baz - What a view
Baz – What a view

After seven weeks of rest, recuperation, rehabilitation, and a bit of hibernation I found it very liberating to be back up in the shed this week doing what I love, something that is part of my everyday existence, my every day ritual – exercise.

 A little over a week ago I gave the rehabilitation boot, the boot, literally, after getting the all okay from the doctor, and strewth, how good was that!

Recovery

 Geez, you never want to take mobility for granted, it’s a bugger when you lose it!

For those that are new, having a seniors moment, or maybe just missed it, I had an Achilles operation on my left foot, and a spur clearance on my right ankle about seven weeks ago…

Yes, to legs out of action at the same time, lucky for me though I had Janet and TomO taking good care of me!

After climbing in New Zealand during January it became very obvious to me that if I am to continue pursuing my dream of scaling some of the world’s highest mountains, heaven forbid, maybe even Mount Everest, than something had to be done to fix these problems that had been progressively getting worse.

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

The rehabilitation phase is well under way I am being extremely well cared for by my wonderful physiotherapist, Paula, from the Joint Health Clinic in downtown Sydney.

 And can I just say this, crikey, how good is it to be back up in the shed.

The Shed
The Shed

A bit of The Angels, one of my favourite Aussie rock bands, belting out of those little Bose speakers to get me motivated, the sound of free weights moving and some time on my new spin bike.

Even the neighbours are happy to hear that music signifying that I am slowly, but surely, returning to normal.  Yeah, okay, maybe they could do with a little less of The Angels.

 And on climbing?

Well it is far too early to return to the mountains, in fact I wouldn’t be able to squeeze on my rock climbing shoes, that is a hard task even under normal circumstances, but the swelling would make it an impossible task presently.

Baz - just stretch yourself
Baz – just stretch yourself

 And what about those big mountains?

Well, if I were to be brutally honest with myself, I would most likely come to the conclusion that my trip to Nepal this year is slowly slipping away from me.  Whilst the recovery is right on track, it was always going to be a very marginal thing as to whether I recover in time or not.

 But in the true style of an eternal and ever optimistic Sagittarian I’m not discounting it yet.

But here is the deal, climbing mountains isn’t a bucket list thing for me that I can just tick off, but something I want to live, enjoy, relish in, and return from.  So being in peak condition is key to my safety and that of those around me.

 The mountains will always be there.

But there is plenty of adventure in my sights regardless, including this year’s Hawkesbury Classic Kayak Race, 111-gruelling kilometres down the Hawkesbury River, and if I don’t get to Nepal, I’m confident of lining up in next year’s Coast-to-Coast Race, a cycle, run, and kayak race that takes you 243-kilometres across New Zealand’s South Island…

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

Strewth, far too much fun ahead, you just wouldn’t want to be dead for quid’s…

 And hey, good to see you again…!

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy

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