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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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