The Shed…

The Shed…a place where tall stories can be told, a few laughs had, where you can grab a “coldie” out of the fridge to share with mates and if you are motivated it can double as a training gym.

Since arriving home from the Outback a few weeks back I have been heading up the driveway to “The Shed” in the pre-dawn darkness to exercise on my rowing machine and lift a few weights.

Don’t worry, I’m an early morning person…

Over the coming months my exercise regime in “The Shed” will involve high intensity workouts on the rowing machine and weight resistance training in preparation for my expedition to Papua New Guinea early next year.

And rest assured, there will be plenty of hill climbing with a 20 kilogram backpack and I could never go a week without getting in a couple of paddles on the surf ski.

And this weekend’s weather in the harbour city is set to be perfect for all kinds of outdoor pursuits…

Crikey, bring it on!

Baz – The Landy

(Photos: Janet-Planet)

 

 

 

 

 

Calling all Aussie Beach Bums

You’ve just got to love this time of the year in Australia, winter is well and truly past, the warmth of an Australian fast summer approaching…

And some of the best water-ways and beaches in the world…

I’m heading down to one of my favourite spots on Sydney’s northern beaches, Narrabeen Lake, with Janet and TomO.

The lake opens to the ocean at north Narrabeen, which has one of the best surf breaks on the east coast of Australia.

It is a tidal saltwater lake and a haven for all kinds of water birds.

 Hey sleepy-head get out of bed and jump on, I’ll take you around the lake on my Epic V10 – it goes fast just sitting there!

Crikey, how good are lazy Sunday mornings down under!

Baz…

 

Happy Australia Day (However you celebrate it)

I kicked-off the day with a 20-kilometre row and workout up in the shed to the sounds of Siouxsie and the Banshees and loving it!

Crikey, you just got to love Australia, hey!

Enjoy the day…

Big Bad Baz 😉

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…

 

Early morning fun (Australian beach culture)

surf skiAnother glorious start to the day on Australia’s eastern seaboard.

A 10,000 metre row on the C2 rowing machine in the pre-dawn darkness before heading to the beach for some fun with TomO, followed a breakfast of hot chips and tomato sauce; all before 8:00am…

Whoops sorry Janet, meant to say healthy muesli and yoghurt 😉

Photo: TomO

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

Pre-dawn Fun (Out and About, Northern Beaches, Sydney)

Wow, what a great morning down on the lake, on the water before the dawn and watching the sun rise was awesome!

How good are Saturday mornings!

Anyway, the sun is up now, so jump in and I’ll take you for a paddle around the lake…

Strewth – You wouldn’t be dead for quids (Out on the Lake)

Baz - Narrabeen Lake, Sydney
Baz – Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

With less than one week to go before I head off to climb in New Zealand I spent Saturday morning preparing my gear and getting it all packed away.

 It is hard to imagine that most of it will find its way into a 65-litre backpack.

Snow shoes, crampons, my best pair of Italian Leather boots, climbing hardware in the form of carabineers, devices and ropes, and plenty of thermals to keep warm up on the glacier and in the mountains…

Climbing gear
Climbing gear

But once that was out of the way we headed straight for Narrabeen Lake on Sydney’s northern beach’s, our second home, for a paddle with long-time paddling partner, Bob.

Bob, Narrabeen Lake, Sydney
Bob, Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

Janet, Annette, Bob’s partner, and Debbie, my sister chatted on the lake’s edge, while the younger “boys” were out on the lake in various watercraft.

TomO even had a paddle in one of the bigger boats, which resulted in a couple of “swims” for him!

TomO paddling "The Fenn"
TomO paddling “The Fenn”
TomO "Swims"
TomO “Swims”

And crikey, how good is the sun setting over the lake – you wouldn’t want to be dead for quids!

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

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

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

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

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

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

Narrabeen Lake, Australia
Narrabeen Lake, Australia

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

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

Janet and TomO
Janet and TomO

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

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

Jump on board – I’ll take you for a paddle (Narrabeen Lake)

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

Narrabeen Lake, situated on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia, is a beautiful sun-drenched oasis situated right on the ocean.

 It is a mecca for kayakers, windsurfers, and paddle board riders alike, a place where you can spend a lazy afternoon with family and friends under a shady tree just wiling away time…

Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia
Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia

 The lake, which is 10-kilometres in circumference, is my choice for kayaking as it has very few power boats on it and it makes for a great change from the daily rows on my static C2 rowing machine.

 Without fail, a pelican will glide by whilst out on the lake and how majestic are they to watch, something you don’t get to see on the rowing machine up in “The Shed“.

Rowing in the Shed
Baz on the C2 Rower

 Crikey, as much as I love climbing and mountaineering, and let’s face it you’d have to if you intend to climb Mt Everest, the other past-time I enjoy equally is just being out in one of my kayaks. Whether it is a training session, or just more of a laid-back paddle with friends…

 These days, I mostly find myself paddling my 6.5 metre long Epic kayak, a beautifully crafted and sleek boat which is quite fast, well in the right set of hands it is – but I’m working on that!

Baz - kayaking Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia
Baz – kayaking Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia
Epic Kayak, Narrabeen Lake, Australia
Epic Kayak, Narrabeen Lake, Australia

Next year this will be my choice of racing boat in the winter marathon series, a series of 20-kilmetre races run monthly for about nine-months.

And no, our winter doesn’t go for nine-months, so I’m not sure how that works out!

 Over the Christmas break I’ll be hanging up my climbing gear and heading for the lake with family, friends and the kayaks, to get some training in, and to simply enjoy the smell of the fresh sea air…

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

 Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret, so don’t tell TomO, but he’s got a paddle-board coming for Christmas, so maybe he’ll get it a day or two early, just so he can get Out and About on it this weekend coming. After all, it’s pretty hard to hide it up in “The Shed” with him seeing it…

TomO, The Haven, Terrigal, Australia
TomO, The Haven, Terrigal, Australia

 And after a lap or two of the lake there is nothing better than kicking back and watching the sun cast a golden hue over the water as it sinks into the western horizon…

Anyway, jump on board, I’ll take you for a spin around the Lake!

Strewth – Talk about an Aussie Icon (The Shed)

The Shed

You’ve got to love the Aussie Shed, a beacon in a sea of green grass, usually found near the back fence on any Australian suburban house block.

I love my shed and even though it was designed to house a couple of cars and all that other stuff that you accumulate over the years, you know, the Christmas presents that you couldn’t stand but didn’t have the heart to send to the refuse tip, they all invariably end up hidden away in a dark corner of the shed.

As a long-term fitness junkie, my shed houses surfboards, more kayaks than you can poke a stick at, a Concept C2 rower and my weight-lifting racks and associated equipment, as well as numerous bikes collected over the years.

Weight lifting in "The Shed"

Mind you, not all Aussie sheds house exercise equipment, unless of course you count the bar fridge in the corner, which is standard equipment in any shed. Often you’ll see the men-folk doing some elbow bending as they drink a toast to the day passed, usually just around the time the sun is going down over the yard-arm.

DSC_1157

Crikey, like a bunch of Cockatoos, high on the fermenting nectar of fruit consumed under a hot Aussie sun, the squawking tends to increase as the amber fluid flows.

And you can be sure a fair amount of advice is passed around, an exchange of ideas, thoughts, happenings, and the odd joke or two. A  bit like Speakers Corner where everyone is given a chance to say their bit, to tell their yarn in a not too serious way.

But I’m digressing…

Each morning around 4.30am, or silly-o’clock, as Janet suggests, I make the journey out the back door and up the driveway to the shed. Even the dogs, Milo and Jack, can’t be bothered to get out of their beds, preferring to wave me through. Although, usually after about 30 minutes or so one of them will wander up to see what is going on, but I suspect if they could speak they’d actually be asking for a feed, seemingly oblivious to anything else.

Such is a dog’s life.

Rowing in "The Shed"

Depending on the day I’ll either pursue my strength training, or use the rower for my daily cardio fix and although I would prefer to be out on the water kayaking it isn’t always convenient during the week, so the rowing machine is a great substitute.

I must confess upfront to being an early morning person, I guess you’d have to be to manage a 4.30am start each day, but it does have its advantages. In between the clanging of weight plates being moved, or interval sets on the rower, I can stand outside in the pre-dawn silence and marvel at the stars in the sky, the wondrous universe with you at its centre.

Or once a month watch a full moon setting in the western sky, and if I’m lucky even a shooting star to ponder a thought on.

DSC_1105

Strewth, what of the neighbours I hear you ask, what if they don’t share my love of the early morning?

I must say it is hard not to be tempted into playing some heavy metal, AC/DC or Led Zeppelin to help the mood and give that much needed pump for the session. But alas, it is mostly done in silence, apart from a moan or groan under the weight of a squat bar, or the last 500 metres on the rower.

DSC_1197

Hey, but it is fair to say, if I head up for an afternoon session, which is more often than not, it is always accompanied by some loud rock or heavy metal music. I’ve always said that Theo, our next door neighbour, is a closet heavy metal fan, so the relationship has never been strained, he doesn’t always say much mind you, but smiles a lot, so maybe he’s actually deaf.

And I’m frequently visited by Janet and TomO during these sessions, which is always welcome, mind you there would never be any chance of that happening in the morning, in fact I don’t think they know what 4.30am actually looks like.

Janet & TomO

There was a suggestion not too long ago that maybe the shed could be converted and upgraded to have a loft, an upstairs area where TomO and his mates could hang out, maybe even move into as he advances in his teenage years.

You know, a brand new building without the cracks that have accumulated over the years, possibly from too much heavy metal music resonating through the walls, or perhaps just cracking up from the tall stories that have echoed from within – but it just wouldn’t be cricket, and besides where would I put the bar fridge?

No thanks, I like my shed just the way it is, and as the sun slowly breaks the eastern horizon I’m heading to the shed for a row…

And as I do, I’ll leave you with a thought for today, one of my all-time favourites…

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

Hey, and if you get around to it, don’t forget to  Like The Landy on Facebook and check out some of the photos…

No ordinary moments (Crikey – that’s for sure!)

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

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

That has to be my all-time favourite mantra that I like to chant to myself, it energisers my mind, body, and spirit whenever I do. 

Strewth, I’m probably sounding like one of those weirdos’, but in any case, as I headed to the shed for my first row since falling ill with a viral infection just over one week ago, that little ditty was revolving through my mind.

I didn’t push myself on the 10,000-metre row, preferring to simply let me body find and regulate its own pace.  Consequently, this wasn’t my fastest or strongest row, in fact it would more resemble something I would do as a warm-up, or warm-down.

Baz - Kayaking off Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz – Kayaking off Terrigal Beach, Australia

But you know, it didn’t matter, this was one of my best rows ever, after all it signalled my body was getting stronger once again, back to normal.

And yes, as I headed back down to the usual spa bath and cold shower I had a beaming smile on my face.

Truly, even in the face of adversity, there are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

 Chant that mantra a few times to yourself today and you might find that the world takes on a whole new and wonderful dimension!

Crikey, I guarantee that strangers will smile at you, you’ll feel better inside, and you’ll feel empowered to tackle anything that life throws at you…

But of course, if all else fails, simply remain out of control and see what develops…

Baz - Out of control on the Waimak River, New Zealand
Baz – Out of control on the Waimak River, New Zealand

A Kayaking encounter with a Crocodile – (I survived the deadly Puk-Puk)

It isn’t too often that you get to have one up on a crocodile and live to recount the experience, let’s face it, they are one of nature’s most efficient hunters.

And it will always be the one that you didn’t see that will get you…

 A few years ago, Janet, my partner, and I lived in Papua New Guinea, an independent Nation just to the north of Australia. During our time there we tried to experience much that the country has to offer, and we travelled as much as we could.

Each day I paddled the coastline on my surf ski, a sit-on-top kayak measuring around 6 metres in length.  At the time there were no other craft like mine in this area, if not the country, and it always caught the interest of the villagers’. It was sleek and glided effortlessly through the water…

There was much to explore and the local villages I passed were always friendly and welcoming.

The tropical waters of the Papuan Coast are full of marine life, large stingrays, and majestic turtles, some of the most colourful reef fish you will ever see and of course sharks of many varieties.

I’m pleased to be able to say that the most common sharks I encountered where the black tip reef sharks which are mostly harmless if left alone. And I was often told they are well fed… Just on what and how often seemingly was an unanswered question.

Of course, the tropical waters are also home to the more menacing and much larger tiger shark.

From a hill top vantage point near Port Moresby, the capital city, I once observed the largest tiger shark I have ever seen.

It was following a pod of dolphins heading towards Local Island, which is situated about 3-kilometres offshore from the local beach, Ela beach.

We lived within a stone’s throw of this beach and it was a paddle I did regularly and after this encounter I was left wondering how many times I may have been stalked as I crossed to the island.

Papua New Guinea is also home to the saltwater crocodile, or Puk-Puk as it is known in the local language. I was always alert for the possibility of one of these creatures being present in the waterways I paddled. Realistically, I’m not sure what I would have done if I encountered one, and it is unlikely there would ever have been any forewarning before encountering the “death roll”.

The sight of local villagers’ fishing in the water from the shore was always a comforting sign, as they are also alert for the Puk-Puk’s presence. And normally there are telltale signs they may be present.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing paddling in Papua New Guinea and an encounter I did have with one of these creatures.

It was in the mountains about 40 kilometres from Port Moresby at a place not to far from the start of the Kokoda Trail, a place immortalised in Australian Military history.

I had decided to take my kayak into the mountains for a paddle down one of the rivers just for a change to the coastal paddling I was more accustomed to. During a two-hour paddle I was rewarded with magnificent scenery and a couple of friendly villages along the way.

I had Janet drop me off and I was to meet her at the Kokoda Trail Motel, a small pub, after negotiating my way along the river. I was a little nervous at first and any bump underneath the kayak left me wondering if these were to be my final moments before the jaws of one of these pre-historic creatures crushed the kayak, or worse!

There was an element of excitement about it…

As I made my way with the flow of the river I was observing the muddy banks for any telltale signs of a slide. Places where a crocodile may have slipped into the water from its resting point.

Crikey, in an instant my heart skipped a beat…

There was no doubting what I saw heading my way.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes every thing around you can go into slow motion?

Strewth, this was a moment suspended in time.

Was it to be my one and only encounter with a crocodile?

The final scorecard reading, Puk-Puk, one; Baz, nil…

I’m pleased to say it wasn’t…

Upon sighting my arrival on the banks of the river beside the motel, Janet ordered me a Puk-Puk steak for lunch and it was heading my way, suitably seasoned, and on a plate…

And to this day, the sight of Janet always makes my heart skip a beat!

I had many more visits to the mountains where I enjoyed a paddle, a Puk-Puk steak, and a couple of ice-cold beers with Janet…

And if you have never tried Puk-Puk, do yourself a favour, it is delicious; just make sure it is on a plate…

Here’s a recipe, just in case you’re tempted…

Va cava tiko (How’s it going)

I have always found there is something very romantic about the South Pacific. Palm trees swaying gently in a balmy late afternoon sea breeze. The sun gracefully sliding towards the western horizon in a warm glow of burnt orange as the sea caresses the golden grains of sand on a faraway beach…

 As a boy growing up I was an avid reader of the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, so it should come as little surprise that places like Yasawa Island were the playgrounds of my mind…

After a relatively short flight of fours hours from Australia, and another thirty minute flight in a small aircraft we arrived at the beautiful Yasawa Island Group in Fiji.

 

The welcome was warm and friendly.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner accompanied with a few wines, a restful sleep, before heading off for a snorkel this morning.

We weren’t disappointed!

Our week ahead promises to be one of fun and laughter, perhaps romance, with Janet, my partner, and TomO, our 12 year-old son. TomO has taken an active interest in girls over the past few months, and with a couple here around his age it will be interesting to watch…

After all, this was the setting for the movie Blue Lagoon…

 Va cava tiko: How’s it going!! (Pronounced vah-cah-vah-tee-koh) 

 

Just Trick Your Brain (It works for me!)

Most days I get out and about and do some form of exercise. One of my staples is rowing, and I belong to a virtual rowing team based in America, with members scattered around the globe.

The Luna-tics was formed by a group of NASA people many years ago with the intention of rowing to the moon and back on C2 rowing machines. Members log their metres whenever they row, advancing the journey.  We have been to the moon and back and we are on the return journey.

Currently I am standing at around 15,000 kilometres of  rowing over the past  4 years.

But I’m digressing, as usual, mind you if you are a rower we are always on the look-out for “space travellers” to join the journey…

Most, if not almost every day I will do some form of strength training, which will either be body-weight exercises such as push-ups, or chin-ups. Alternatively, I will do all the bigger compound lifts with weighted barbells.

I follow a progressive 5×5 program, which involves 5 sets of 5 repetitions with weights advancing in a periodised way over an 8 week cycle. There is plenty of information available on this style of lifting and it works best for me as I want strength development, rather than too much bulky muscular development.

And when I can I put some indoor climbing in there, or better still a climb up in the Blue Mountains with TomO, our son…

Since this year’s Coast to Coast race across New Zealand I have placed more focus on strength training during the winter months which requires some calorie excess to gain muscle. But over the next 3-4 months I will be looking to cut up to 10 kilograms out of my frame to prepare for the mountaineering and climbs I have planned next year.  I’ll do this progressively through diet management whilst continuing with the same exercise regime.

And on other days, if I haven’t run out of my quota of seven, I will grab my “sled” and load it with a sandbag and drag it around the park while carrying dumbbells or do sprints dragging it behind me, even go for a run…

But sleds are an awesome workout!

Of course there is my other passion, kayaking.

We try to spend weekends on the water, especially through the summer months.  And this is a family affair at Narrabeen Lake, on Sydney’s northern beaches. Well, Janet, my partner, is more inclined to be lazing around on the shore with the weekend papers, taking a well earned rest from the weekly grind.

She loves being part of it all, but is happy to get her exercise with a daily walk of our dogs, MilO and JackO, which can be quite a sociable affair with lattes and morning tea afterwards. Mind you, she’s first in line for the adventure bits, like skydiving, but less inclined if it involves a “Landy” style endurance walk…which can be a non-stop overnight affair…

If you’ve never experienced an overnight walk or run, give it a go. It is a different world out there in the dark, just pop a Petzl light on your head and go!

And including family is the key to my training. I don’t use a gym, preferring to work-out in the shed at home, and down at the beach or lake, that way we are all together…

And on diet, I don’t stress too much about the actual composition of what I eat, focussing more on controlling weight through portion size.  The formula is pretty simple, eat more than you need and weight increases, if that is what you need, or eat less and it declines.

Mind you, I am  pretty much a meat and three veggie man, so the diet is fairly well balanced by the time I add some fruit. And Janet is a wonderful (the world’s greatest) cook…

 But my point is this, it doesn’t matter what you do, or even how long you do it for, the main thing is you try and do something every day.

Consistency leads to habit…habits lead to life-long health benefits…

But don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day either, just get back to it the next day, sometimes a good snooze under the mango tree is just what the body needs!

The Shed

Having said all this, I ceased all weight-lifting this week as I don’t want to run the risk of injury ahead of climbing in New Zealand this coming week.

I manage injury risk through daily stretching, weekly massages and chiropractic adjustments.  I see these three things as just as important as anything else I do. But Murphy’s Law say this will be the week I’ll injure myself, so by stopping it I can manage the risk. It won’t make any difference to my fitness levels.

And none of this comes easy for me, but I try and look through the daily routine to what it is I am trying to achieve.

I visualise where I want to be.

The brain is an amazing thing, give it a thought and it will simply accept it without qualification. If you tell it you’ve already climbed that high mountain, or run that marathon, or just done a new PR in weight-lifting, it will believe you.

Next time you come to do it, it just happens…well, as long as you put the work in!

Every day I see myself on the summit of Cho Oyu, of people congratulating me on my return…

 Believe in yourself, your inner strength and Just Do It….

Get this – Climbed Mt Everest (Eight times)

Well I was excited a few weeks ago when I booked a mountaineering and climbing trip to the Southern Alps in New Zealand south island…

 Now I’m bloody excited, you know, like when you can barely control yourself, excited like when you still thought Santa came down the chimney!

 After an early morning paddle down at Narrabeen Lakes this morning, which I almost had to myself along with a few pelicans, I headed home for a final gear check and pack as I depart this coming Friday.

Whilst in New Zealand I’ll be climbing under the instruction of Dean Staples who is Adventure Consultants Chief Guide for New Zealand.

Dean is a highly skilled IFMA Guide and has guided many expeditions around the world for the company.  These include three ascents of Cho Oyu, two times to Ama Dablam, and the Vinson Massif.

He’s also travelled to the Antarctic Peninsular.

If that all sounds very impressive, get this, this year Dean summited Mount Everest for the eighth time, yes that’s right eight times.

My current goal is to summit Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth largest mountain peak, which measures in at 8,201 metres (26,906 feet).  But there is plenty of preparation and training to be done before I head off on that expedition, hopefully in 2014.

Under Dean’s guidance I’m hoping to learn some very valuable skills during my week in New Zealand, or N-Zed, as us Aussies affectionately call it…

We will spend the week in either Westland National Park, Mt Cook National Park, or Aspiring National Park, depending on where conditions are best suited. And as it is still very cold we will be staying in mountain huts rather than camping on the glaciers.

We will fly into the glaciers by helicopter or ski plane and at this stage we are planning to fly out at the end of the week, but that will depend on the weather and aircraft availability at the time, otherwise it will be a hike out.

Our focus over the week will be on crampon and ice axe skills, and crevasse rescues, with a few other mountain skills thrown in for good measure. So there should be a fair amount of ice-climbing.

This is designed to prepare mountaineers for climbing the “seven summits” the highest peaks on each of the world’s continents.

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

I’m also going back to N-Zed in January for a summit attempt on Mt Aspiring.

What makes this a real challenge for me is that I grew up in tropical Northern Australia, my playground was the Australian outback, and the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

 I was almost thirty years of age before I even set foot on snow, and I’ve never snow skied in my life.

And as I confessed in an earlier musing, I can’t even tie my shoe-laces! But I can tie quite a few mountaineering knots, lucky that!

 And what of Everest you ask?

Well let’s see if I can get to the top of Cho Oyu first…but Janet, my partner, has penciled it in the diary already, saying she knows me too well.

For me, I will be very happy to get to a position of where I could reasonably contemplate having a go for it…

 And thanks for the vote of confidence Janet…I’m taking it as tacit approval for the funding of that trip if it ever eventuates…

If you’re inclined, I’ll be updating Facebook when I can, check out The Landy there, just click ‘like’…

(Caution) Aussie Beach Bum – at work

The other day I wrote about an ocean paddle I had at ‘The Haven’ at Terrigal, just to the north of Sydney. It was a great day, but unfortunately there was little in the way of the ocean swells that can come that way, it was full of promise, but when we arrived there was very little happening…

The Skillion is a prominent feature in the area and is a promontory on the southern-end of Terrigal that commands excellent 360 degree views of the ocean and surrounding beach. It is also a popular whale watching spot and they are currently on their annual migration north…

We  had a lot of fun out there, catching small swells and sprinting through to the beach on them, a great work-out for those who would like to give it a go!

 And as I had the Go-pro running (don’t you love them!) I put some footage to one of my favourite Aussie rock-bands, The Black Sorrows.

And it makes a change to all the climbing I have been doing recently. Mind you there is plenty of that coming up very soon in New Zealand and I’m excited (very excited) about that!

I paddle three different kayaks, one is an Epic V10, which is a very fast boat, especially on flat water,  but it is also designed to perform exceptionally well in larger ocean swells. It weighs in at 15 kilograms (33 lbs), is 6.5 metres in length (21.5 feet) and is made of fibreglass, carbon fibre, and Kevlar. And despite its narrow width, it is quite stable once you get used to paddling this type of craft.

It only just fits into The Shed

The second is a Fenn XT, a great all-round boat that I have competed and paddled the Hawkesbury Classic Bridge to Bridge race in Sydney on. The race covers 111-kilometres and starts at 4pm on the last Saturday of October each year and runs through the night, supported by a cast of volunteers.

And if you haven’t paddled at night under a full moon, give it a go!

Starting as the sun slips lower on the western horizon the race usually has around 600 starters in all kinds of kayaks, and it is a great feeling covering those last few kilometres heading east watching the first strands of light appearing on the eastern horizon.

And after about 11 hours in the kayak you are suffering numb-bum… I’m calling that a technical kayaking term!

Anyway the Fenn XT is slightly heavier weighing in at 17 kilograms (38 lbs) and 5.8 metres in length (19 feet).  It is full fibreglass and that is what makes it slightly heavier.

I usually use this for ocean paddling as it is more stable and much easier to get back on in an ocean swell than its bigger brother, the Epic V10.

And yes, I swim every so often when that rogue swell or wave hits you and catches you off guard! Although, when you’re a kilometre or more offshore the thought of a great white shark lurking kind of encourages you back on pretty quickly…

My other boat is a K1 race boat, very old, and I have kept it for TomO, my son, to use! They are typically very unstable due to the narrow width, but extremely fast in the right conditions, and with a good paddler.

And he is showing signs of being just that!!

Freshly Pressed, Crikey – you’ve got to be kidding me?

The Landy – Out and About had many emails of support this morning. I was a little surprised to find the inbox filled with messages… 

I was even more surprised that one was from the good people at WordPress.com informing me that I had been Freshly Pressed!

I felt humbled…

There are so many wonderful stories on WordPress, many inspirational, plenty that are motivational, and of course there are those that give you a chuckle just when you need it.

It would seem unfair that anyone of these stories is singled out…

In fact, I have spent so much time reading them recently that I have a pile of books that I have put off reading, gathering dust in the study…

So to all, I simply say thank you!

In part, my blog is about my journey to climb an 8,000 mountain peak, the trials and tribulations, the warts and all account, but it is also an opportunity for me to provide a window into an average Aussie bloke’s day-to-day life.

The commas may not always be in the right place, or the grammar might be left wanting at times, but hopefully the story shines through…

I chose to share my story because the dream I have, my goal of high altitude climbing frightens me a little.

 Who am I that I should dream of such an undertaking?

And there is nothing wrong with being a little bit frightened, but I am determined to give it my best shot, approaching the challenge in a logical way and seeking the assistance of those who have been there, who have the skills, to learn those skills, but above all else to have fun trying…

Since putting my story out there I have received many words of encouragement. This encouragement is the energy, the fuel that powers me on…

Many people are on a journey, pursuing their dreams and it has given me great comfort to know that others are scaling their own peaks, whatever they might be. It is the collective sharing of these stories that demonstrates loudly that ordinary people are achieving great things each and every day.

The legendary mountaineer, Walt Unsworth summed up many of us when he opined…

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…”

That first kilogram of weight loss, or a new personal best in a running race, overcoming adversity, or baking the best cake you have ever made, these are the dreams of others, and they are no less or more significant than others, but the one thing these dreams have in common is they provide a starting point for us all to start our journey…

And for many of us the greatest support we receive is from our families, encouraging us to find the greatness that lies within us all.

TomO – Welford National Park

In the words of someone who inspires me, TomO, our 12 year old son. On taking my place on the start line in the Coast-to-Coast adventure race across New Zealand earlier this year, he took my hand and simply said – Dad, just embrace it!

I say to all who dream, “Just embrace it…”

Where’s the Surf…an ocean paddle

Today we celebrated Father’s Day in Australia, and we had an awesome day.  With Janet, my partner, and our son TomO, we headed to the Central Coast region just to the north of Sydney for some fun at ‘The Haven’ – Terrigal.

 Janet’s sister, Leah, and partner, Ray, and their beautiful son, Aubrey, joined us at Terrigal which is an old haunt of Ray’s.

Ray and I have decided to spend more time ocean paddling this spring and summer to help hone our white water skills. This will assist our chances in the Coast-to-Coast race across New Zealand next time we enter and hopefully give us an edge to improve our times from this year. It has a 67-kilometre kayak section, including around 35 kilometres of white water paddling along the Waimakariri River.

Ocean and surf paddling is a good way to assist in developing and advancing white water skills and is more accessible for us than white water kayaking. We have lots of beaches near-by, but very little white water other than the stadium that was used in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

And Terrigal turned it on for us today, we are only two days into spring and the weather was fantastic, if this is what we can look forward to over the next few months then we will be in seventh heaven!

I gave my other kayak, a Fenn Mako XT, a run today, its first in months as it is a very stable boat to paddle. Although it is slightly shorter than my Epic kayak, which measures in at 6.5 metres long, and 42 centimetres wide. Ray was paddling his Beachcomber Barracuda…

There wasn’t much of a swell coming through the Haven and further offshore a strong southeasterly was making conditions choppy, but we made the most of what was on offer spending about three hours on the water.

Ray was eyeing the large hill that shelters the Haven from these winds, pointing out that the stairs leading to the look-out would be good for a cardio-workout and was booking me in for next Saturday morning at 6am.  I was thinking of some ‘naughty’ words to use, but simply smiled and said…bring it on!

But hey, happy to put it in the diary as it is a great spot and we can finish off the session with a paddle in the kayaks, that will give me a chance to wreak my revenge on Ray…

And seeing TomO out on the paddle board today having fun in the sun whilst Janet and I looked on was the best father’s day present a dad could wish for…!

Out and About with the family, it doesn’t get much better than that…