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

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

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”)

 

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

Dope on a Rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Mutawintji Gorge (Outback Australia)

Australian landscapes

Mutawintji Gorge is spectacular for its towering rusty red rock cliffs and overhangs, its magnificent rock pool, cool and soothing on a hot outback day…

 We took the time to wile away the hours at the base of the cliffs, and later climbing them…an oasis in the desert, a timeless place, inhabited by an ancient people.

 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

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

The Road to Recovery (Back at home)

Baz - Recovering
Baz – Recovering in the backyard

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

My doctor is very happy with the procedures and results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am missing the mountains.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 But crikey, bring it on I say

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

Good advice, perhaps!

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

Fair dinkum, she can read me like a book…

So see you mob in a few days, hey!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janet and TomO
Janet and TomO

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

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

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

About their very own Mt Everest…

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

Baz - Climb on
Baz – Climb on

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

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

The Shed
The Shed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

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

So what can I do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baz - Meteor Peak
Baz – Meteor Peak

Shelter from the storm (Almer Hut – New Zealand)

Shelter from the storm (Almer Hut - New Zealand)

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

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

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

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

photo: Baz, The Landy 

Parkour for Agility and Fitness (If you’re game enough)

Exercise forms part of the daily routine of a large part of the population and it can take many forms. 

Keeping it interesting, fun, and relevant is the challenge for most of us…

In our household, TomO spends a lot of his waking hours on our Olympic Standard trampoline and I usually get a bounce in most days as it is great for core strength and stability.

TomO - Urban Tramp
TomO – Urban Tramp
TomO -  In full flight
TomO – Just Hanging 

And Janet is out walking the MilO every day in between pilates classes and is our chief gardener, pushing the lawn mower over the yard regularly. This makes for a solid workout, especially given how fast our lawn grows during the warmer months.

Yes, I know lawn mowing is typically a man’s domain, but strewth, if I was to ever touch that lawn mower I’d be in strife, that’s for sure.

And of course, most days I can be found up in The Shed in the pre-dawn hours, or in the mountains and on the lake in my kayak most weekends.

The Shed
The Shed

But we are always on the lookout for new ways to exercise and of course, it has to be enjoyable.

Recently, TomO decided he wanted to give Parkour a go.

Par what I hear you say…

Don’t worry, I said the same thing!

It roughly translates to “the art of displacement” and like many training disciplines it was borne out of a military background.

The idea is that you move, jump, run, and tumble between and over obstacles of various shapes and sizes, even scaling walls.

We did a search to see if anyone was teaching Parkour in Sydney and found a group of young people at Jump Squad HQ teaching it on Sydney’s northern beaches, not too far from Narrabeen Lake where I train on my kayak.

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

This weekend TomO commenced his basic training and all I can say it was awesome, well TomO said that as well.  I was watching from the sidelines, but wishing I was in amongst it.

This is a discipline that teaches balance, agility, core strength, and judgement.  All the things I need to focus on as I head to the world’s highest mountains…

Balancing on top of a mountain with a severe drop either side with crampons on is quite an art! Self-preservation helps mind you…

Baz, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz, Southern Alps, New Zealand – All a balancing act

What really took my interest was an old round trampoline frame that they had the kids walking around for balance and agility.  I have been racking my brains as to how I could improve this skill myself, and there it was.

And we have a large trampoline in our backyard.

Now I might just look a little conspicuous and out of place joining TomO’s class, but I’ve already spoken to them about private lessons, and I might even be able to rope my partner in all things outdoors and adventurous, brother-in-law, Ray, into a session.

He’d be up for it no doubting…

So if you are looking for something to liven up your training you could always give Parkour a go…

And remember, if all else fails, just remain out of control and enjoy yourself…

We're always out of control - and loving it!
We’re always out of control – and loving it!
photos: Janet, Baz, and TomO…
YouTube: Jump Squad HQ, Sydney

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

Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

I signed up to do what? (Mates – Out and About)

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

It is been just over one month since I returned from my mountaineering training in New Zealand and I haven’t so much as touched a rope or any of my climbing gear.

 Mind you I need little encouragement to get “Out and About” in the mountains and with only eight months to go before I head to Nepal I need to be training as much as I can.

Unfortunately, my Achilles tendon remains sore although treatment is progressing. I’m working on the basis that rest is best, but it does test the patience!

I just need to get an adventure under my belt!

This past weekend we had a visit from Janet’s sister Leah, partner, Ray and their beautiful son, Aubrey. We always look forward to the time we spend together and usually it involves signing up for an adventure or two with Ray.

Ray, Leah and Aubrey
Ray, Leah and Aubrey

And we always have a good laugh as we dream up another adventure…

 But strewth, I’ve just been doing a list of the things I’ve agreed to participate in and it starts with a trip on the mountain bike this coming weekend. It will take us along a road built by convicts in the early days of European settlement in Australia.

 It is quite a pretty place, but there are plenty of hills and it won’t be any walk in the park. 

Although, Ray reckons he’s letting me off lightly because of my foot injury. I’ll be on the bike, he’ll be running the 50 kilometres (phew – I won’t complain too much about the Achillies any more!)

And hot on the heels of that we’ll be lining up for the next Tough Mudder Event in Sydney early April.  We completed it in September last year, twenty kilometres of running, tackling obstacles, and of course tons of mud, getting zapped by electric charges, running through fire – all good fun, seemingly!

Baz and Ray "survive" Tough Mudder
Baz and Ray “survive” Tough Mudder

Next, while we were out paddling on the lake early on Sunday morning Ray casually mentioned that I’d better be fit for the Coast-to-Coast Adventure Race across New Zealand’s South Island as he is putting our entries in shortly.

Ray - Beachcomber Kayak
Ray – Beachcomber Kayak
The Boys, Terrigal, Australia
The Boys, Terrigal, Australia

I don’t remember signing up for it, but it looks like I’m going next February. Actually, I’m looking forward to training for it; after all I need to be super fit for the Nepal expedition in November so I say, bring it on…

I made him do a 1-kilometre sprint in his kayak after that pronouncement!

 Whoops, note to self – tell the boss I need more time off!  Better still, with a bit of luck he’ll read this and come and pat me on the back and say, Baz, do you want a week off in February…

Baz crossing Goat's Pass - Coast to Coast Race New Zealand
Baz crossing Goat’s Pass – Coast to Coast Race New Zealand

But not to be outdone I raised the ante with all the finesse of a Mississippi River boat gambler and tossed in that we’ll need to do the 111-kilometre Hawkesbury Classic Kayak Race in October as preparation for the Coast-to-Coast race. After all the Coast-to-Coast has a 70-kilometre paddle down the fast flowing Waimak River.

Baz leads the field out in the Bridge to Bridge - 111 kilometre Hawkesbury Classic Kayak Race
Baz leads the field out in the Bridge to Bridge – 111 kilometre Hawkesbury Classic Kayak Race

You’d think he would have folded by now, but strewth, he’s still got those cards close to his chest, so I’m wondering what is going to get thrown into the pot next…

One thing is for sure; he’ll come up with something as there is plenty of free time on that calendar still, in between rock climbing in the Blue Mountains, of course.

But hey, you’ve got to love this stuff and doing it with mates is what it is all about!

Just go easy on me Ray…!

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

Baz and Ray, Tough Mudder, Sydney
Mates…Baz and Ray, Tough Mudder, Sydney
Ps: Oddly enough no alcohol was consumed in the planning of these adventures…

This is Incredible (Super-Hero’s, right?)

The Incredibles - You be the Judge!
The Incredibles – You be the Judge!

Now don’t you good folk go worrying that this Mr Incredible thingy that a wonderful person, Christina, wrote about me is going to my head.  You know, Bob Parr, family man, super-hero  from the ‘burbs.

Crikey, this is incredible, you’ve forgotten haven’t you.  My moment in the spot light and its slipped from your memory already…and it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

Your teachers were incredibly perceptive when they said , very bright, but needs to pay more attention to detail…

You can bring yourself back up to speed on it here.

Anyway, where was I, yes, don’t worry, there’s no chance of it going to my head, I’m far too incredibly modest to allow anything like that to happen.

And whilst I’ve got your attention for a moment or two, you’d have to admit that I am incredibly handsome. I just thought I’d put that out there, glad I got that out in the open for you, not that I’ve ever thought that myself mind you, never, no way, well not this week at least, not until this story appeared anyway.

In fact, so incredibly handsome that I can spend at least 10 minutes in front of the mirror admiring grooming myself each day.

Don’t just take my word for it, ask an incredibly impartial person, like Fay, my mother.

And someone did recently suggest that I looked like Harrison Ford.

Incredible…

True, you’re right, it was my brother-in-law mumbling something about Indiana Jones and we’re both doomed when the girls find all these empty beer bottles in the morning…

Of course, I am incredibly strong, what do you think I’m doing up in The Shed at silly o’clock each day with my cape and face mask…

The Shed - Or Super Hero hideout?
The Shed – Or Super Hero hideout?

Isn’t that what super-hero’s do?

And my boss, god bless his soul, did say that he’s glad I’m an incredibly talented mountaineer he’d believe anything I told him, to which he added that it is a blessing in disguise because I’m incredibly hopeless at trading currencies, but as he still needs someone around to send for coffee each day I should consider myself incredibly lucky!

That’s what I like about him, he’s incredibly generous when it comes to accolades about me…

And while I’m mucking around with this newfound fame word it would be entirely wrong not to mention that I have an incredible family, Janet and TomO.

Strewth, didn’t I luck out there, hey?

Yes, I heard you, incredible you said, didn’t you!

TomO, truly an incredible miracle for both of us, in fact so much so it often brings a tear to our eye…

TomO - An Incredible in full flight
TomO – An Incredible in full flight

And, let me tell you, he’s an incredible trampolinist, an urban tramp!

Oh yes, he’s an incredible son, incredibly likeable, okay, yes, he is incredibly cute and the Cheltenham girls are already checking him out on the train on the way to school each day, but who is this story about anyway…so let’s move on!

And speaking of Janet, she is incredibly beautiful with an incredible tolerance, spirit and adventurous personality.

Janet - An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia
Janet – An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia

Mind you, as I write this she has this incredible look on her face that is saying Mr Bob Parr you’re going to come to an incredible and sticky ending if you don’t take the rubbish out before the garbage man comes this week…it’s a short story, incredibly, I forgot last week.

Strewth, that’s right she’s an Incredible as well, best I don’t push my luck, so I’ll get on with that little job right now.

But let me say this, if I ever get to the top of some of those incredibly high mountains I want to climb it will be an Incredible super-human feat, well for me, in any case!

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

So to all, thanks for your continuing interest and ongoing support in the adventures that we get up to…and be sure to hang around for a while, I’ll be needing all the support I can muster to get me up those mountains…

And remember, there are no ordinary moments; no ordinary people; no ordinary lives!

Umm, Bob Parr, super-hero, hey…

Incredible!

What, someone has described me as Bob Parr (from The Incredibles)

Recently, I was approached by Christina from a Scribeslife asking if she could write a story about me, The Landy!

Of course I was rather flattered and Christina has put this story together and it appears in her blog.

But strewth, being described as Bob Parr from the Incredibles?

Just wait till “Bluey and the boys” down at the local footy club get a hold of this.

I mean, they’ve only just forgotten about the time I tripped on my shoelaces going down the aisle with Janet (it’s a long story, but I can’t tie my shoelaces properly!) and that was about a quarter-of-a-century ago.

Anyway, I guess it will be my shout again.

And while we are grabbing a drink, here’s a toast to Christina, be sure to check her blog out!

Bob Parr, hey? Umm, might get used to that…

And remember, if all else fails, there’ll always be “Bluey and the boys” to bring you back to earth!

One step at a time (The only way forward)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re suffering from what? (Retrocalcaneal Bursitis)

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

For those of us who run, walk, jog, exercise on a regular basis the term achillies tendonitis is probably equally as familiar as the dog that always chases you half-way through your usual running route.

I suspect the achillies is blamed for most of the pain occurring in that region, but it can also be from other sources.

Over a period of time I have been suffering from Retrocalcaneal Bursitis.

Retro what, I hear you ask.

And just to be clear and to avoid any confusion, the condition and associated pain is in my heel, well below, um, my rear-end.

So what is this ailment, what causes it, and more importantly, what makes it go away?

My sports physician and I have been working on the last part of that answer for some time now.  Bursitis is an inflammation of a little fluid sac found around most of the major joints in our body and it is designed to provide lubrication against friction where muscle and tendons are sliding over bones.

Retrocalcaneal Bursa(photo A.D.A.M Inc)
Retrocalcaneal Bursa
(photo credit  A.D.A.M Inc)

Retrocalcaneal bursitis is the area specifically located around the ankle and heel area of the foot.

Causes for the condition can be varied, but for the most part it is an overuse type of injury that can be induced by walking, running, jogging, and can be accentuated by walking uphill.

For me, that is a tick on all counts. Jogging, tick, running, tick…

Women People wearing high heel shoes can often suffer from the condition.

Last year when I was training for the Coast to Coast Adventure race, a race from the West to East coast of New Zealand ,the condition came and went and was usually treated with plenty of stretching and some anti-inflammatory medication.  However, the condition has worsened over the past few months, corresponding to an increase in my mountaineering endeavours, which involves plenty of uphill walking on steep inclines.

Baz - The Landy
Baz – The Landy

A recent x-ray confirmed that a small bone spur is triggering my condition.

Preparing blood for PRP Treatment
Preparing blood for PRP Treatment

And now that we know precisely what we are dealing with remedial treatment has commenced.  My sports physician has elected to use Platelet Rich Plasma injections, or PRP as it is referred to as.  This is a relatively new technology that involves taking a sample of your own blood, in the same way you would normally do so if having a blood test, and this is placed in a centrifuge to extract the plasma which is then injected into the injured area.

The science behind the treatment is that the platelets contain growth factors which stimulate an inflammatory and healing process.

Okay, I’m sure it is far more technical than that, but crikey, the last time I played doctors and nurses it was with the Kelly girls when I was 10 years old, and it was nothing as complex as PRP treatments.

But I’m digressing…

I had one PRP treatment about two weeks ago, along with a cortisone injection and I will be having a follow up injection in a week’s time to assist the healing process.

And whilst the treatment does not correct the bone spur at this time, it will help strengthen and thicken the achillies tendon and help protect against the aggravation, well that is what we are hoping for as surgery usually takes quite some time to recover from, but may be necessary eventually.

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

So another couple of weeks of rest away from the normal exercise routine, but I’m chomping at the bit and need to get extremely fit for the climbing expedition to Nepal later this year.

Strewth, can’t wait for that…

And remember, if all else fails, just remain out of control and take a big leap of faith!

Baz and TomO (two peas in a pod?)
Baz and TomO (two peas in a pod?)

The Shed – Font of all knowledge (And some tall stories)

The Shed
The Shed

Phew…“The Shed” hasn’t changed whilst I was away climbing in New Zealand.

It is still that grand old place where tall stories can be told, a few laughs had, a place where you can grab a coldie out of the fridge to share with mates, and importantly, it is my morning training hangout.

These past few days I’ve headed up the driveway in the pre-dawn darkness, a time of the day I actually enjoy immensely, to exercise on my C2 Concept Rower, and to lift a few weights.

Rowing in the Shed
Baz on the C2 Rower

Over the coming months my exercise regime in The Shed will revolve around high intensity cardio and building muscular endurance in preparation for my expedition to Nepal at the end of the year. Of course, there will be plenty of hill climbing with a 20 kilogram backpack, and I could never go without getting in a paddle on the lake at least once a week.

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

I’m always happy to be out hiking in the Australian Bush…and kayaking on our magnificent ocean beaches and inland waterways!

Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia

I will also be focussing  on improving muscular flexibility through yoga practice. Bikram is my preferred yoga and I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with it over the coming weeks.

Another focus of mine will be agility, something we seem to have in younger days and lose over time. Whilst I’m not too bad, my trip to New Zealand highlighted that I would benefit from undertaking some specific training, like balance beam walking with a back-pack…

And of course there’ll be plenty of rock-climbing up in the Blue Mountains to hone my rope handling skills and efficiency.

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

Something that I will be revelling in!

And my partner in crime, brother-in-law, Ray Tong, and I are scheduled to line up for another start in Tough Mudder in early April, and he is well advanced in his preparation, so I have some catching up to do!

Ray and Baz line up for Tough Mudder
Ray and Baz line up for Tough Mudder

We are looking to improve our time from last September’s Tough Mudder event.

Mind you, I’m currently suffering from a long term achillies tendon injury which has flared once again.

My sports doctor is treating it with Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP as it is usually referred to.  It involves drawing my own blood and extracting the PRP which is then injected back into my achillies tendon to assist recovery. The process can be done in the surgery and takes around 15-30 minutes.  To date, I have had one injection and another is scheduled for next week.

I’m also undergoing a very specific stretching regime to assist in the recovery.

Fingers crossed, as failing this it will require some surgery to correct.

Baz - Crossing Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track
Baz – Crossing Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track

But I’m confident all will be well within the next few weeks and I can’t wait to be back out in the mountains hiking and climbing.

All up, life is pretty good, wouldn’t be dead for quids…

And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what happens, or just take a leap of faith!

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

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

The Buttress - Mt Aspiring
The Buttress – Mt Aspiring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 It can be deflating…

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

Weather closing in
Weather closing in

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

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

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

Baz - upwards and onwards
Baz – upwards and onwards

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

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

No, I think it has a place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dope on a Rope (A boy with a dream)

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

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

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

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

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

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

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

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

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

Where's Baz?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard - on Bevan Col
Richard – on Bevan Col

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

This was it…

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

Baz - Bonar Glacier
Baz – Bonar Glacier

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

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

The Buttress - Mt Aspiring
The Buttress – Mt Aspiring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was not to be our day on the summit…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who, me, Baz – The Landy?

Damper and Golden Syrup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

About their very own Mt Everest…

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

Baz - Climb on
Baz – Climb on

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

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

Weight lifting in "The Shed"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care you ‘all…Baz

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

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

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

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

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

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

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

Narrabeen Lake, Australia
Narrabeen Lake, Australia

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

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

Janet and TomO
Janet and TomO

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

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

Mountaineering Expeditions in 2013 (Climb-on)

Climbers nearing summit of Mt Everest

Well 2012 is disappearing very quickly and before we know it the guy in the big red suit will be popping down chimneys, eating the cake, drinking the milk, and enjoying rum that has been left out for him as he makes his annual run from the North Pole.

Crikey, how do you get a job like that? I mean, you work one day a year, get the spoils of the job, and make lots of people happy!

And a nano-second later we’ll all be joining hands and singing old langsyne as we see off 2012 and welcome in 2013.

In our household 2013 signals the start of quite an ambitious travel program, brought about by my desire to climb the world’s highest mountain peaks.

It kicks off early in January when I make my way to New Zealand to climb Mt Aspiring which is situated in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.  Janet and TomO will be following shortly after and will spend a few days travelling before we meet up in the picturesque town of Wanaka.

Wanaka
Wanaka, New Zealand

Mt Aspiring is called Tititea by the indigenous Maori people and stands at 3,027 metres and it is described as having sheer faces and graceful lines.

We will travel from the headquarters of Adventure Consultants in Wanaka to Bonar Glacier by helicopter as it is usually a 12-14 hour walk otherwise. We then have a 2-3 hour walk on the glacier to reach our destination, Colin Todd hut.  And depending on how many people are at the hut we may need to camp out in our bivvy bags on Bevan Col.

The View - From the Dunny
A typical New Zealand Alpine Hut

The first couple of days will be spent acclimatising and revising cramponing skills, ascending steep snow and ice, and of course, importantly, crevasse rescue. I have spent a lot of time on rescues in the Blue Mountains in recent times and I have a strong belief that you can’t do enough of it – it may save your own, or someone else’s life and the skill needs to be second nature.

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

Prior to an attempt on the summit of Mt Aspiring we will spend a day climbing some smaller peaks in the area, such as Mt Bevan. It stands at 2,030 metres and they say the view from the top is glorious.

There is something like 27 different routes that can be taken to the summit of Mt Aspiring all of varying degrees of difficulty. Many of these routes will not be available to us due to the time of year we are attempting it. We are anticipating our route to the summit will be the classic North West Ridge route, but a final decision will be made at the time.

Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring

Ascent day will begin at 3am in the morning and may finish as late as 7pm that evening and we can expect a mixture of snow, ice, and rock as we progress towards the summit.

The second week in the mountains will most likely be spent in the Mt Cook region, where we will concentrate on some ice climbing as well as a number of ascents over the week. The structure of the week will be decided at the time and where we climb will be dictated to by the prevailing conditions.

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

There are a number of possibilities, including Mt Aylmer which stands at 2,699 metres, Mt Elie de Beaumont which gives commanding views of the Tasman Sea from its 3,109 metre summit.  Other likely climbs include Mt Green and Mt Walter, which both stand just less than 3,000 metres.

After making our way back to Wanaka once again, I will be meeting up with Janet and TomO who will also be full of tales of adventure after their week travelling around in the Southern Alps. They are planning a helicopter trip to Fox Glacier as well as taking in the scenery of the fabulous Southern Alps…

Mid-year, I will be returning to New Zealand to hone in my ice-climbing skills while Janet and TomO spend some time on the ski slopes around Wanaka and Queenstown.

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

And the big trip is at the end of 2013 when I head off to Nepal to experience the Himalayan Mountain range.  This is an expedition to climb three peaks, Lobuche East, Island Peak, and Pokalde.  The first two are just over 6,000 metres in height, and Pokalde stands at just over 5,800 metres.

Mountaineering
High Altitude Climbing

This expedition will provide me with the stepping stone towards an 8,000 metre peak, either Cho Oyu, or Manaslu in 2014. It seems so far away, but time will go very quickly, and there is still much to learn, and 2013 will also be spent taking my fitness to a complete new level.

Janet and TomO will be travelling to Kathmandu where we will spend a week resting together and hopefully visiting some of the Sherpa villages.

We believe this is a great opportunity for TomO to experience different countries and cultures, and he is relishing the opportunity.

Tomo's note

Of course, he has already made noises about standing on top of Mt Everest with me, and perhaps that day will come.  But it is one step at a time, one foot after another, and hopefully the program over the next 12 to 18 months will set me up for an attempt on Mt Everest in 2015…

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

Together
TomO, Baz, and Janet

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!

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

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

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

 And we did all of those things  this weekend!

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

DSCN0047

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

And I had a great time doing that.

DSCN0030

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

DSCN0021

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

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

 Janet already wants to sign up for the next trip!

DSCN0068

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

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

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

DSCN1460

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climbing Tom Thumb (Back to the Blue Mountains)

Where's Baz?

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

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

Baz - Climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

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

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

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

Palais Royale, Katoomba

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

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

Crikey, this is the life, hey?

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

Ordinary People – Achieving Great Things

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

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

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

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

 These words summed me up perfectly, I thought.

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

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

Sweet Dreams Climb, Blue Mountains, Australia

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

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

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

Baz over Picton, Australia

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

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

Summit of Grey's Peak

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

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

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

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

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

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

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

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

Weight lifting in "The Shed"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PNG Kokoda

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

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

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

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

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

Menari Village, Papua New Guinea

Vertigo Alert (Where’s Baz?)

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

Crikey Baz, what are you doing down there?

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

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

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

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

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

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DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pioneer Hut, Fox Glacier
Pioneer Hut, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Pioneer Hut, looking west to the Tasman Sea
Pioneer Hut, looking west to the Tasman Sea

That trip was a true eye opener as to what lies ahead.

Mt Aspiring is known to the Maori people of New Zealand as Tititea, the glistening one, rising 3,027 metres out of the landscape to tower over anything nearby.

It is described as having sheer faces and graceful lines.

We will travel from the headquarters of Adventure Consultants in Wanaka to Bonar Glacier by helicopter as it is usually a 12-14 hour walk otherwise. We then have a 2-3 hour walk on the glacier to reach our destination, Colin Todd hut.  And depending on how many people are at the hut we may need to camp out in our bivvy bags on Bevan Col.

The first couple of days will be spent acclimatising and revising cramponing skills, ascending steep snow and ice, and of course, importantly, crevasse rescue. I have spent a lot of time on rescues in the Blue Mountains in recent times and I have a strong belief that you can’t do enough of it – it may save your own, or someone else’s life and the skill needs to be second nature.

Baz - Fox Glacier, practising crevasse rescues
Baz – Fox Glacier, practising crevasse rescues

Prior to an attempt on the summit of Mt Aspiring we will spend a day climbing some smaller peaks in the area, such as Mt Bevan. It stands at 2,030 metres and they say the view from the top is glorious. It was also the scene of a rescue of a number of people trapped on Bevan Col and recounted in the book by Paul Powell, Men Aspiring.

There is something like 27 different routes that can be taken to the summit of Mt Aspiring all of varying degrees of difficulty. Many of these routes will not be available to us due to the time of year we are attempting it.

We are anticipating our route to the summit will be the classic North West Ridge route, but a final decision will be made at the time.

Ascent day will begin at 3am in the morning and may finish as late as 7pm that evening and we can expect a mixture of snow, ice, and rock as we progress towards the summit.

After spending 7-days on the glacier, and hopefully with a successful summit of Mt Aspiring under the belt, we will return to Wanaka where I’ll be joined by Janet and TomO for a few days of rest and relaxation, before once again heading into the mountains.

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

The second week in the mountains will most likely be spent in the Mt Cook region, where we will concentrate on some ice climbing as well as a number of ascents over the course of the week. The structure of the week will be decided at the time and where we climb will be dictated to by the prevailing conditions.

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

There are a number of possibilities, including Mt Aylmer which stands at 2,699 metres, Mt Elie de Beaumont which gives commanding views of the Tasman Sea from its 3,109 metre summit.  Other likely climbs include Mt Green and Mt Walter, which both stand just under 3,000 metres.

After making our way back to Wanaka once again, I will be meeting up with Janet and TomO who will also be full of tales of adventure after their week travelling around in the Southern Alps. They are planning a helicopter trip to Fox Glacier as well as taking in the fabulous Southern Alps…

Before we leave for home, we will strap ourselves in the world’s largest canyon swing located near Queenstown. TomO can’t wait, and he’ll go twice he says, a tandem with both Janet and myself.

I am hoping to achieve as many summits as possible on this trip, especially Mt Aspiring, however there could be many reasons why a summit is not possible. Above all else, what I am looking to achieve is safe mountaineering as that is what will assist me the most as I head to Nepal at the end of 2013 – but that is a story for another time, for now it is simply, one step at a time!

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

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

Strewth – You’ve been where? (In Hospital)

Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

It is often said that 24 hours can be a long time and I’m hearing that loud and clear at present and counting my lucky stars that I managed to do my climb up Sweet Dreams last Sunday without any problem. It might have been so different, but for 12 hours…

 I’ve only managed to be hospitalised three times over the years, and one I’m not really counting as I really shouldn’t have been there, but more on that later. However, there was no doubting this time around, hospital was the best place for me…

Sublime Point, Sweet Dreams – Not the place to get sick!

 The Blue Mountains is about a 90-minute drive from Sydney and after Sunday’s climb up Sweet Dreams I headed for home, ensuring to hydrate well as I drove as it had been quite a warm day out there on the cliff-face and I was beginning to feel quite fatigued…

It was an ominous sign that went unrecognised …

Sunday night I woke up feeling cold and I was starting to shiver despite it being a reasonably warm night, but I didn’t think much of it.

Janet rolled the other way mumbling something about me being hot.

I just said, “I know!” 

By Monday something had taken hold of me and was giving a real good kicking, so I rested in bed, sweating profusely.

Perhaps this is what Janet meant when she called me hot, I thought?

There was a rapid deterioration on Tuesday and our family doctor sent me straight to hospital where I was admitted for assessment and observation. It turns out I had contracted a form of pneumonia called, mycoplasma, the walking pneumonia”.

Well, at least that is how they are treating it…

After 24 hours on an intravenous drip and blood tests showing some improvement, especially in terms of hydration, they elected to send me home for some more rest…

Some rest?

 Crikey, I had to look that term up…

I thought you got to rest when the “big guy” upstairs blows the “full-time whistle” on you…

Anyway, I am well on the way to recovery thanks to the wonderful medical team at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Sydney’s northern suburbs.

And I’m back home now and in Janet and TomO’s tender care! The little fella was a bit upset at seeing his Dad all hooked-up to a machine last night, but he gave me a big long-hug and told me to get better soon!

Geez, he was brave, and he made me feel real proud!

And Janet, she winked at the nurses and said don’t worry I’ll make sure he rests, with that look that you never cross! So rest it will be…for a few days anyway!

And how is this for a co-incidence, as the wardman was taking me down for a chest x-ray, I said how lucky I was that it didn’t happen on a climb I was doing on the Sunday.

He said, “Yeah, that’s for sure”

“What were you climbing?” he asked,

“Sweet Dreams”…

Baz – Climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

Awesome was his response, he had climbed it just recently so we were able to share a discussion on the climb while I was getting x-rayed!

But, geez, just how lucky was I that my condition didn’t become acute 12 hours earlier while I was half-way up Sweet Dreams. It has been a good reminder to me that you must always consider your physical well-being at all times when undertaking something like mountaineering and climbing, or any activity that exposes you for that matter…

Not that I didn’t consider my well-being mind you, I felt fine, but it did highlight what might be lurking just around the corner, anywhere, anytime!

And on those other times in hospital?

Well, I did break my “bum” in 2008 in a mid-air incident whilst skydiving, which resulted in doctors’ needing to reattach my hamstring to my right butt and a spell in hospital! And what a great job they did, it just so happens that a local surgeon is world renown for this very type of surgery…

And the one in dispute?

Strewth, I was 5 years old and I feel that I fell victim to a misdiagnosis. Well that is the way I’m calling it.

I threw up mum’s cooking one night and she swore there were “toadstools” amongst the “throw-up”.

A lollipop?

 Stone the flamin’ crows, how would you know what was in that mess I made?

I swear to this day I never ate them on the way home from school, but worn down by the constant questioning I simply said; they just “popped in my mouth” – what else could I say?

It got me a 5-day hospital sleepover whilst under observation!

Crikey, I don’t remember eating them, and maybe that was just the point.

It’s no wonder the Noddy and Big- Ears television show took on a new dimension that afternoon on the tellie…

Anyway, as usual, if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops…

Ps: I’m all good!

Dope on a Rope – (Smokin’ on Sweet-dreams)

Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

Dope on a Rope, sweet-dreams, you might just be left wondering what has Baz, The Landy, been getting up to.

 Don’t worry, I haven’t taken to peddling anything down a back-alley, but I was climbing today in one of the world’s greatest outdoor playgrounds, the Blue Mountains, which is situated about 100 kilometres to the west of Sydney.

Baz on Belay – Sweet Dreams Climb, Blue Mountains, Australia

And why Dope on a Rope I hear you ask…

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

Baz on final pitch – Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz on final pitch – Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

 

Baz on final pitch – Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

And the first section today certainly challenged me.

But I’m pleased to say my skill base continues to improve ahead of my attempt to climb Mt Aspiring in New Zealand’s Southern Alps in just over a month’s time.

Today, I climbed with Rachael from the Australian School of Mountaineering, which is based in Katoomba and it was at her suggestion we climb Sweet-Dreams, situated at Sublime Point near the village of Leura.

Rachael – Leading Climbing

I have to say we had a lot of fun and laughs as we scaled the 110-metre wall in 5 phases; a pitch is the technical term.  We walked into the start of the climb, which is 100 metres above the valley floor, so by the time we reach the top of the climb you are over 200 metres above the ground!

Throughout out the climb we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the Blue Mountains most spectacular rock formation, The Three Sisters, and I have to say, I never get tired of that view…

The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia

 Geez, you just wouldn’t want to be dead-for-quid’s!

And by crikey, the temperature was quite warm and whilst we try to keep gear to a minimum on these climbs we had plenty of water with us, but let me tell you, by the time I got to the top my throat was as dry as a pommie’s bath towel…

 Dope on a Rope?

 Sweet-dreams?

 You betcha!

Baz – The Landy

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

Hey – Whatever Floats Your Boat (Just as long as you’re happy)

Concept2 Rowing Machine in “The Shed”

One way I keep fit and healthy is through rowing, something I do up in “The Shed” on my Concept2 rowing machine  most days.

Mind you, I would much rather be out on the water in one of my kayaks, which is a regular feature of our weekend when we aren’t Out and About in the mountains, but time constraints can make this more difficult during the week.

Baz on his Epic V10 – Narrabeen Lake, Sydney, Australia

And whilst it is a solitary pursuit in the predawn darkness up in the shed, I’m never alone when I row thanks to my fellow team-mates in our virtual rowing team.

I belong to a global team of about 80 rowers, a great bunch of people mostly based in North America and we go by the name of The Lun-atics

The team was set up many years ago by a group of NASA employees with the intention of collectively rowing to the moon and back. Yes that’s right something like 384,000 kilometres, or as those in the rowing community tend to express distance in metres, a whopping 384 billion metres.

Crikey, let’s just settle on – it’s a long way there and back.

Well that is something we achieved in 2011 and we are now on the return voyage back to earth!

As a matter of interest, over the past four years I have covered the equivalent distance from Sydney to New York on my rowing machine, some 16,000 kilometres of rowing!

Rowing in “The Shed”

Anyway, a couple of days ago I was having a chat with one of my rowing mates and it got around to best times rowed, typically over 10,000 metres, a distance I train for. The 10,000 metre distance requires a good balance between speed and endurance and my best time is just under 38 minutes.

Our inclination as mere human beings is to want to compare ourselves, to see how we shape up against our peers.  It might be in the gym, comparing how much you can lift versus someone else, or how fast you can cover 50 metres in the pool.

Weight Training – In “The Shed”

But I always question, is this the right comparison to make?

Sure, if you’re in a competition, where time taken or weight lifted, determines who wins the gong and who goes home empty handed, it is important. But for those of us who exercise mostly for health and fitness it is almost pointless, and might even be demotivating.

There will always be someone doing more, or going faster, depending on where you are and who you are with.

The true comparison is at what level you are pushing yourself and this might be measured by what zone you are training in determined by your heart-rate, or how much you are lifting versus your one-repetition maximum.

If you are training to the maximum of your ability, it doesn’t matter how fast, or how much, you are as equal to anyone else doing the same.

Anyone giving 100 percent is giving 100 percent, right?

Baz – Coast to Coast Adventure Race, New Zealand

Life is much the same, it doesn’t matter what you are doing that counts as much as whether you are getting satisfaction and happiness from it.

Strewth, my sister does quilting, and at the risk of upsetting all those quilters out there, all three of them, I don’t get it myself, but then she doesn’t quite understand the need for me to stand on top of big mountains. She’s not the only one mind you!

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

But you know what – we both love pursuing our individual interests and we’re equals because of the happiness it brings to our lives…

That is what truly counts, it isn’t the what, or how much – unless of course you’re going for gold, but that’s another story altogether – those Quilters’ are a competitive bunch!

Don’t go falling between the cracks (Just embrace life)

Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Austalia

Are there times that you feel like you are falling between the cracks, swallowed up by a world that just doesn’t seem to slow down?

 I’ll confess I do sometimes…

Baz – sliding through the crack, Boar’s Head, Australia

 But whenever I do I get a little echo in my mind, a little ditty that TomO said to me before competing in New Zealand’s Speight’s Coast to Coast Adventure Race earlier this year.

 “Dad just go out there and embrace it, enjoy yourself” TomO said,

Baz – Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand
Now would be a good time to embrace it Baz!

 Crikey, it blew me away at the time, but you know, it sounds like damn good advice to me…

 So I’m going to get out there and embrace the day, hit it head-on…

Baz& TomO – embracing the moment

And remember, if all else fails, just Like The Landy on Facebookremain out of control and see what develops…

On a Ledge – Where Eagles Dare (Where’s Baz)

Where's Baz?

I was looking over some of the weekend’s climbing photos and I was admiring one in particular.  A beautiful shot of one of the walls we climbed.

 A very special place where you could just linger and contemplate the world passing you by.

Anyway, I looked at this photo, quite a few times and to my surprise, there I was sitting on a ledge, where eagles dare!

Janet, TomO, and I looked at this photo numerous times and none of us noticed me sitting there initially (story of my life!).

The photo was snapped by Nick, my climbing partner, after he lead climbed to our next pitch while I belayed him.

TomO

It reminded me of the special moments that TomO and I have had looking at his Where’s Wally books that I bought for me him. We loved them, and spent many hours flicking through the pages. And I was actually pretty good at it, maybe that is because I am colour-blind or something!

 So, can you pick out “Where’s Baz” in the photo…

Special moments, how good are they, hey?

And remember, if all else fails, just Like The Landy on Facebookremain out of control and see what develops…

Dope on a Rope (Just hanging out – in the Blue Mountains)

Life in our household is just one big ball of fun, frivolity and adventure. And I must say, we work hard to make sure it is. 

Mind you I’m wondering who invented this work thing that seems to wedge itself between the fun days…

And if we do need to suffer this work thing, couldn’t have they come up with a better plan? I mean wouldn’t something like five days of fun, two days of work suit us all just a little bit better?

 Actually, I do like my job and I can’t complain too much. I have a great employer, work with a fun bunch of people and besides, it pays the bills and keeps TomO in X-box games.

Okay, yes, it is true, my boss does occasionally read this, so I like to toss him a bone every now and then!

Anyway, today, TomO managed to get through his first date emotionally unscarred, Janet read the Sunday papers on the couch with a hot cup of tea and Milo the wonder dog kept her company…

And long before they surfaced to see if the sun had risen today, I was on my way to the Blue Mountains for a day of abseiling and climbing. It was a fantastic day abseiling from Boar’s Head, and then climbing back out. It is quite a remarkable rock-formation situated not too far from downtown Katoomba.

I have been trying too do as much rope handling, abseiling, and climbing as I can ahead of the ascent of Mount Aspiring, in New Zealand’s Southern Alps this coming January.

The Blue Mountains is a fantastic playground, with something for everyone, and if you love adventure you could get yourself lost there for a thousand life times!

Crikey, I was just looking at some of today’s piccies and thinking, strewth Baz, you can’t even tie your own shoelaces and you’re hanging off the side of a cliff, with a rope you tied a knot in!

Clearly, I’m having better success with rope climbing knots, thankfully!

But back to work tomorrow and that’s another adventure altogether!

And remember, if all else fails, just Like The Landy on Facebook, remain out of control and see what develops…