americas cup

There is only one race left in the America’s Cup. Tension is high at work. Earlier in the competition, NZ was leading 8-1. First one to 9 wins. Eight to one!!!!! And what are the standings now??? 8-8??? Come on New Zealand!!! Tomorrow is the last race. My bet is they’ll postpone the races another day due to whales/submarines/low wind/high wind/sub-optimal temperatures.

Last weekend after Lauren finished work we went to Quake City (Canterbury’s earthquake museum). It had a lot of pictures and videos and artefacts from the 2 earthquakes. Pretty neat.

It’s been raining a lot. I want to climb climb climb but I’ve been stuck indoors due to the weather. I climbed some 21s and a 22 the other day in the gym (whilst falling off) so that’s cool!

I am in the midst of planning lots of epic adventures for before I leave. So far in the plan for sure is Wanaka/Queenstown for at least a week to climb, hut wardening on the North Island, a conservation project north of Auckland and a visit to Wellington. Other (hopeful) possibilities are climbing in Fiordland, hiking the Hollyford and a speedy trip of the North Island. A few more weeks of work I think and then we’ll see how things go.

 

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ski touring 101

Last weekend, Brendan and I ventured up to Temple Basin for NZ Splitfest (splitboarding festival). I’d been looking for a beginner friendly ski touring trip since I got here and this was the closest I could find, so I decided to give it a go.

temple basin topo

This was definitely the best weekend for skiing in terms of snow conditions, terrain, people, and how well I’ve been skiing. Brendan declared Temple Basin an “off-piste ski field” which I think is a good description as they have 3 rope tows (only 2 are running right now though) and even if you buy a pass, you have to do quite a bit of walking to get around. It is definitely not a great place for beginners or the lazy!!! Your day/weekend also starts with a walk up to where the huts/tows are of about 400m. Luckily your gear gets transported up by a goods lift or that would suck a lot.

On Saturday, Brendan took me ski touring and showed me the basics. It kind of feels like uphill cross-country skiing but permanently uphill and your boots/skis are way heavier. It felt a bit like trudging through mud. Best part about it was that it was freeeee! I reckon we did about 850m of vertical climbing that day.

Then on Sunday I did an avalanche workshop which was partly theory and partly learning how to use tranceivers. Everyone had left by the time that ended and my hip flexors felt like they were going to combust so I just skiied on the ski field for the afternoon. After I managed to fall into a hole filled with water (don’t ask) I decided to call it a day heehee.

I met a lot of really friendly people and a lot of really keen skiiers/snowboarders. One guy went up and down about a mountain 4 times in one day (about 500-600m vertical each time)! I don’t think I have that much determination.

Brendan skiied a route called ‘The Gultch’ on Sunday. He’s hardcore! Last year he attempted to ski Laila Peak in Pakistan (read here). I still find it pretty funny that we became friends after we took the same bus from Christchurch to Nelson. (me: why do you have such a huge ski bag when it is the middle of summer?!?!?!)

temple basin

Brendan’s line

NZ is small. The outdoorsy community is small. The climbing community is smaller. On Friday while staying at the Alpine Club hut in Arthurs Pass, I ran into my friend Chris and another person who I recognized who were both doing a mountaineering course. I also had met the guide that was leading the course in Wanaka. We then found out they were also going to the Temple area. Then up at Temple, I ran into the guy that I got a ride with last weekend to go skiing. Then in the hut, I ran into a bunch of people from the uni club who I’d been introduced to. And then I ran into our friend Kieran who I climbed with a few weeks ago at Gibraltor. Friends!

t-bars are awesome

I was a bit disappointed about skiing in NZ after I went up to Mt Hutt a few weeks ago, but this past weekend I decided to give a club field a try. The decision was made to head up to Broken River. NZ has profit based and non-profit based ski fields, which differ hugely in infrastructure, road access, grooming and atmosphere. I had heard great things about club field skiing, so I went!

The biggest difference I noticed was the lifts. At most of the club fields, you have to attach yourself to a rope tow using a harness and nutcracker. Robyn does a very good job of explaining the ‘nutcracker’ finger eater:

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Because the infrastructure at club fields is minimal, the lifts are often a bit of a doozy. Most club fields employ the ‘nutcracker’ rope tow system, which has been known to claim fingers. Basically you wear a harness, attached to which you have a ‘nutcracker’, which is essentially a metal clamp. The lift itself is a rope that spins in a big loop, over a series of terrifying pulleys. You have to stand at the bottom, cling for dear life to the rope while your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. The rope will slide through your hands creating some friction until you’ve got a grip on it. Once you’re up to speed with the lift, you flick your ‘nutcracker’ over the rope, and voila! You’re on. The battle isn’t over once you manage to get on the lift, though – once you’ve successfully clinched the rope with your nutcracker you have to face the pulleys. Your nutcracker clinks against the pulleys at a pretty alarming speed, and there is a risk that in your terror you’ll pull the rope off the pulleys. For one or two pulleys, this is usually not that big a deal, but once you manage to knock off several, you’re essentially being dragged up the hill by a snake-like rope on the ground. Oh, and then there is the forearm burn brought on by clinging to the nutcrackers to prevent them from popping open. It’s a very efficient way to get up the hill, but a pretty stressful experience.

… I am never going to complain about a t-bar ever again. Wowza, I really had a hard time with these lifts!!! I was planning on trying out some ski touring gear, but I spent the majority of the day falling off the rope tow, getting my thumb stuck between the pulleys and the cable (ugh), remembering how to ski, and sitting and moping by the hut.

It’s pretty cool though because the hut on the hill is like a normal backcountry hut. They have a shared kitchen with cooking facilities, communal dishes, a sandwich press, a bbq and even a deep fryer (haha!).

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I haven’t skiied since April or May 2012 and I was even having a hard time just remembering how to turn. I hadn’t had that bad of a day in ages!!! Skiing by myself a few times has really made me remember how much better it is to ski with good company. Past skiing buddies and family, I look forward to skiing with you again!

It was a pretty bad day, but whatever it’s ok, that happens.

In other news, I lived with Caireen in my first semester in Fiji, and now she is on TV as Miss Fiji in the Miss World contest.

And also if you’re feeling generous, you can help us raise funds for CureKids by donating here.

pictures from sebastapol

Your first view of Mt Cook as you drive up Lake Pukaki:
IMG_0585Mt Cook is 3,754 m tall and is NZ’s highest mountain.

Where we were climbing:

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This arete was pretty neat as it was a pretty random tower-shaped outcrop. Lets climb it!

You can also admire my lovely new zip-off shorts. When I got them I told myself I would never zip them off… but that only lasted about 10 minutes.

IMG_0610 IMG_0614 IMG_0608 IMG_0593It reminds me of a mini-Stawamus Chief. I reckon our first day was good training for the Chief as we climbed about the equivalent of half of it.

PS: The bushes in the picture above are EVIL

Here is a picture of the muddy Tasman Glacier. Maybe next time we will “WALK TO THE TOP OF THE ICE MOUNTAIN!!!”

IMG_0618Here are two purdy pictures of Mt Cook that I snapped on the drive home.

IMG_0636 IMG_0634Freda Du Faur was the first woman to climb Mt Cook. And not only that, she wore a skirt, blouse and broach during all her mountaineering escapades. Look!!!

Emmeline_Freda_du_Faur,_by_George_Edward_Mannering_(1862-1947)She is well-recognized for breaking gender mountaineering stereotypes. Before and after her trips, she would dress extravagantly and as feminine as possible. She looks cool!!!

Since the area was formed (modified?) by glaciers, the landscape is really interesting. There is one mountain (Mt Wakefield?) that really looks like someone was building a plasticine NZ and decided to put a mountain…. HERE (thump).

IMG_0612And probably the best hide and go seek spot ever:

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cattlestop, gibraltar, sebastapol

Climbing! Climbing! Climbing!

These past two weekends have been filled with sport climbing, trad climbing, gym climbing, slab climbing, crack climbing, face climbing.. climbing climbing climbing! Thus, this post is going to be a bit climby heavy. I have included an infographic at the end in case this all sounds like rocket science. I also have a lot of pictures but I’ll have to upload them another time.

Last last weekend, Matt (American masters student at Canterbury), Lauren and I discovered that the seconds bakery we went to in the summer sells monstrous bags of slice for $2. It was awesome sharing it with everyone at Cattlestop Crag, though it may have led to my inability to complete a top rope on Shimmering Jelly (20, highly recommended). My belly felt like shimmering jelly. I’ll have to go back sans-slice (no way!). I also did my first ‘real’ trad climb on a 14 crack at Gibraltor Rock (Coup de Grace, 14). I may or may not have had a meltdown in the middle of the climb. You can ask some of Lauren’s friends if that happened or not.

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Gibraltar Rock climbing,Jan 12th 2012 001

This past weekend we did an extended weekend near Mt Cook at Sebastapol Bluffs. I was planning on going there in the summer last year on the way from Queenstown to Christchurch but didn’t make it as the girl I was supposed to meet up with changed plans (needless to say I got to spend a couple more days with the crazy Germans/Austrians I travelled with and instead went towards Otago Peninsula & Dunedin, so that was fine too). It is known for it’s long/tall bolted slab climbs.

We had beautiful weather all 3 days. There wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. The first day we ran into Glen & Greg, who I climbed with last summer in Wanaka. The plan too is to go down to Wanaka towards the end of September to climb for a while again. We also met up with Craig one evening, who is down south ski touring. I travelled with him and Pia from Takaka to Wanaka. AND EVEN (!!!) we met up with Brendan, who I spent a lot of time with/travelled with around Nelson/Takaka. He’s been spending the past month being extremely hardcore (12 hour scree walk? no thanks) and ski touring up around the mountains near Mt Cook. We knew he’d be in the ‘area’, but it just so happened that he walked out the day before we got there. It’s too bad his feet hurt too much to climb.

Anyway, the climbing! We tried to hit lots of the recommended and highly recommended climbs. The first day we climbed on Red Wall: Red Arete (15, 4 pitches, 90m) and Shark Attack (17, 3 pitches, 87m) which are two of the most well-known climbs. It was a good introductory day.

Seb Bluffs

Red WallThe second day was a shorter day and we went to Kingfisher Slabs. There I led a Keep Left Arete (18, 35m) and Serias (20, 35m). Serias is the best lead I have done yet. I really love slab climbing and this was by far the hardest as it was really long and the holds were so small. I had to take a lot of breaks. We also walked up to the viewing point of the rapidly retreating (very muddy looking) Tasman Glacier.

KingfisherThe last day we climbed at Poo Pond Crag (named that as it is right behind the sewage ponds, haha!) where we climbed a funny arete called Scorpio’s Sting (16, 25m), The Snout (14, 22m) and Poo Pond Slab (16, 2 picthces, 50m). This area was very vegetated/mossy.

I’d love to go back to the area because it’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Not sure if it would be more rock climbing focused, but maybe more tramping/moutaineering/skiing focused. I want to go back.

Other then this, been up to the usual shenanigans. We had a charity bake-off at work last week for CureKids so (with Kat‘s suggestion) I made an oreo cookie dough cheesecake. Everyone LOVED it, it disappeared like wild fire and I won the cake category. It still gets mentioned once or twice a day. I think that’s why they keep extending my contract.

Oh! Monday I met up with Kevin who is my (fellow exchange student) friend John’s identical twin. John is from Iowa and goes to school in Colorado. That was really neat. I’m hoping to see Kevin & Cam again this weekend.

climbing2