Thursday, 29 October 2015

Polar training in New Zealand

A quick up, shake out the kit (πŸ˜‰πŸ˜€) and we headed out to the heliport at the base of the Glacier. 

We arrived on the glacier and the focus was setting up camp and putting the brew on. We literally dug in .... Something that i havent done for many a yearπŸ˜€. I have to say, i love the mountains and its so good to be back in them - there is something very peaceful about the mountains. After an extremely difficult couple of years but with the last being another 'turning point' (more to follow on that) I am starting a new chapter with 2600mile hike and 2 month expeditions to the South Pole, this should be a good starting point for the next stage.... especially as i am feeling stronger than i have ever before as i sit on the mountain with my integrity, principles and moral compass fully in tact. And that feels great and I guess comes with the above πŸ˜€

Ok, so there were a few realisations on this trip. One of them being how compact the tent was (i had a one person bivvi for the PCT) and the thought that 'i will of course have to use the peewee in the tent' (with two other guys) still seems a distant line that i have yet to cross!! I am sure that i will update you as i get closer to that line πŸ˜€.

On Sunday we, (ok so i say we .... But i really mean I hoofed the 53kg sled and Andy sailed up ahead, less a sledπŸ˜€) up the glacier. The sun was out so the sweat was on and with the ever increasing gradient and reaching the tipping (or dragging back point) on what i could pull up the mountain on the sled got ever closer πŸ˜€.
Sundays camp had proper cut out blocks of ice around the tent ... It looked very cool and worked a treat. 

Monday was more hoofing up to the cabin (weather was coming in) .... This was all fine except the cabin was perched at the top of a ledge πŸ˜€ .... 

Absolutely no worries, well until the tipping point was reached and i was left looking like a hampster attempting to walk on a stuck ferris wheel πŸ˜€. So crampons were put on and the final hoofing up the hill was completed. 

Monday was stunning ...a 'quick' stiletto transverse over to mount etna I was thankful that i didnt break a leg or twist a knee πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€. I love skiing but this 'nordic skiing' is on a different realm. But soon it was out with the mountaineering gear and up wee  Etna  πŸ˜€ it was stunning and my first snowy climb to a wee windy peak. 

The return back to the hut (yes a rope snory there or two) left me chuckling most of the way back ... Similarities of a beginner heading down a black run after fresh snow dump were quite uncanny πŸ˜€πŸ˜€. I should say, i can ski ... Just not nordic ski with soft boots - if you have not tried it - you must .... It has a fantastic comedy value - especially if you are watching!! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜³πŸ˜€ Luckily before i had my doubts of nordic skiing to the south pole i was assured that it was a gentle slope up and mainly flat to the pole.... No down hill or tranversing the hills πŸ˜€. Nonetheless there was a question of whether a (novice or not) nordic skiier would usually ski where we were. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ however, deepends are good places and by Wednesday ... I managed to keep upright and ski all the way down the glacier with only one fall πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€
So chuffed. 

It was so stunning ... I just didnt want to go back down 😬
(Photo by Andy Coles Photogrphy)

A great week that fitted my humour ... It was filled with supportive 'well dones and you are doing so well (so that gave me a good quantifier of my level!! that made me giggle!!) 

So now its just the flight back before i head out to the south pole πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ in a couple of weeks.... Its just too exciting for words πŸ˜€
Many thanks go to Andy Coles - a fab guide-  who was extremely patient especially with guide books, skidoos, falls and trees 😊... He has set me up extremely nicely for the next trip and future mountaineering πŸ˜€...... With a bit of British best thrown in πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

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