Monday, August 6, 2012

I Am A Mountaineering Machine

What a weekend!  It was amazing! It was incredible! It was spectacular!  It was so unbelievably awesome that I had to spend the better part of my morning detoxing on a near overdose of dropping f-bombs because simply saying something like, "This is the most beautiful sunrise ever" did not have the same emotional punch that "This is the most f-ing beautiful sunrise ever" had.

So, two cool things happened: I learned how to walk with crampons (those spiky things attached to my boots) and how to use an ice axe.  Typically, I'm accident prone.  So, placing a sharp object in my hands or on my feet is usually a no-no.  However, the kiwis were unaware that I have  cut my fingers with the sharp edge of a knife while trying to cut brie cheese with the blunt edge of a knife; nor were they aware that I once stapled my thumb while putting together a display of studying tips for freshmen when I worked as an academic mentor.

On Friday, we arrived at the lodge.

On Saturday, we walked up to the day hut just below Waitaki Face.  On the walk we learned about kicking our feet into the snow rather than stepping straight down.

Eventually, we made it to the day hut where the real fun began.

First, we practiced walking with just boots on our feet.

Then, we moved a little up the mountain to practice self-arrests.

Believe it or not, my favorite part was sliding headfirst on my back down the mountain and maneuvering onto my stomach, feet first, and digging the pick of the axe into the snow/ice to stop myself.

Before we headed back for dinner (by the way, roasted pumpkin/potatoes/onion/garlic and cooked broccoli/carrots and pan fried tofu in garlic/onion/butter/salt makes for a heavenly meal) we took turns bum sliding down the hill (this worked better than sliding down on a shovel or an inner tube).

I slept on the top bunk and on Sunday I was woken up to this view from inside the hut:

I scrambled down the ladder and booked it outside to catch the sunrise.  It was... beautiful.

After breakfast and a walk up to the day hut, we set out to haul ourselves up Foster's Peak using a combination of daggering and French technique.

Not a bad day, eh?

Target destination: straight ahead.

Ready? Set...


I had the option of taking an easier route, but what fun would there be in that?!  After I got to the top, I was greeted with a Tim Tam Slam break (like a real kiwi!) and then we huddled together for a lunch break.

This was my view for lunch.  Hard to believe that at one point I used to have lunch in the hospital cafeteria!  This beats that hands down a million times over!!!

What goes up must come down.  After lunch, it was time to get back to the lodge and head home, but first...


Followed by...

Not a shabby place for a little Sunday morning walk.

If there are students who plan to study in New Zealand and enjoy the great outdoors then bring your own gear!  It is insanely expensive to purchase boots, a pack, and a sleeping bag.  Here's my list of things I want to buy for tramping (I've been entering LL Bean's give away, but no luck yet. *sad face*  That's okay, I'd still recommend their fleece lined raincoat!).  

  • Boots (I can tolerate soggy feet, but something like this may keep them dry - oh la la!)
  • Wool socks
  • Gaitors (these fall under the trying-to-keep-my-feet-happy theme, but also useful when tramping through that sonofagun stuff called gorse!)
  • Hiking pants (loving my waterproof pants, but something that is less baggy/more stylish would be grand... I am a fashionista-in-training after all) 
  • Cozy hat
  • Gloves (is it possible that they could keep my hands warm and dry during a bush bashing session?)
  • Compass (New Zealand specific.  Interesting, eh?)
  • Sleeping bag (you would faint if you knew how much $US I've spent on both the sleeping bags that I bought in New Zealand and I still FREEZE even in a hut!  Something that'd keep me warm indoors and outdoors would be fantastic)
  • Sleeping bag liner (Celia swears by silk, but anything that keeps me from freezing would be sweet as)
  • Sleeping pad (someone described the ones for hire at Unipol as rolled out rock, but not this one)
  • Stove
  • Knife 
  • Tent (I've been staying in huts, but camping in a tent would be cool)
  • Hiking pack (I've been borrowing Kate's, but my own would be sweeeeet!)
  • Hiking poles (wouldn't it be great if I didn't look like the Hunchback of Fiordland?! Hiking poles would help me with that!)

The list could go on and on, but I am knackered and need to sleep.  Unfortunately, my weekend wiped me out and I had to nap after my morning seminar today.  This (combined with getting ready for the trip and being away for the trip) lead to a serious lackage of doing research-related work.  This then lead to me flicking an email to my supervisor with the subject heading "Sara = Slacker" followed by an explanation of how my exhausting (but, fun!) weekend prevented me from getting down and dirty with our database.  He liked the alliteration and forgave me (just this once, but I think it's because I described my weekend as "awesome" and then continued with "You know what else is awesome? Statistics!").    Needless to say, I need to focus way more research and less on fun...for now.  

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