Standing in the shade of the beech trees my sweaty T- shirt is a jelly fish squashed to my back. Goose bumps prickle my freckly arms causing me to shiver.
‘Stop for long enough things have a habit of catching up with you.’ Continue reading “Twilight”
The melancholy sound of Xavier Rudd, the steam rising off takeaway coffee cups and the pale mist lifting from the valley combine to offer a hint of warmth against the frosty air as Dave and I descend to Scenic World. We thread through the groups of nervous runners and bags of gear searching for a quiet indoor posse. Amongst the bustle a lean guy with big brown eyes sits quietly, calmness radiates off him . I sit down opposite enquiring where he’s from. Continue reading “Follow the Sun: Ultra Trail Australia 2018”
A slick road, shaded slopes, a lack of snow, the conditions neither diluted my anticipation nor rang any warning bells. Tinkle, tinkle crunch, our boots smashed through the fragile façade of delicate leaf-like ice formations coating the upper slopes of Tahurangi. The southerlies had left their calling card. The fine rime needles weren’t here on my visit the previous fortnight. The beard hadn’t had sufficient exposure to wind and rain to reach full growth, allowing our crampons to shave it off step by step. Rime is an excellent micro forecast, patches of luxuriant growth indicating the most wind exposed aspects and spots of thin stubble the sheltered places. Continue reading “How my bum got iced”
It’s not yet light but the train we take from Chamonix to Saint Gervais is already half full. At Saint Gervais we follow pilgrims bristling with excitement and wearing numbered hire boots, small day packs festooned with ice tools and nervous smiles. Continue reading “Ebb and Flow”
Smudges of khaki rainforest clot the swirling mist as we surge upwards and circle to the north. I’m without headphones so the burly medic sitting beside me shouts over the chopper noise asking whether we prefer Murchison or Nelson. The closest hospital is at Westport but there is no way the pilot can fly through the thick wall of cloud. I exchange a raised eyebrow with Sarah seated opposite. “Nelson is fine” I respond and settle back for my longest chopper ride ever. Continue reading “Switchbacks”
“Anyone interested? Weather forecast is dry.”
I check the forecast. Clear skies and a freezing south-easterly, snow down to 1100m not too far above the top of the route, possibility of frost on the rock or verglas. Numb fingers, frozen toes, an ice cream headache, chattering teeth, shivering legs.
Continue reading “As You Wish”
Finally the yo-yo slapping world of lift and drop ceases. A lifetime encapsulated in fifteen bone jolting minutes. We cautiously crab our way forward off the lurching boat onto the slippery but stationary rocks. There is no time to adjust we’re straight into parting tree branches, untangling vine traps and edging round thick nests of ferns. I’m grateful for Pavlo. Not only has he driven us from Christchurch, he’s figured out how to get across the wind swept fiord and as the non-Kiwi he is, as far as the clouds of ravenous sand-flies are concerned, tasty. Continue reading “Getting a feel for the place”