Archive for the ‘Mountain People’ Category

A Restored Mountain Hut Getaway with Good Energy

11/01/2012

A New Zealand Farmer Does Good by Following His Passion

Tom O'Brien of High Country Walks

Tom O’Brien, owner of Blackmore Farm and founder of High Country Walks has followed his passion by offering up a little hut on the back side of his 5000 acre farm. Called the Chinaman’s Hut, it was restored some years ago, by local volunteers, Tom and his father. The hut is situated on the rolling mountains of the Slate Range,  just south of the Remarkables Mountains, on the border of Otago and Southland. Tom took the afternoon to show me his farm, the backcountry and the Chinaman’s Hut. below is a short piece on the hut, and a chat with Tom about his philosophy and passion of sharing this part of the world with others.We’re in hopes, here at Mountain Spirit Institute of collaborating with Tom by running some programs on the Slate Range and Blackmore Farm. We chatted about providing Solo’s and other types of programs.
Thanks for the time you took to show me around Tom!
Note: I’ve met one of the volunteers who helped restore the Chinaman’s Hut, a neighbor of ours here in Kingston named Dusty, who I’ll see if I can get on tape in the next few days. He has an interesting story to tell of not only this restoration project by many others.

Project Positive

06/01/2012

Graeme Dingle, New Zealand mountaineer does good

Graeme Dingle is fast becoming one of my role models, and I’ve never met the man. I intend to though. Maybe if I’m fortunate, we may collaborate on a co-venture project helping to connect people to the mountains, who knows. The more I learn about Mr. Dingle, the more I like and respect who he is, what he stands for, and what he’s accomplished in outdoor education.
Here’s an article from the Directions Magazine
By Laura Crooks

Inspiring New Zealand teenagers to reach their potential was a plan born during a trip to the Arctic by adventurer Graeme Dingle and partner Jo-anne
Wilkinson in the early ’90s.

Why did you think New Zealand needed a specific programme to help the country’s youth?
I set  up the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) in 1972 and I thought that was my  contribution to New Zealand in terms of young people. But it was really just the start, because I learnt so much about youth development through it and I got to thinking about the business of dealing with harder kids than those we met at OPC. I felt that for kids who had low confidence and low self-esteem, a one week experience in the wilderness wasn’t enough – it needed to be a continuum of things that really built on what had been learnt in that first period. I then set out to do the first continuous circumnavigation of the Arctic and in the Arctic you get a lot of very unusual communities – they’re very isolated and they live in such extraordinary circumstances where it’s light half the year, then continuously dark the other half of the year. They have very high rates of suicide, the kids don’t have too much to look forward to, and that started us thinking. But it didn’t really hit home until we got back to New Zealand – that here we lived in paradise and yet we had one of the highest rates of youth suicide, youth incarceration, dropouts from school unplanned teenage pregnancy – the works. The main catalyst was going to see Once Were Warriors – that was the thing that finally made us say: “Let’s do something about this”. So, Jo-anne and I invented Project K. basically. The Project K Trust grew into the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD) with nearly 20,000 young people in programmes each year. The FYD runs programmes for kids aged 5 – 18, and Project K is one of these. (more…)

Glacier Peak: Washington’s Remote Volcano

28/08/2011

Unfortunately, no bike trailer

By Kurt Hicks

Glacier Peak should be on every Cascade mountaineer’s tick list.  While folks averse to walking might complain about the long approach (about 15 miles each way), it is perhaps the most scenic and ecologically

One of Kurt's clients en route

diverse that I’ve ever done in the Cascades.  Our trip began with a seven mile bike ride up the closed USFS 49 road, since it was temporarily closed due to a miniscule washout.  The biking was quite reasonable and went quickly with mountain bikes and pull-behind trailers.  Read the rest of Kurt’s story…

Following Your Gut Feelings

10/08/2011

Mtn Guide & Writer, Ken Wyle

When the Mountain Bites Back, And What Are the Lessons To Be Learned
Mountain guide, writer and longtime friend from Outward Bound days, Ken Wyle is writing a book about his accounts the day he was caught in the La Traviata avalanche in Canada that killed seven people. I had heard through the grapevine that Ken had been caught in a big one, and I felt a wrench in my gut. Mountaineering accidents, in which friends are involved affect me more than most things in life. Alan Bard was one of my ski-guiding mentors, and he goes and dies on the Grand Teton. One’s teacher isn’t supposed to do that. There was a cloud over me for a time after I had heard the news, and I did’t feel comfortable on the rock for a time too. There have been other friends too that are no longer with us, and I ask myself the same questions that we all do about events like this, and the meaning of it all.

Reading a few of Ken’s Facebook posts and on his blog, give me the impression, he too has been asking some questions. And while the answers are secondary, the questions he’s asking have weight, at least from my humble perspective.  While compassion is one of outcomes of teaching an Outward Bound course, it looks like Ken is living it.
I caught up with Ken on Facebook last week, and he suggested I check out his blog The Energies of Adventure. Some glimpses of what will most likely be included his book can be seen on his blog.
Here’s the lead-in to his first post on that blog:

Seven Cairns
Chapter 1, “Lost in the Fog”

January 20th 2003, deep in the Selkirk mountains of Canada’s British Columbia. It is overcast and white out.  Snow flakes are lightly falling from the clouds.  The air is moving softly out of the southeast. Two groups of backcountry ski tourers collect at the frozen, snow covered, Tumbledown Lake for our first tea break of the day. My smaller group of read the rest of this story..

 

 

Chimu Inka’s New Band Member?

31/07/2011

Guillermo and Family

Guillermo Seminario, leader of the Peruvian band, Chimu Inka, with is wife Lourdes and their new son, born in Trujillo, Peru about 8 months ago. They just sent us this shot, which we wanted to share with you. Congrats to Familia Seminario. Chimu Inka has come to the U.S. under sponsorship from MSI in the past and will be visiting again in 2012.

A History of the Carabiner

02/07/2011

Linking History...

From: Alpinist
Working his bare-feet up the face, the climber takes a knotted sling from his shoulder and places it around a stone horn. He takes a second sling, deftly unknots it and feeds the cord carefully around his hempen lead rope and the slung rock. With the rope now connected to his natural protection he ties the second cord back into a sling and climbs on….

Before Otto “Rambo” Herzog first conceived using carabiners, climbers had only two options for connecting their ropes to protection: tie the rope and protection together, or untie and run the rope directly through the gear. Neither option was quick or especially safe.
In Alpinist 35 we examine the history of the carabiner; why Otto “Rambo” Herzog first thought of using the device, how it was modified over the last century and how the carabiner got its name.

Rambo Herzog

Rambo
Otto “Rambo” Herzog earned his nickname seventy years before the Sylvester Stallone movies. “Ramponieren” in German means “to batter” or “to bash,” and Herzog got his nickname, “Rambo,” not for flailing up climbs but for the hours he spent ramponieren specific problems. Today, Herzog is remembered for introducing the carabiner and breaking Hans Dülfer’s grading system. In 1913, he climbed the south wall of the Schüsselkarspitze (2537m) with Hans Fiechtl, a route that reached the limit of grade V (5.8/9), the highest grade in Dülfer’s I-V scale. In 1921, Herzog, together with Gustav Haber, climbed the “Ha-He Verschneidung” on the Dreizinkenspitze (2306m). Today rated 5.10, Herzog and Haber’s climb was so difficult that grade VI had to be added onto the I-V grading scale.

Today all climbing carabiners are made from solid metal. But in the 1970s SALEWA introduced a hollow design, that weighed only forty grams. This model was not only revolutionary because of its form but also because of the safety testing done on every unit. For the first time, each carabiner was individually tested before hitting the market. The slight indent on the curve of the pictured ‘biner, is the mark left by the 1000kg test. Many climbers will look at the empty interior and imagine that hollow carabiners were unsafe. However, in a recent interview with Alpinist, SALEWA’s former General Manager Hermann Huber said the hollow designs were abandoned because of breakthroughs in cold forging that allowed for lighter and stronger designs from solid aluminum.  Read the rest of this story…

The Christchurch Earthquake

26/02/2011

When the Earth Shakes, and We Humans on it.
Make a *donation directly to NZ Red Cross Christchurch Fund

Epicenter: Lyttelton from above our house, a day before the quake

Amanda and I escaped. We were in Christchurch about 19 hours before the earthquake hit, just in front of the main church , which is now collapsed,  in the square dropping off my passport and work visa application at New Zealand immigration, We also ran some errands, and split up in the afternoon, Amanda stopping by a store, and I picking up our van at the bus depot.

When the earthquake did hit we were both at home. I was in the hallway, and all of sudden, I was being thrown about. I was disoriented for a few seconds, then ran down the hallway to grab my pregnant wife’s hand. She looked as confused as I, as we ran for the door. We had just experienced the earthquake 1km from the epicenter. Our rental home is just across the Lyttelton Inlet in Diamond Harbor’s Charteris Bay.  As I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we ran out of the back door of  the steel-framed house, I thought, “This isn’t good for Christchurch.”

Little did I know how bad it was.  Just over the crest of Port Hills, 20 min away, it was Hell. (more…)

This Way of Life.. An Inspiring Film

09/02/2011

Don't Miss This Dose of Inspiration

The film This way of  Life is as inspiring as it gets. Filmed in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand’s North Island, this documentary is about a Maori family: a good and strong man and his wife who bring up their kids in the out-of-doors, raising wild horses. Peter, the father, is someone this writer admires for his steadfast adherance to what is right action in the midst of some people around him who act very badly.  We happened to pick up the movie at the library the other day, and were wowed by it.
A lot of what we strive for here at Mountain Spirit Institute is encapsulated in the documentary, and how this family lives their lives. No nature deficit disorder here. But the hardships, and even the new house where the kids get their own rooms, don’t sugarcoat the difficulties faced by the family.  We are about to bring a child into this world, and this film has added fuel to our fire to continue to head for the mountains. A cure for affluenza, for sure.

Director: Thomas Burstyn
New Zealand, 2010, 84 min.
Against the stunning beauty of New Zealand’s rugged Ruahine Mountains, Peter Karena and his wife Colleen instill in their children the values of independence, courage, and happiness. The family is poor in possessions but rich with a physicality and freedom within nature that most of us can only dream of. The children ride bareback, hunt, and play in the wild. Shot over four years, this film is an intimate portrait of a Maori family and their relationship with nature, adversity, horses, and society at large. Special mention at Berlin International Film Festival, 2010 Hotdocs, New Zealand’s Oscar shortlist.

You can learn a bit more about the family and the film on their Facebook page.
See the Movie Trailer

Glacier Melting & Time-Lapse Photography

27/09/2010

“More ice is released into the global ocean, from this glacier*, than from any other glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. If sea level rises, this is where it all begins. This is it, ground zero.”

EIS's James Balog

From: NPR’s Living on Earth
A photographer was one of this year’s Heinz environmental award winners. James Balog’s project — the Extreme Ice Survey — documents the rapid melting of glacial ice through time-lapse photographs from cameras in some of the world’s most remote areas. Host Bruce Gellerman talks with James Balog about the Extreme Ice Survey.

GELLERMAN: Winners of the prestigious Heinz environmental award have just been announced. This year the Heinz Foundation is honoring a wide variety of environmental innovators including a distinguished academic for his work in sustainable transportation, a pioneer in green chemistry, and a scientist who studies the suspected endocrine disrupting chemical BPA.

Awards and checks for a hundred thousand dollars will also be going to several winners who focus on climate change, among them James Balog. He’s director of Earthvision Trust and a one-time climate change skeptic. James Balog joins us from Boulder Colorado. Welcome to LOE…and congratulations.
BALOG: Well, thank you so much. It’s a wonderful week, and a wonderful honor and a privilege. I feel very blessed.

GELLERMAN: A climate change skeptic winning one of the premier environmental awards. Now, that’s an achievement.

Greenland ice sheet melting fast

BALOG: Well, I’m not a skeptic, and I haven’t been in a long time. Twenty years ago, I thought this whole science was based on computer modeling, and I’m a bit of a technological Luddite, and I thought that if it was all based on computer modeling, there could be something wrong with it. But then I took the time to learn about the evidence that was in the ice cores, and then I got out into the field and looked at what was happening to the glaciers, and I realized that this was not about models and projections and statistics. This was incredible concrete and real and immediate and happening really quickly.

GELLERMAN: In a sense, seeing is believing.

BALOG: Yeah, absolutely. As a photographer, my whole career and as a once-upon-a-time experiential educator for Outward Bound School, and as a mountaineer for forty years, I am quite keyed in to the feeling of experience. You know, seeing things, feeling things, touching things. Letting the vibrate in your chest, well when you are standing at the side of these glaciers and you’re watching huge masses of ice go away, you really get it.
Read the rest of this interview….

The Invitation

27/06/2010

I have read this to many a program participant around camp in the mountains, and thought I’d share it here.

Hitchhiking in Labrador

The Invitation, By Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive. (more…)