Archive for the ‘Sustainable Travel’ Category

Don’t Buy It

17/06/2011

Selling Success Thru Consuming

A recent full page ad on the inside front cover of New Zealand Alpine Club‘s The Climber* Magazine shows a truly burly shot of climber Alex Honnold in Borneo, doing a dyno move on what looks like a long potential fall on a big wall. Granted the sequence is impressive, (let’s be clear, I can’t do that), but the ad states, “ALEX IS DRY, His Meru Goretex Paclite Jacket allows him to focus on the next move.”

OK, ok, stop the music. Does this make we want to rush right out and buy a Meru Paclite Jacket? Not. But if  the Meru Paclite jacket allows him to focus on that dyno, maybe it will allow ME to focus on my next move too, just like the ad in the picture.  My criticism is albeit a cliche, nevertheless, I don’t buy it.

Kiwis are known for being a self-depreciating, humble bunch. They seem to buy used whenever possible, plus it blends into the backcountry better. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t go climbing with someone who has new gear?”  This doesn’t mean to avoid climbing and teaching new to the sport, but more it means watching out for a poser.

The Kiwi quietude is making me, in my conditioned Americanism,  feel downright goofy. I feel I may be tooting my own horn without even knowing . Mind you, I consider myself on the humble side, but New Zealanders make me look like Donald Trump.   I wonder however, how many climbers reading that magazine are taken by the ad. I would suspect a few more of my fellow Yankees stateside might be taken in. What do you think? Comment below.

Don’t buy it – buy used. Even though I’m able to buy on pro-purchase programs, I just bought a pair of Karhu BC skis on Craigslist, and it feels good. Did I even need them in the first place, yes. Maybe a step further, and a pair from the Salvation Army here in Queenstown for $40 would have sufficed. We can always improve.

Buying this Book? Share it.

Nope, I wouldn’t buy a used rope, or even cams,  but buying  most other stuff used just helps the planet, and you look better in a used jacket anyway. It’s another dirtbag move for the planet. Madison Avenue and the big corps who now own The North Face, (and now Karhu) don’t like guys like us. We’re terrible consumers – Have you joined the crowd?

According to a new book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, What’s Mine is Yours, The rise of Collaborative Consumption, the trend is huge – to buy less, buy used and share. I’ll write more about this book after I finish it. So far it’s fascinating.

*This is no way meant to be a slam on The Climber advertising policies, in fact the author encourages readers to support the magazine by supporting its advertisers, appropriately. A tricky one, eh?

By the way, nice move Alex.

Elitism in the Mountains

27/05/2011

By R. Richards

The "Lodge" at Routeburn!

Fellow MSI board member Bob Stremba and I recently decided to spend a  couple of days on New Zealand’s Routeburn walk, one of the famous tracks in the Southern Alps. We did it last week, during the shoulder season so there were only a handful of people on the trail. But I can imagine the numbers grow exorbitantly during the summer months. Fair enough, that’s how New Zealand has decided to funnel foreign hikers, and showcase tourism into a few of the well-known tramps. Milford Sound not far away is another.

Hi There!

All went well, aside from a bit of rain. We met some nice hikers, one from Ireland, Australia, Switzerland and four from Canada. We stayed at the small Routeburn Flats hut, and the next day proceeded to the Routeburn Falls hut for a quick lunch break . That’s when something seemed out of place. First, the size of the Department of Conservation (DOC) hut was quite impressive, equipped to handle large amounts of hikers. I then noticed above me, and pondered what in the world, could the huge building possibly be that stood above the DOC hut? Since it was the off season, this larger upper building was closed, bit we could peek in the windows . As I approached,  a big wooden sign in front of the building called out  the “Routeburn Falls Lodge”.  I saw a smaller sign behind it, mounted on the wall stating: “Strictly Guided Walkers Only” adding “Independent walkers please continue on to the DOC Hut.”

Private Rooms for the Gentry

The irony of first class and coach system arriving in the mountains struck me immediately with the thought that there should be a sign on the DOC hut stating, “Strictly Independent Walkers, Guided hikers should continue on to the nearest Hilton”. Of  course I don’t really feel that way, but it was the first thing that came to mind. Better yet, maybe the cognoscenti should overthrow the highfalutin hut and invite the coach class to join them, (and possibly even have a food fight).

The only site I can remotely remember seeing like this was in the Alps. Of course high living gentiles are still staying in the hotels just below the faces of the Matterhorn and Eiger. The only class arrangement I can remember seeing was in the Alpine Club huts of the Alps where the mountain quide’s quarters, were separated from us chattel climbers. But this, here in New Zealand was a whole other matter. I’m sure Oliver James, author of Affluenza would be proud of most Kiwis who shun this sort of thing in their mountains. I then found my tolerance level further tested with another sign telling “independent hikers” to a) turn around, b)  march their little butts down to where they belong  c) and stay there, all with the Orwellian salutation of “Hi There!”  See the actual text in the image above.

Bob Stremba, overlooking the Backcountry (?)

I hope that “haute couture” in the backcountry stops with this hut. I’m assuming there may be others though.  Even  though this super-duper hut sits in the heart of the Routeburn,  in the real backcountry, we’re still all the same. The problem is, having such a lodge like this goes a long way in destroying the very experience the concession is trying to offer. By its very nature, it removes itself from the backcountry. It brings the virulent virus – the epidemic of affluenza to the doorstep of paradise.  Tell us what you think about allowing such multiple uses on government land such as  luxury lodges (such as this one  run by Ultimate Hikes) Is it a bad idea? Are we missing something about the land use plans of NZ?

If you’re thinking of taking a  guided hike, suggest to your guide that he put you up with the rest of us. You’ll find it much more inspiring. Also suggest that they could change their signs to a less snooty sort.

Grand Canyon Quiet, It’s About Time.

07/02/2011

Park Service Seeks Quiet in the Grand Canyon
New York Times
By  Marc Lacey
TUCSON — That the Grand Canyon is a visual spectacle is without question. But the constant droning of tourist aircraft overhead, which has worsened considerably over the years, has prompted the National Park Service to propose measures to make one of America’s premier natural areas much easier on the ears. Read the rest of this story.

By R. Richards
Sir Thomas Gresham’s (Financial agent for Queen Elizabeth) Law of Economics states that “bad”,  more powerful money always overtakes more benign forms of currency unless properly regulated. Ingram’s law, which has carried this into the recreation field, states that more powerful forms of recreation will always overtake more benign, if not regulated. Kudos for the Park Service’s acting Grand Canyon Superintendent, Palma Wilson, who comes out in favor of some peace and quiet in the canyon. Here’s some footage we shot in July of 2010 on the North Rim, complete with a non-stop parade of helicopters.


Teaching Creativity Through the Arts

27/12/2010

Master Instructor Teaches More Than Drumming
By R. Richards
Drumming Instructor Bob Bloom teaches a lot more than drumming.  Bloom, who will be teaching Mountain Spirit Institute’s Drumming Jamaica program on February 7-11 at Treasure Beach,  has  been a regular keynote instructor on classes in creativity at Southern Connecticut State University. The semester course is instructed by the dynamic leadership of Phyllis Gelineau, PhD.  The class consists of students from various disciplines in the university system. The premise of the class, says Bloom,  “How are you going to take what you do, or what you teach, and get creative about it?”
Bob was certified in 1997 as a Master Teaching Artist by the state of Connecticut. “A Teaching Artist” says Bloom, “uses an art form to teach and illustrate something else, such as engineering, or marketing for example.

“We teach students how to apply creativity in their work, for example using a circus act to teach mathematics.” Bloom adds,  “I’ve used drumming to illustrate the democratic method on how to vote…this movement is huge, it’s burgeoning in the field of education.

Bloom is on a mission –  teaching others how to be teaching artists.  He has a marketing background, so he’s also teaching educators and administrators how to get the word out about artistic education.

The video clip was shot after Bob had been teaching a group of students for a three hour creativity through drumming class the university.

Bob Bloom Leads MSI’s Drumming Jamaica

19/12/2010

Mountain Spirit Institute teams up with Master Teaching Artist Bob Bloom
By Cindy Heath

Bob Bloom, of Storrs, CT will lead our Drumming Jamaica workshop February 7-11, 2011 at the Calabash House in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.

I first met Bob Bloom in the late 90’s, when I was searching for musicians to fill the program for a children’s entertainment series in Lebanon, NH.  Bob was on stage at a performing artists showcase, and I was immediately drawn to his energy and of course, his skillful drumming. I hired Bob on the spot, and he returned to our stage every summer thereafter, bringing drums for all to play.

Bob Bloom Leads Drumming Jamaica

Bob has been a busy guy, building a highly popular and successful interactive drumming and education program.  Here’s a snapshot of his accomplishments:

*Bob’s certification as a ‘Master Teaching Artist’ was awarded by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts in 1997.

*For over a decade, Bob served as a faculty assistant to Dr. Babatunde Olatunji for his “Language of the Drums” courses, and he performed as a member of Drums of Passion, Dr. Olatunji’s internationally acclaimed drumming and dance company.

*Bob served from 2007 to 2010 as chair of the Interactive Drumming Committee of The Percussive Arts Society, the largest percussion organization in the world.

I bought my first conga drum right around the time I met Bob, and started taking lessons at Dartmouth College – what a thrill!  There’s nothing like playing the rhythms with a group – I learned to play conga, bongo, clave and eventually steel drums – all without knowing how to read music. Turns out we feel rhythms at a cellular level, and drumming has all kinds of health benefits, including a positive effect on our immune system.

A highlight of my relationship with Bob was when he gave me one of his drums – a beautiful djembe. This is the one I’ll bring to Treasure Beach,

Calabash House, Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Jamaica for the Drumming Jamaica workshop Bob is teaching – perhaps I’ll learn some new rhythms, and come back from Jamaica a bit healthier and wiser.

As African music educator Olatunji said, “Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm.”

If you would like to join MSI in Jamaica, please check out the MSI website or call 603-763-2668

MSI Gears up with Programs

17/11/2010

Mountain Spirit is advertising in Wisdom Magazine, and Spirit of Change aiming at people who might be at a crossroads in their life, or simply wanting to try a new challenge, or learn something new.

A non-profit educational organization

Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle program will be held in Northern Vermont next spring at a peaceful retreat center, focusing on the personal – sustainability and health. Learn how to plant a garden, the basics of yoga and meditation and of course time for relaxation in a beautiful place.

Drumming Jamaica program taught by well-known instructor Bob Bloom will be held in Treasure Beach Jamaica from Feb. 7-11. There will be about 20 hrs of instruction with plenty of time to explore the beaches and local culture. Lodging will be at the Calabash House.

New Zealand: Our other base. We will be based on the South Island near the Southern Alps. Aimed at active travelers but with flexible offerings, depending upon your interest and focus. Options are trekking, glacier travel, rock climbing, or simply walks and getting into the lessor known areas of the Wanaka and Queenstown area, with options of other parts of South Island depending  upon your availability, interest and energy. Be ready to step out and see something new.

For more info, see our website: www.mtnspirit.org

Jamaica Drumming Feb. 7th-11th, 2011

12/11/2010

Mountain Spirit will be hosting a beginning drumming program in Jamaica at Treasure Beach  from February 7th-11th at the Calabash Lodge. The program will be taught by well-known drummer & teacher Bob Bloom.

Learn Drumming, in Jamaica

Says Bloom,” This program is based in an oral tradition method of teaching music. this workshop conveys basic skills to play hand drums from the cone family: djembe, ashiko,and conga. You’ll take home ways to create rhythms that you can enjoy playing to the catchy beats of rock & roll, funk, boogie, swing, African, and folk songs.”

Bloom’s certification as a Master Teaching Artist was awarded by The Connecticut Commission on the Arts in 1997. He is chair of the Interactive Drumming Committee of
The Percussive Arts Society, the largest percussion organization in the world. For over a decade, Bob performed as a member of Dr. Babatunde Olatunji’s troupe
“Drums of Passion”, and as a faculty assistant to Olatunji for his “Language of the Drums” courses at The Omega Institute.

Mountain Spirit Institute board member Cindy Heath and author Henry Homeyer will host/facilitate the program. Participants will stay at the Calabash House Lodge and the group size will be kept small.
MSI is also practicing sustainable and responsible tourism by offering discounts for local residents of Jamaica who would like to attend the program. Also a portion of the program tuition will go to local schools in Jamaica to benefit the students there.If you are interested in joining us, please visit our website and contact us for more information at info@mtnspirit.org or 603-763-2668.

Everest Basecamp Clean-up Successful

24/06/2010

Cleaning Up After Climbers

The Swiss family Schwörer and their companions on the TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition have successfully completed their project to clean up Everest Base Camp. Unfortunately, expedition leader Dario Schwörer didn’t manage to reach the summit of the “Roof of the World”.

As already reported, for the last seven years the Mammut-sponsored TOPtoTOP expedition has been traveling all over the world, from Switzerland to Everest Base Camp, freeing our environment from discarded rubbish. The family used carbon-neutral forms of transport, such as walking, cycling or sailing, to reach their destination. Read the rest of this article at Mammut.ch

Insightful Blog from Peru

12/06/2010

Image: by Lawrence Kovacs

Observations, anecdotes, and ruminations from our family’s year of travel in Peru and Bolivia.
Lawrence Kovacs, is author of the blog FromPeruToYou.  We worked at Pacific Crest Outward Bound in the North Cascades leading mountaineering trips. Since then he has become a father, a teacher, and from a  look at his blog, a gifted photographer and writer.
Check out it out. You won’t be disappointed.  Images from a unique angle, some of which show Lawrence’s sharp sense of humor, and stories of living in Cusco, show a man making the most of life as it comes his way. His attitude and gusto for life not only benefits his family, but the rest of us as well.  As I wrote to him in a recent message, “After having lived off and on, and guided in Peru for over ten years, I got more insight into the country by reading your blog than I normally do in my travels there.” Thanks Lawrence. Keep up the good work and see you stateside sometime soon.

Ausangate Traditions and Weavings

07/06/2010

Weavers: Willoc, Peru

Dr. Andrea Heckman an expert on Quechua weavings, will show a documentary film at the South American Explorers Club in Cusco, Peru on Thursday June 10th at 7 p.m.  The film tells the story of Quechua villagers near the sacred peak of Ausangate.

Set against a backdrop of high Andean lakes and mountains, it shows a harsh existence but also a deep interconnectedness with the natural forces and their ritual relationships to the mountain, revealed in various festivals, weaving and other traditions.

If you’re in Cusco, and want see the film, contact the SAE in Cusco.