Posts Tagged ‘Scrambles Amongst the Alps’

Inspirational People

20/06/2009

One Boy’s Passion for Wilderness Survival Skills

Marco & Jelena Wells

Marco & Jelena Wells

One never knows when an inspirational person will cross one’s path. Today, for me,  it came in the form of Marco Wells, all of 12 years, who visited us in Piha, with his sister Jelena, mother and father Tina and Steve and grandmother Helen from the former republic of Yugoslavia, (who recently attended our wedding a few weeks ago.) From the start, it’s a bit hard to determine who’s the biggest inspiration in this family, whether it’s Helen for starting her journey to New Zealand from eastern Europe years ago, or Marco’s dad who fosters his son’s love of the outdoors and wilderness survival. Then there’s his mother, who gets just as excited as her son, when we got the compass out and starting shooting bearings off the nearby peaks. It could also be his wonderful sister who’s eyes lit up during our day hike, when she looked over the edge of the windy cliff, which dropped a few hundred metres down to the Tasman sea. But this story leads me back to Marco.

A few weeks ago at our wedding, “Grandmother Helen” (we’ve also adopted her as our own), told us about her grandson who “is interested in the out-of-doors”.  Well, when I started talking to Marco today at our home, “interested” was an understatement. Marco is passionate about wilderness skills, wild edibles, feeling the wind, and even a bit of climbing and just being out there. He’s got it in his blood.

Today's Hiking Buddies

Today's Hiking Buddies

My wife and I later wondered aloud, after they had left back for the  Auckland area, what makes one boy passionate about the outdoors and the next, not. I was that boy which started with my romping and winter camping trips around the John F Gile Memorial Forest and Morgan Pond in New Hamsphire. Marco, his dad and I talked about “nature deficit disorder” and, stating the obvious, I mentioned the threat of video games, technology and kid’s lack of nature time.
(Image: L-R:Randy & Amanda Richards, Grandmother Helen, Marco, Yelena, Tina and Steven Wells)

Kare Kare Beach from our Hike Today

Kare Kare Beach from our Hike Today

Not Marco! He’s out back building different types of fires, constructing snares and assembling survival kits in a can. OK, I’m sure he puts his own time on the computer too, but he sure knows quite a few native plants and is working on lots of survival skills. On our walk today he was naming a number of plants and their their uses. He taught me a number of things today, but one stuck in my mind. When collecting and using silver ferns for a emergency shelter, be sure to turn the ferns belly up, otherwise, the tiny seeds, adhered to the bottom sides of the fern, will drop off on you during the night causing irritation and itching. He showed me the tiny seeds. Marco, just so you know, I’ll not forget that. (more…)

Summiting the Matterhorn

27/04/2009
Bob Boyce, Scot Bergeron: Matterhorn's Summit

Bob Boyce, Scot Bergeron: Matterhorn's Summit Image: R Richards

Three local guys from Sunapee, New Hampshire, USA summited the Matterhorn via the Hornli Ridge. Although it’s been a few years since the team summitted, a story that happened on the ascent bears worth mentioning here. It’s about boundaries, keeping your cool,  and international relations.

Scot Bergeron, Bob Boyce, and I decided to do the standard route from the Hornli Ridge Hut. Scot and I were playing music just over the hill in Saas Fee for the summer and took a few days off.  I’d done the Haute Route once with a group of Austrian young guns from Strolz Ski Boots in Lech, and another time with a couple of clients, but hadn’t done any climbs in the area, and thought the Matterhorn would be a good place to start.
We were the first out of the hut in the early darkness. We soon found ourselves overtaken by few of the local guides and their clients, not because of our slowness in climbing but the rather slow going in keeping on route which none of us had climbed before.  We’d see headlamps off to our south and figured they were a bit more on route than us, so we’d veer in their direction. As the sun was coming up we came to a roped section just  below the Solvay Hut at 4000 m.  I was belaying Scot, who was just about half-way up the pitch, when a Swiss mountain guide came up to our belay (more…)