“For a group of neuro-diverse students, the biggest challenge can be getting the opportunity to take part in outdoor adventures.” After five years in the making, nine neuro-diverse students from Wellington East Girls’ College head off for their biggest adventure yet – a six-day ski and snowshoeing trip to the Cardrona Valley. Unit Leader, Leonie King, shines light on the students’ barriers to entry and the preparation required to complete their Gold DOE's Hillary Award.
'Though plenty of inexperienced day walkers happily climb Taranaki, the mountain is still one of the most deadly in New Zealand. For many, the northern summer route is their surest way to safely experience climbing Taranaki.' Seasoned mountaineer, Peter Laurenson, provides foundational advice for minimising trouble and maximising fun on Mt Taranaki this summer.
“What may seem to be a safe situation is only one mis-step away from catastrophe.” In an alpine environment, even one small error can lead to a life or death situation. A false sense of security coupled with an unfortunate event results in a tragic outcome for one mountaineer on Mount Ruapehu.
For their Duke of Edinburgh Silver Qualifying Journey, Emiliana and her team opt for an alternative mode of backcountry travel – kayaking. Dubbed the Kayak Kapers, this team of twenty-four students (over half of whom had never kayaked) bravely took up their paddles and developed new skills during a multi-day exploration of the Marlborough Sounds.
“By the end of the weekend, we were like a well-oiled machine.” As recipients of the 2022 FMC Training Grant, members of the Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club shift from uncertainty to competency during their wilderness first aid weekend training.
What makes a suitable alpine leader and how do you identify these people in your club? New Zealand clubs have a proud tradition of passing on knowledge to newer members who later themselves become leaders. FMC provides a guide to identifying and supporting not only current alpine leaders, but a framework to raise up the next generation.
Over the April school holidays, six students set off to complete their Silver Duke of Edinburgh Qualifying Adventurous Journey in Tongariro National Park. Demonstrating excellent planning for their tramp, the group successfully navigates all the challenges thrown their way and completes a trip of a lifetime.
"All too often we can apply the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to exploring the outdoors, but in an emergency, that is of little help." After assessing their outdated first aid skills, the Otago Section of the New Zealand Alpine Club puts their FMC Training Grant to good use – an intensive first aid course where they learn everything from CPR to managing real-life scenarios with hands-on practice.
A cascade of poor decisions – lack of experience, a hyperfocus on reaching their destination despite horrendous conditions and the separation of party members – results in the preventable loss of a young woman left behind on the Gillespie Pass. Examining the events leading up to this tragedy, Johnny Mulheron and Erik Bradshaw offer sound advice for trampers heading off the beaten path of the Great Walks.
"Journey – a long and often difficult process of personal change and development." For these four FMC Youth Award Grant recipients, they draw upon their strengths and honestly address their shortcomings to come together as a team to support one another, as well as look after fellow trampers on the Tongariro Crossing Northern Circuit.
“Was it fun?” After a six-day non-stop adventure race through the mountains around Mt Aspiring, Alastair McDowell ponders this question and asks himself, "Why do we do this to ourselves?" He shares a thought-provoking exploration into what calls mountaineers into the wild, what the experience is truly like, and how brushes with fatality are an ever present reminder of mortality.
Examining their Gold qualifying tramp through the lens of Te Whare Tapa Whā (the four dimensions of wellbeing), Alicia and Sophie reflect on the significant challenges they faced on the Rees-Dart Track and what strategies helped encourage them to continue.
Would you be prepared to make the same decision if you were alone? The impact of group dynamics, including polarisation and ‘risk-shift,’ can lead to life-threatening circumstances in the backcountry. Nick Plimmer examines a real-life situation where a party of four trudges on despite poor conditions, resulting in a 100 vertical metres fall into the plunge pool of a waterfall and an extremely close call.
How does the Dunning-Kruger effect impact the way we estimate our competency in the outdoors? Uncle Jacko delves into how this effect has both a negative and positive influence on our backcountry experience. He also discusses navigation and communication in the backcountry – S122, ham radio gear and SOTA, for those amateur radio operators who love the outdoors.
Uncle Jacko takes a deep dive into the past exploring what we learnt from the COVID-19 lockdowns and raising the question, "What do tourists really appreciate about New Zealand?" And as many trampers are well aware, the question of how much to pack is the perpetual challenge. Uncle Jacko tests out the idea of ‘going lightweight’ and discovers firsthand when lightweight crosses over into just not enough.
One of New Zealand's finest mountaineers of the modern age passes away in a fall during a descent towards Homer Saddle. In an examination into these tragic events, Johnny Mulheron and Nick Plimmer examine the safety measures taken and the coroner's recommendations, including a rare quote that he includes in his final report.
Inspired by the ‘Rounds’ in the UK, British native and New Zealand ultra-runner Martin Lukes designs the first ever New Zealand ‘Round’ – a classic long-distance mountain challenge taking in all of the summits of a local area in an aesthetic loop. After spending a summer bagging peaks in the Southern Lakes, Alastair McDowell tackles Canterbury’s answer to the famous mountain challenges of Britain: the Craigieburn Round.
After a close call occurs during a club outing, the North Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club (NOTMC) recognises the need to offer winter skills training for its newer members. With support from a FMC Training Grant, they organise a backcountry training weekend with a well-respected mountaineering and ski touring guide.
While competing in her first ever GODZONE race, Crystal Brindle asks herself, “How much is too much?” Pushing further past her comfort zone than ever before, she reflects on the different ways we experience connection in the natural world during adventure racing and what makes these endeavors not only possible, but worthwhile.
What does it mean to be a West Coast adventurer? For Rata Lovell Smith, a Wahine Toa who runs the Tai Poutini Polytechnic Outdoor Education Program, the West Coast adventurer is as unique and powerful as the landscape itself. In this river spotlight, she highlights Falls Creek – a West Coast kayaker's dream and 'a sacred chasm of water and rock.'