Outdoor Skills

Backcountry Touring Access Guidelines

Safety  Backcountry Touring Access Guidelines

In an attempt to alleviate friction between members of the backcountry touring community and ski area operators, FMC created a set of backcountry touring access guidelines. With the support of NZAC and after consultation from 23 ski areas in Aotearoa, these collaborative guidelines articulate the following: how to behave when accessing backcountry terrain using ski field infrastructure, an intention to promote understanding of the real hazards present on ski areas and a fostering of courtesy and respect between tourers (including climbers and trampers) and ski area operators.

The Indestructible Loopies

November 2023  The Indestructible Loopies

Are loopies, by definition, indestructible and how do we create a model to better understand risk in the outdoors? Uncle Jacko poses the argument that while there are exceptions to the rule, ill-equipped trampers often seem to survive and explains the idea behind the Heine–McFarlane–McNeill risksetting model that he helped to design.

What’s in a Word? Exploring Untracked Leatherwood in the Tararua Forest Park

Fact or Fable  What’s in a Word? Exploring Untracked Leatherwood in the Tararua Forest Park

Four hours to cover one kilometre . . . ? For Megan and a hardy group from the Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club (WTMC), an escape route provided by the '1996 Tararua Footprints Guide' offered refuge away from strong winds. However, an equally challenging battle ensued between tramper, scrub and river as the group navigated untracked leatherwood in the Tararua Forest Park.

Catastrophe on Cascade Saddle

Winter Tramping  Catastrophe on Cascade Saddle

Completion of the Great Walks may lead less experienced trampers into a false sense of security, resulting in some attempting backcountry tracks beyond their skill sets. After finishing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Abel Tasman Coastal Track, a young tourist sets off on the Cascade Saddle in Mt Aspiring National Park. Under snow cover, Cascade Saddle is a serious alpine crossing that requires outdoor competence and proper equipment. Johnny Mulheron discusses the tragic details behind this solo tramper's fatal fall in winter conditions and what lessons we can take away.

Accessible to All

Youth Tramping  Accessible to All

“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.

The Busy Lizard

Mt Taranaki  The Busy Lizard

'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.

The Kayak Kapers

Youth Award Grant  The Kayak Kapers

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.

Leading Alpine Trips

Winter Tips  Leading Alpine Trips

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.

Tackling the Tongariro

Youth Award Grant  Tackling the Tongariro

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.

Peak Safety Course

Training Grant  Peak Safety Course

"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 Preventable Tragedy in the Young Valley

Fatality  A Preventable Tragedy in the Young Valley

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.

Joy Amidst Suffering

Mountain Adventure  Joy Amidst Suffering

“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.

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