Good intentions

I am such a marginal blogger.  Sorry folks.

Here’s the latest:

December:  Was busy.  I guided neighbour and good friend, Dallis Waters up Aoraki/Mt Cook on a brilliant December 23. Dallis’ husband Sean, my old climbing partner from SAR Aoraki in 1996 accompanied us and coached Dallis on the tricky bits.  Dallis was amazing.  She had the odd bout of nausea but forged on (Aoraki is just under 13k feet and everyone in NZ pretty much lives at sea level). We had a fivesome going as Paula Roberts guided her boss and kayaker (not to mention aerobic champion) extraordinaire, Dave Ritchie.  It was a hard, long and very funny day.  Jane Morris and Gary Dickson were both guiding on Aoraki the same day and it was terrific to be up on the top of NZ with so many lovely people.  Special mention to Jane Morris as she’d just got her IFMGA badge.  She is the 5th Kiwi woman to achieve this.  Oddly, I was the last 12 years ago – so it’s a big deal.  Jane is immensely strong and humble.  She often speaks and writes in verse and is an all round top lady.  Hooray!

On Christmas day we travelled to Auckland with our bags packed for the return to Utah. We had chrissy with the whanau (my dad’s).  We then spent a great week with my cousin Emma (of the telly as I call her as she’s a presenter for TVNZ).  We rented this awesome car/minivan with a tent that folded out on the roof of the car and drove to the Far North.  The pohutakawa were out in full force giving the full value Kiwi Christmas experience.  We also took a boat out to the Poor Knights Islands to go snorkelling.  The Poor Knights islands are about 10km off the Coast and are a marine reserve (meaning you can’t land). It wasn’t exactly tropical but the snorkelling was amazing and we experienced a sea cave with perfect acoustics.

On December 31 (what is with us and travelling on holidays?) we headed back to Utah.  I showed typical shocking planning and had to head to Canada on January 3 to begin work on an AMGA Ski Guide course at Sol Mountain in BC.  Despite the craziness of the schedule  and it being dark in Canada by 4.30pm, I LOVED this course and the great people.  I worked with the highly amusing and affable Jeff Ward from Leavenworth, Washington.  His humour and occasional irreverence (when appropriate) are a credit to American Mountain Guides!  Sol Mountain is a lodge located in the Southern Purcells and offers some great terrain – flats, steeps, tricky navigation drainages.  On our final three course days we skied at Revelstoke Mountain resort.  It has huge elevation and we spent a lot of time working on steep skiing and guiding at the edges of the boundaries.  I also caught up with my old Whistler room mate, Joe Lammers who is now a forecaster with the CAA.  Great times.

January-February:  By the time I got home to Salt Lake, Scott had gone to work for a National Geographic series about animals that have been brought back from the endangered brink (like sea otters and elephant seals).  I had 10 days off then I was back to another AMGA ski course – but this time in Salt Lake.  Salt Lake is suffering from a drought season.  Typical Utah though, we still had good skiing and plenty of learning and sunny weather with a bunch of top blokes training to be ski guides. I figure that, being local, I’ll be working this course again.  I look forward to it.

Finally I got to tour with my good friends and guests of Utah Mountain Adventures (UMA), the Baker-Steins.  They are a fun family of skiers from Pennsylvania.  We always enjoy some good skiing, conversation and a sit down lunch in the field.  It’s most civilized.  Thanks to all my time out with the AMGA course, I knew exactly where the best snow was!  It’s good to be back with UMA – my 15th year with the company owned by my good friends Julie Faure and Tyson Bradley.

Now we are enjoying spring weather, the odd powder day (three last week) and visits from Kiwi friends seeking the (elusive) powder of North America.  Scott is busy preparing for his 4th trip to Mt Everest in five years. To make up for all the time touring with guys on the AMGA courses, I’ve recently had some lovely tours with Laetitia (from Wanaka), Meghan, Nancy and Renae.  Sometimes even Scottie comes as a special treat.

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Sean and Dallis Summit of Aoraki -Tasman sea in the background

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With cuzzie Emma at the Poor Knights Islands

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The pohutakawa in flower, Taupo Bay

Jane Morris

IFMGA Jane Morris near the summit of Aoraki

Me and Jeff Ward

Me and Jeff Ward – Sol Mountain in the back

Meghan Budge AMGA course

UMA guide, Meghan Budge AMGA course

We fitted in a little desert climbing with the family during the winter!

We fitted in a little desert climbing with the family during the winter!

Oh and a little canyoneeirng with the indomitable Laetitia Campe!

Oh and a little canyoneering with the indomitable Laetitia Campe!

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Sean, Paula,Dallis, me and Dave pre-Xmas – East face of Aoraki behind

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Lunch in the Wasatch with the Baker-Steins. Always a highlight of my boreal winter!

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