The Squeeze.. Satan’s smokestack

“Do i need this?” .. “Yeah, Yeah! Take that!”

“what about this?”… “take it all!”

I stepped up to the start of the finest crack at frogs buttress with not much more than a few nuts and hexes and 2 frog onsites under my belt. It was a grade 16 off width chimney with a quirky scramble to the finish. I had been told the start was the hardest section but I wasn’t prepared for what was in store.. 😈👿 

Not knowing what to bring the trusty Nathan advised that I bring all of Andrew and Chris trad  racks on his $3 shearers gear sling to hold the somewhat 7kg (3+ trad racks ) up the 40m climb.. I had about 75 peices of pro to place. I thought this was normal so decided to start climbing (oops I forgot my shoes). 

I placed 2 slings on some boulders at the base of the climb (one of them moved) and the 0.2 kong cam behind the chock.. I was just beginning to think it was easy, then the squeezes began! It took 2 bruised knees and 2 scraped elbows, 2 sweaty hands and a lot of grunting to wiggle my way through that jam.. once through the jam.. my life changed. I zippered that crack up with everything I could and made it to the top in time for sunset! 

What a great adventure.. such a wonderful day 🙂 

The shark and the mountain goat in Claustral Canyon

You know that feeling you get when your going to do something big and your not quite 100% if you are going to pull it off or not? That is usually the feeling i get every day i go out my door.. but this day in particular wasn’t any easier.

I was in blackheath in the comfort of a toasty warm bed and needed to get up to submerge myself in icy cold water.. (you get why I was getting that feeling now :P). Claustral canyon was my very first canyon and it set quite a high standard for me in terms of canyoning, however when i went down the canyon I wasn’t thinking about navigating or remembering any details to make sure i can get out when i try to do it again. HECK, i didn’t think i was ever going to lead expeditions down any canyon let alone take somebody through claustral again.

Today I was taking Faz (Charlies angels) through the canyon.. with our adventure hats on!

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Shark and the mountain goat

It was instant relif in my mind that there were 2 huge groups of canyioners also going down the canyon.. to be honest i thought that the canyoning season was over (and faz hates the cold.. she had to walk in with ALL he wetsuits and shark skins on.. and it was 20 degrees out!)

We walked in for about 30 minutes and then begun the climbing to get to the first set of… slings that we rap off. Ninja Faz followed my lead – not many people abseil from the paint that we did as there is a little bit of a sketch ball scramble to get to the location.

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Ninja Faz

Once Faz was down, i gave her a lecture on how to not loose her ATC (belay device) as this is critical in a canyon.. i also noticed the water was higher than last time so it was even more critical. I encourage faz to go first so she got the “discovering” feeling. As it was my turn to go I stated to put my prusick on and my… OH *#!”??!@ I dropped my ATC. Lucky i knew how to do the munter hitch and abseiled on it… first disaster averted.

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Claustral Canyon

We wnet though the three epic abseils and swam out to the stunning crevice that is on the other side of the canyon. I took Faz to a secret spot deep in the canyon off a side tributary where we got to do some caving and found some natural wonderlands.We did more scrambling than is possible, and eventually we got to the water fall of death. No this isn’t a 100m waterfall, it was a mere 1 meter drop into a big water pool. This was the waterfall that scared Faz the most. There was a large undercut on the waterfall that made it difficult to keep your face out of water. She managed to pull herself together and get through it.

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All day i was looking out for the exit (after a rather large swim) as the track notes mentioned alot of parties get benighted within the canyon… I didn’t want to sleep in a canyon for a second night in my lifetime so i kept a really good look out! Once we found it, we started to egress.. a small storm cell looked like it was forming and it was already 4pm.. so not much time left.

The scramble out was epic.. a slimy slab (and im not a slab fan on the best of days).. ok great, i have to hoist myself up, hope i don’t die and belay Faz up.. this wasn’t part of the experience 😛

Faz after the haul/scamble

At 5pm the sky was black from the clouds and it started to pour rain and shoot lightning bolts from the sky. There was another really boulderey move about half way along the egress. We decided to rope up and get us up the slippery zone as quickly as possible.

After 2 hours we made it back to the old exit and managed to hitch a ride with a really nice Pakistan guy, who came from the same town that Faz lived in. Once back to the heater, life was great again.  It’s still my favorite canyon ❤

24hrs of hell.

Sometimes you get to a point where you think you can’t do anything more crazy and strenuous. Then Jacinda comes along and makes you do something beyond crazy..

I did a 24hr adventure race with an absolute stranger. We went to the race thinking we were doing 6hrs, and spontaneously decided to ask at the check in if it was possible to get into the 24 hr race.. they said to start planning our route and they will let us know in an hour. Fortunately (unfortunately) they said we were in! One team was sick and couldn’t race that day so we took their spot! It was a kayaking, hiking and biking race. My partner didnt know how to navigate. I love hiking and being competitive, he hates hiking and hates being competitive.. you see where i’m going with this 😛

In terms of tiredness.. there was a few times i micro napped while riding my bike into Esk and while navigating through the huge forest. Other than that I felt very comfortable completing the 24hr race.. we were still in high energy levels when finishing the race. Next time i will try to push myself harder.

Was a great adventure.

A big day out on my own.. Pipeline Canyon, Wolgan River

I was determined to spend one full day on my own. The trouble is, I am slightly crazy and like to push the limits somewhat..

So I chose to spend one full day discovering the Starlight Canyon in the Newnes NP! This is meant to be a dry canyon in the Newnes area where you are able to abseil into a walk-able cave and see the glowworms glittering around you.. it then is supposed to be an easy walk out to the Wolgan river and return to the carpark.

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So I set off at 7:00am in the morning, I felt a little strange as I had never done something this crazy before on my own. I walked from the campground (where I stayed the night before) and joined onto the pipeline track. The track notes said to walk to the top of the hill and get to the Starlight Canyon sign.. so everything was super easy up until now.

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Post the post.. (:P) things got tricky. From the map it should have been easy to go in the NE direction and cut N then E to get to the head of the canyon and begin the abseils. Unfortunately.. life isn’t always that easy. I ended up doing 1 hr of serious bush-bashing. At the point when I was about to give up, I stumbled upon a canyon, thinking that I finally had reached it I found a spot where I could just scramble down and started walking in the only direction I could.

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I am a bit of a safety queen.. I don’t really enjoy knowing that I don’t have the skills to handle a situation but I felt 100% in control the entire time that I was walking. When i finally stumble upon the first abseil I felt that the anchor was a bit sketch balls.. especially as there was a tonne of debris around the anchors (obviously from the recent flood that had passed through – i must have been the first one down). When I saw the first abseil, alarm bells also started ringing that this wasn’t the adventure I had woken up to do.. I was in completely different canyon! But which one?!?.. and how did I navigate to another one when I had gotten to the starlight canyon sign.. OMG Jacinda. So I thought “here goes nothing” and I rapped down.. as I knew all canyons in the area are dry and the abseils are relatively small.

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I went through a series of abseils and scrambles and finally got to the end. I still had no idea where I was.. but lucky I had Andrews handy dandy guide and decided.. based on what looked like the exit route.. that I was in the Pipeline canyon (one tributary west of the starlight canyon tributary).  The exit was relatively straight forward and easy to join back up to the graded trail.

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I had the best day of my life! I was able to navigate (although not entirely correctly), plan, reassess and spend time to myself doing the things I love. I found that I was able to know what my limit is and adequately planned to ensure that I could be safe all day. I had adequate measures in place to ensure I could turn back all the way up until the first abseil. I learnt a lot about myself this day. What a great, and joyful day 🙂

 

Mt Aspiring – NW ridge, base to summit through Bevan col.

She stood there in the sun light dazzling, glistening and inviting me in. Her face was wet with the melt of the snow, as if mascara were running down her perfectly colored face. Her features formed a perfect natural masterpiece, as if carved by De Vinvi himself. They call her Mt Aspiring, and this year she lured me in for the NW ridge climb.

“As soon as I saw her, I fell in love” – Jacinda Boully

Kyle Marr, a relatively new mountaineer had a mission to climb Mt Aspiring within 3 days.. walking in from the Rasberry Creek carpark through Bevan Col. Day 1 – ingress, Day 2 – Summit, Day 3 – Egress. A lot say that this is a rater ambitious goal.. but everyone knows that I like a good challenge. So on the 15th of March, I agreed to join in on the adventure and began the long journey from Wanaka township.

Both Kyle and myself didn’t have a car so we began by hitchhiking from Wanaka. We were given a ride by a couple who were climbing Mt Roy, A family that was paragliding at Trebel Cone Ski area, and a Dutch guy who was travelling NZ alone and seemed to be having the time of his life! By time we rolled into the carpark, the day was already getting on (say about 12:30pm) and I already started to revise the plan in my head. We walked past Mt aspiring hut, French ridge and Liverpool hut and into the Upper Matukituki valley. When we reached the upper section of the Matukituki River it was approximatly 7:00pm, and I knew the hardest was yet to come. So we decided to try and find Scotts Biv Rock which was marked on the NZ topo map.. we searched everywhere and finally decided that a somewhat spiky and uncomfortable looking rock must be it..

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Jacinda and Kyle’s Biv – Upper Matukituki valley

The next day when we went back to the track, we found scotts Biv, a alarmingly obvious location with a very comfortable flat ground inside.. I swear they changed the track from what was on the topo map…

Given we were a day behind schedule I started to replan the route and ration the food that we had brought along with us. We had enough food for 5 days between us if we were willing to be slightly hungry the whole time.. [I was praying the hut had left over food! 😕 ]

The next day, i knew it was going to be long.. even if Kyle was convinced it would be a half day. We loaded up with porridge and set off up the the end of the Matukituki river until we met a waterfall. We scrambled around the scree slopes [aka.. shitty NZ rock climbing] and began soloing the slabs up the valley so that we could get to the base of Bevan Col. We used ropes more for  mental support as there was no pro to be places over 30m-60m.. BTW – climbing in mountain boots is messed up.. I definitely should have practiced before being thrown into the deep end (my heart is still beating a few paces faster than normal)

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Once out of slab territory, it was a relativly eas scramble up to Bevan Col, where Mt Aspiring revealed herself! It was the most beautiful site I had ever seen.

Once in at the hut, I was relieved to see that we had extra food! We radioed into Mt Aspiring hut for the weather report and knew the next day (friday) was un-climbable due to the wind. However Saturday was meant to be a great day. We decided to wait it out and stay in the hut, summit on Saturday then egress on Sunday.

After a wild storm front came through on Friday night we woke Saturday morning to clear skies and still winds. We went for the summit and although we didn’t summit that day, it was the most exposed elegant and fun route I have ever been on in my life. The route was mainly rock and we were able to rap off the mountain onto the Therma glacier to get back to the hut.

Sunday we egressed, crossing some sketchy blue ice sections.. the walk out was long, slow and strikingly beautiful.

When back in Wanaka my obvious first choice of thing to do was to have a long awaited shower! There is nothing that fixes things more than a shower at the end of a long trip.

Small actions make big differences…

Every time you take a leap you begin heading into a new and often unknown direction.. In our current social arena there is some very carved out pathways that if not taken will definitely raise some eyebrows.. for better or worse.

I often wonder how many of the 7 trillion people on earth critically analyse how their individual pathway (new or old) contribute to the bigger picture; locally, nationally, internationally and even globally. AND i also wonder how many just keep following the pack.. (you know the saying about being a sheep).

There is a romantic idea about being an individual that impacts 7 trillion lives a day, however I fear that as a (sort of) community we have broadened our view to wide to not realise how small changes make big impacts.

How does our traditional lifestyle choices benefit or hinder the big picture? Are we sustainable at a local level before trying to assist others (just as in airplanes.. put your mask on before helping others)?  What changes can we make day to day to improve/sustain our future?

I challenge everybody to think outside the box, take a view from above, carve your own pathway and challenge the norm 🙂 Who knows, the end of the rope might take you to undiscovered territory that is beautifully maintained because of the small actions that were taken by everybody.

Two years ago, I embarked on a journey within a new city (my first metropolitan home) to start a new career, while in the background alot of family issues were boiling at the surface. At the beginning, I instantly knew I would never properly feel at home in the new city, however, so as not to disappoint my mum and her dream for me to become a CEO I thought I should give it a good crack! And so, I dove in and embarked on the most challenging journey of my life.

The new career path that I was entering into was a technical water science career that had the opportunity to be spun in many different directions. I often explain the work I do as mathematically modelling the environment and pouring water in to see what happens in terms of water quantity (flooding) and quality. Learning these skills has given me a great foundation and understansing in the water industry which is transferrable to so many areas including policy, science or management.

Throughout my time I had proven to myself that I can be technical, I can learn quickly, I can learn on the job and I have an ability to adapt to a situation and work through to a solution even if I have minimal tools. I also learnt about my core values and what I need in my day to make me feel fulfilled. I summarise my main learnings as follows;

•You should ask questions. You should challenge others.. no matter how old they are, they might not know the answer.

•It is OK to not know everything.. don’t pretend.

•I need to be working in a team.

•I am very outcome driven, which isn’t what is commonly seen in the science industry.

•I often take on challenges that not many others are willing to engage in. In fact these challenges are what I am to be involved with.

•You aren’t going to get on with everyone you work with/meet, however, your body language does effect how others respond and how well they complete a task.

•It is OK to not be similar to everyone else. In fact it is great to differentiate yourself.

•Specializing is great (you wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix a fence) but it is also OK to gain skills in many different areas to create idea synthesis. The Renaissance used to think it admirable to be well versed in many different areas.

•Communication and interpersonal skills are highly regarded in a work place

•Culture eats policy for breakfast. It is important to have a great culture in your team, my observations lead me to believe that the culture of a company is engrained in employees and it isn’t always easy to change.

•I thrive on uncertainty. I love the idea of not knowing what will happen next. This isn’t something that is common in engineering.

•Persistence is great, as long as it is in line with your end goal. Sometimes it is just as admirable to recognize when you need to step down and allow scope for change (fail quickly).

•Regardless of what I think, I am a leader..

I chose to fail fast and resign from my “career” as a flood engineer, to get my career back on track to working towards empowering others to do what they love and work towards sustainable solutions in the environment with a great focus on water scarcity, renewable energy, recycling, conservation and sustainable farming.