I love the mountains, they call to me and when I’m among them I feel at home…
…So its a pity that I was born in Australia. Our tallest mountain is Mt Kosciusko which stands at 2228m tall, on the international scale this doesn’t rate as a much of a mountain. However, although they are short in stature, they are unique in nature, and I do love them. There is really no other range in the world like the Snowy Mountains, with its alpine bogs, snow gums and rolling terrain. Its here where I have enjoyed some of my most memorable hikes, its where I learned to ski and its here while walking for 19 days that I decided to pursue a new path. A shift in the direction of my life.
After living in Canada for close to 2 years, I returned to Australia in 2016 to pursue a Bachelor of Outdoor Education at Latrobe University, Bendigo. It was a great year and introduced me to a new passion, rock climbing. I spent the majority of my free time camping out at, Mt Arapiles the Grampians or some other crag. By the time mid year break came around, I had led more than 50 climbs, bought thousands of dollars worth of gear, met amazing people and made many new friends. The climbing community were so welcoming and valued many things important to me. It was in this community that I found my niche. A shared spirit of adventure, time spent outdoors, respect of the environment, true camaraderie and trust.
Between these climbing trips, the uni degree motored on, assignments were due every other week. Meanwhile the Uni sent us skiing, hiking and paddling frequently. Always teaching us new skills and environmental knowledge. Then before I knew it the final subject for the year was looming, Long-walk, a 19 day hike through several wilderness areas of the Australian high country including the Snowy Mountains and Mount Kosciusko. The trip was fantastic and I relished the opportunity to connect with the beautiful landscape, without the pressures of life. As a bonus I got to do it with a rad bunch of people and many lifelong memories were made. Walking all day, everyday gave me a lot of time to think and dream. I constantly found myself wishing I had a pair of skis for the unskied chutes on Watson’s crag, a mountain bike to skid down the steep decent known as ‘The Pinch’ or a kayak for the rumbling rapids of the Snowy River. While living in Canada I first considered the idea of doing a mountaineering course one day. I loved the hiking, but I also longed for the adrenaline and adventure of something faster paced. At the end of the trip we were having a group discussion and one of my companions, Liam, asked each of us why we were studying the degree. The rest of the group had great, personal responses and then it came to me. I realized, that despite such an amazing year, and the amount I had learned, I wanted things that neither the course nor Australia could provide. I had of course been reflecting on this question throughout the year, but it wasn’t until I had spent 19 days thinking about it, that my answers sort of fell down around me. I realized what I longed for was bigger mountains and the experiences they provided.
For the next two weeks, after returning from the hike, barely a moment went by that I didn’t think about what I actually wanted to do. After much research, and consultation with my parents, I made the decision to withdraw from my university course, even though I still had 2 years left to go. I told them I was going to move to New Zealand with the goal of becoming a certified Mountain Guide. I want to spend as much time as possible in the mountains. Getting a job that allowed me to work in them as well as play was my best shot at this. I also believe that I have a good predisposition to guiding, I keep a cool head under pressure, have well developed risk management skills and good leadership skills. My whole family was very supportive of this choice and by Christmas it was mostly finalized.
I now know the NZMGA website like the back of my hand and I have mapped out my path to reach my goal of IFMGA certification. To become an International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) certified I have to achieve a New Zealand Mountain Guide Association (NZMGA) Ski guide and climbing guide qualification. Its going to be a long journey though as I have no experience mountaineering. I have to keep an active log of three mountaineering, climbing and skiing seasons before applying for the first round of training. If I pass, then I can be an associate guide for 2 years before going for the final round of training to receive full qualification. I will elaborate on this process in my next post.
I’m writing this blog so that you can follow along with this journey, learning about everything it takes for me to go from an unqualified amateur to the highest level of climbing accreditation in the world. I hope to teach you about the mountains and the sports I love. I aim to entertain you with epic tales and adventures, as I gain the necessary experience. Along the way I’ll pass on my experience and opinion of the gear I use through my reviews. And with any luck I can facilitate the creative photography and videography of the people I meet along the way.
So New Zealand here we come. I have been consolidating my gear, selling whats unnecessary and working 9 days a week to fund my move. Stay tuned and I hope you decide to follow along, because I fly out on the 4th of April 2017 to embark on this next chapter.