Mountaineering on the World Stage – a big year ahead!

Never heard of the 7 Summits?  Worse still, never heard of the aussie7summits mountaineering team – now that’s a biased position to take I know, but one that, with a few minutes of your reading time we can overcome.

OK – let me bring you up to speed.

The 7 Summits is a well known mountaineering challenge with the aim of climbing the highest summit on each continent.  Mountaineers have been chasing this objective since April 1985 when Richard Bass, an American, was the first to achieve all seven summits.  Since then there have been all types of variations – youngest, oldest, first female, married couple, the list goes on.  And that list is not as long as you might think.  In the 28 years since it was first achieved there have been approximately 350 climbers who have successfully completed the objective.

And the aussie7summits mountaineering team?  We are 3 mountaineers based in Sydney Australia, and of course we are chasing a first – the first asthmatic to complete the 7 summits.

In the past year we have completed an ascent of Mt Kosciusko in Australia and Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. And having had the opportunity to sit down and make some plans for the year ahead we can now confirm –North Face of Mt Elbrus

  • we will be departing Sydney for Mt Elbrus in early August.  Elbrus is a dormant volcano and at 5,642 metres lies just inside the Russian – Georgian border.
  • that early in December we will once again be in the queues at Sydney International airport – this time boarding a flight for Santiago, en-route to Mendoza to collect our permits so we can commence a climb of Mt Aconcagua in Argentina.  This is a big one – known for it’s windy and cold weather conditions the summit, at 6,960 metres is not an easy ask.  And we’ll be making it that little bit more difficult by ascending across the glaciers on the Polish route.
  • our plan for 2014, although not locked in, is to be back on Mt McKinley in Alaska for the April climbing season and then hopefully down to Antarctica in December for an attempt on Mt Vinson and who knows – maybe several other unclimbed peaks.

There’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge before this all comes to fruition, but leave requests are already in with the boss for the first two climbs so we are technically underway!  From here it’s on with getting logistics in place for each climb and, of course, the ever present training programme that each of us undertakes to ensure we are ready to lace on the boots and start climbing when the time comes.Mt McKinley

And as we progress through the next 12 months and stand atop each of these summits in turn, we’d like to know that we had you following us and staying in touch with updates on our activities.

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Give us a go – stay with us for a few months and see how we go – and of course give us some feedback.  If we’re not keeping you entertained let us know – we’ll have to lift our game.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

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COMPETITION – An important team motivator.

This is a true story and it goes like this …

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Head down and going hard, all in the name of competition!

Two weeks back, five of us took a trip through Fortress Canyon and on the day the weather was pretty brutal, with temperatures up in the high thirties.  Our walk along the ridge-line track, to the cars, was a tough one and approx. 40 minutes into the walk I offered BJ some assistance and carried her pack on my shoulders.

Now, if you know our team well, you’ll understand that we’re not a competitive lot, as long as we are all in front or carrying the heaviest load.

Normally you wouldn’t expect this change in loads to be a big concern but today it was made very clear to me that I’d misread the situation.

Lachlan, our young recruit, was keen to climb something or walk somewhere today and so despite the poor weather we agreed on a short walk out to the Grose Valley and back.  The trip out was “pace on” and Lachlan was doing a fantastic job of both walking and talking!  At the Precision rock pillar Lachlan got his chance to climb and abseil before we started the return trip.

Now Hugh’s obviously been harbouring some residual feeling of defeat from the last trip because when Lachlan started to show some sign of tiredness he lifted Lachlan up onto his shoulders.  Any of my offers of assistance were rejected and Hugh’s head went down and he powered off to the car, making sure it was clear to us that this was no effort at all!

At this point Hugh, I’ll concede – there’s no way my training has me ready to come close to that effort.  Just watch your back though…  we’ll be close behind later in the year, don’t you worry.

Now this story is a true one and if Hugh tries to convince you otherwise the photos are included as proof for all to see!

Record Temperatures – let’s try Canyoning!

Forecast heatwave, with record temperatures across Australia. What else would you do but make a trip through Fortress Canyon in the Blue Mountains?

7 am and we are out the door, first stop a coffee and then on out into the Blue Mountains National Park. After 20 minutes we’ve made the turn off that will take us down into the valley and in a further 20 minutes we’ve reached the first signs of Fortress creek that will lead us out to the Grose Valley cliff line.

After a quick wardrobe change we are now kitted out in wetsuits and continuing on our way. The first hour is spent following the creek that is slowly growing in flow as side tributaries add to the water volume. There’s a nice 2 metre “jump in” that leads into the first swim for the day. From here on it’s a mix of wading and swimming along the stream between the narrow sandstone walls that reach skyward before we reach the days only abseil.

Anchor chains on the wall make for an easy set-up by Hugh while the rest of us are putting on harnesses and then it’s one by one over the edge, dropping approx. 6 metres before continuing the swim toward the exit.
Exiting the canyon to the view over the Grose valley is … – well you just got to either go there to behold, or check out our photos that we’ve posted. It’s incredible!

With such a fantastic view it’s hard to tear ourselves away and so with the temperature climbing we take an extra 45 minutes to rest and hydrate before commencing the 75 minute walk back to the cars.

With the temperature well over 30 degrees, the 150 vertical metre climb was never going to be enjoyable, so it’s “pole-pole” (slowly-slowly) to the top, all the time making sure that we are continuing to drink plenty of water. Approx. an hour and a quarter after leaving the canyon exit we are back at the cars. It’s been a hot, slow slog back and we’ve drunk approx. 15 litres of water between the 5 of us.