International Mountain Day 2015

It’s bigger than Christmas, Easter, St Pat’s Day and birthdays (well, yours not mine, of course…).

Today is International Mountain Day, a celebration of those big pointy things that cover around 20% of the Earth’s land and, once loved, are never far from your heart. Here’s a little photographic ode to some of the mountains that I consider family…

Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

 

IMD5

 

Possibly my favourite mountain range in the world, inhabited by the likes of gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves and with escarpments that drop up to 2000 metres into the heat-hazed lowlands below. Spectacular at every step.

The Eiger, Switzerland

IMD3

It pretty much spawned the term ‘North Face’ for the epic wall that rises above the Grindelwald valley. I’ve told my kids that if we get a dog we should call it Eiger… they seem less sold on the idea than me.

Ngauruhoe, New Zealand

IMD2

I’m a sucker for a good volcano, and Ngauruhoe sure fits the bill. The central volcano of a trio across the Central Plateau of New Zealand’s North Island, it’s as classically volcanic as it gets… and a little bit Mordor, as the Lord of the Rings films proved.

Torres del Paine, Chile

IMD4

Pretty much the prototype for rugged mountains the world over. The trio of towers – the Torres – is just a taster of the greater massif and its cuernos (horns), glaciers and narrow valleys.

Frenchmans Cap, Australia

IMD1

One of Tasmania’s most prominent mountains, Frenchmans Cap really is like family, after I climbed it with my then 10-year-old daughter a couple of years back. There’s something very special about a shared time like that.

Ama Dablam, Nepal

IMD6

If I get to climb just one 6000-metre-plus peak in life, I want it to be Ama Dablam, the thumb-shaped mountain that you pass on the way to Everest. It actually makes Everest look a little passé, really.

Guangzi, China

IMD7

They’re not high and nobody is scrambling to attain epic first ascents here, but the limestone peaks that angle out from the banks of the Li River are really quite the lookers.

El Capitan & Half Dome, USA

IMG_0647

Rock stars in every sense, El Cap and Half Dome dominate everything around the Yosemite Valley and half the world’s climbing stories. If I had the climbing skills, I’d happily call Camp 4 home.

10

The New Publishing Sensation…

My favourite young adventurer – aka my daughter – has made her first mark on the publishing world.

OT journey

Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service has just produced a walking guide for children on the Overland Track, titled ‘My Overland Track Journey! For Young Adventurers’. It’s filled with track facts (poo and paw type stuff), field-guide material, challenges, diary pages and quizzes. It’s designed for kids to carry on the track, filling it out as the days roll out through the Tasmanian mountains.

Part of the research for the booklet was done by my then-nine-year-old daughter when we hiked the Overland Track together last year. At the end of each walking day, she’d pull her notebook from her backpack – like father, like daughter – and jot down ideas and thoughts for the booklet. She’d sit quietly in the huts or in our tent – stopping only to count the number of leeches crawling over the tent fly – and scribble suggestions she thought might appeal to other young walkers.

Her favourite moment...

Her favourite moment…

She proudly now has her own copy of the booklet, her ideas solidified in print, and is part-horrified, part-chuffed that it’s filled with photos of her along the track. In her own way, she’s left her indelible mark on the outdoors experience along Tasmania’s most famous walking trail.

And in a neat twist, one of the first kids who’ll get to sample her work is her younger brother, when he and I hike the Overland Track together this coming summer. This booklet, and her work, may just have made my life easier for a week.

Friday Foto: Tunnel Bay

Tunnel Bay

Often the finest discoveries you make in the outdoors are the ones close to home that you didn’t know existed. Two days ago I ventured to the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania’s southeast, a filament of land best known for its convict history, though among the climbing and surfing fraternity it’s also an undisputed adventure icon. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Friendly Beaches

Friendly Beaches

The ocean has figured heavily in my life this week. Two nights ago I was sleeping beside it, on the wonderfully named Friendly Beaches (above) on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula, sleeping like I haven’t slept in weeks, lulled by rhythm of the waves and the sea. Continue reading

Travel Writing Awards

Last weekend the Australian Society of Travel Writers held its annual awards, and I was honoured to pick up two gongs: one for the best story about Australia (over 1000 words), and the other for the best international story (under 1000 words). I was also a finalist in two other categories, including travel photographer of the year. Continue reading

The Wild Side of Home

In his elegant book The Wild Places, Cambridge fellow Robert Macfarlane set out to explore the notion of wilderness by travelling to remote remnants of the British Isles. After wandering through the likes of Coruisk and Rannoch Moor, he came to the conclusion that wilderness could be as near as it is far – that a remote mountain range could be wild, but so too could a hedgerow. The wild world is not just some grand and craggy other, existing far from our everyday lives. Continue reading

The Power of a Photo: Saving Tasmania’s Franklin River

Thirty years ago, big business tried to change Tasmania’s natural landscape, promising to dam the wild Franklin River and hand back electricity in its place. Instead, the Franklin River changed the Australian political landscape, helping overturn a government and giving the nascent Green movement legitimacy and support. Continue reading