Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#2) Monte FitzRoy

It’s a pretty short journey from No 3 in my list of mountain treks to No 2. From Torres del Paine National Park you need only skip across the border into Argentina to find yourself at the foot of Monte FitzRoy, less than 200km away. Perhaps the single-most impressive mountain I’ve had the pleasure to ogle, FitzRoy is an enormous bubble of rock – its summit escarpment is more than 1km in height – rising out of the fierce Patagonian Andes.

It’s been 10 years since I hiked here, and still the walk and the landscape live with me. It was a hike of both expectation and frustration, since I walked for almost a week in FitzRoy’s shadow before the clouds parted to grant a glimpse of the mountain I’d travelled half the world to see. Continue reading

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Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#3) Torres del Paine

I’m getting towards the pointy end of my list of favourite mountain treks…and quite literally with this entry. Chile’s multi-pronged Torres del Paine are one of South America’s pin-up images, with the massif’s sharp peaks rising as bent and broken as a fisherman’s fingers. Continue reading

Top 10 MountainTreks: (#4) Larapinta Trail

My amble through the world’s great mountain treks continues, and finally I come close to home. Cross the Great Dividing Range along Australia’s east coast and the continent flattens into a vast and empty plain. But it’s not universally flat. There are mountain ranges dispersed through the deserts, and few are more spectacular than the West MacDonnell Ranges. It took a long time before somebody realised the West Macs were almost custom designed for a multi-day hiking route, but eventually the Larapinta Trail was born. It was worth the wait. Continue reading

Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#5) Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc – No 5 in the list of my 10 favourite mountain treks – takes me back to my origins, to my first real extended hike. It was an accidental kind of journey that sprang from the desperation of the ABC – Another Bloody City – of my European backpacking days. This walk truly cured all, introducing me to one of the world’s classic mountain hikes and seeding my passion for mountains and the outdoors. Continue reading

Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#6) Nelson Lakes to Lewis Pass

The journey through my favourite mountain trails continues, closer to home now, on New Zealand’s South Island. But not among the usual roll calls of famous tramps. Continue reading

Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#8) Skyline Trail

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about my favourite mountain treks, trying to narrow them down to the finest 10. The journey now crosses the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, ascending into the Rocky Mountains outside of Jasper, where the Skyline Trail joins my previous nominations: Gokyo Ri (10) and the Picos de Europa (9). Continue reading

Friday Foto: Mt Oakleigh, Tasmania

View over snowy treetops on the slopes of Mount Oakleigh

Last winter, I spent a week in Tasmania’s mountains, hiking the Overland Track. Setting out at almost the exact moment of midwinter, it was a journey to experience Australia’s most popular long-distance walking trail at its least popular time. It was a week in which a whole lot of rainy days bracketed this one perfect day of snow. Continue reading

The Monk Who Walks Only to Freedom

In the Indian town of McLeod Ganj, above Dharamsala, you sense that you’re at the very edge of high drama. The mighty Himalayas rise beyond, and so many of its residents are here to escape persecution in Tibet. Tourists come for many reasons.  Curiosity. Spirituality. A break in the eye of the travel storm that is India. A chance glimpse of the Dalai Lama at his home-in exile. A few, like me, come to hike. Continue reading