Friday, January 29


You know that you are really dead tired when u turn a week-end day into a week-day without flinching. Sandra and I, yes, JUST sandra and i, climbed till exhaustion and then ... and then ... when i had to go run at 9:30pm, I just switched Saturday with Friday, and then today was Saturday and I just didn't have to run anymore.

This just means that tomorrow when it's going to be Friday, I'll go running. However, tomorrow will be Saturday as well because I have a cook-a-thlon on. I am preparing romanian foods for my climbing friends to celebrate that next week i'm turning twenty-fucking-eight!! Yay! One more year closer to death woo hoo!! I am sure that i will get over the confusion by the time my friends come, but I can't promise that i'll take a shower after running and before cooking. Just though they would want to know.

Wednesday, January 27


Marian decided to surprise me so he went ahead and bought tomato seeds, soil, and cut 4 2l milk bottles such that we could plant the tomatoes. He really succeeded in making me squeal!!! And i thought only climbing gear, books, or cool geeky devices made me squeal - turns out a piece of bio-flora all purpose potting mix can do the trick as well!
We planted red and yellow tomatoes and red chillies yay!!! Hopefully some will come out and even more hopefully, in 90 days (as the envelope promised) there will be some fruits!!!)

Monday, January 25

Dusky Track (Part 1)

Well it is about time I tell about our adventures on the Dusky Track, in the Fiordlands, New Zealand. Be prepared for a tale of mud, cold, wet, and well ... mud, and cold and wet. And sandflies. That would even bite me, after there were not enough room on the two boys, I think. The track has several huts, by name and in the order that we did them: 1. To Halfway Hut, 2. From Halfway Hut to Lake Roe Hut, 3. From Lake Roe Hut to Loch Maree Hut (over the Pleasant Range) 4. From Loch Maree to Supper Cove, 5. From Supper Cove to Loch Maree, 6. From Loch Maree to Kintail Hut, 7. From Kintail Hut to Upper Sprey Hut, 8. From Upper Sprey Hut to civilisation.
Why didn't we just choose a flight in one of these?

Eight days, carrying food, sleeping bag and one (ONE) change of dry clothes - thank god we didn't have to carry a tent because i would have died. The weight of my backpack remained pretty much constant because I was carrying the stove, and the pots and pretty much every heavy can I could find. I kept telling myself that this was training, but I still have to establish the purpose of the training. Halfway through I gave the first spot of the heaviest backpack to marian, ascertaining once and for all that Pasha was a wuss :))

The most horrible thing was the fact that, because it rained 7.5 days out of 8, our boots were never dry. Actually, they were always wet. And putting on your wet boots in the morning when everything around you is damn cold (and wet - such as your socks, your thermal, etc) is not a very nice thing to do. At first we tried to avoid all the pools (the water pools that is), but by the end of the trip we just walked through them, provided they were not higher than our waist. We could not do the same for the mud pools because you really got stuck in them. And you couldn't really take your eyes of the path because the second you did you either fell flat on you face (happened to me twice), you fell flat on you ass, preferably in a mud pool (three times, that one), or you just slipped. We even had a radio beacon to press in case anything happened (such as broken arms etc - happened, according to the hut registers).

The forest was AMAZING. I have never seen anything like this, and I will let the photos do the talking.

Day 1. To Halfway Hut - 6hrs
Got treated to a jet boat ride because the water on Lake Hauroko was damn tormented. After the customary before picture, the nightmare begins.
Rainbow at Lake Hauroko

The forest

The mud pools (Those are MY tracks he's stepping in)

The first water (and to think I was impressed by that). This was the first time our boots started to go SLUSH, SLUSH!

The path is through here (see orange triangle)

Our stuff to dry in the hut - we had it all for ouselves!

Boot soup!!

2. Halfway Hut to Lake Roe Hut. 6 hrs.
The second day it rained all day, so I only took Bobby out for a couple of pictures. Towards the end of the day it gets a bit steep while we get out of the forest into alpine land woohoo!! Bye-bye rain, hello snow!! Marian and I are still in shorts + gaiters and will be for the rest of the trip.

Amazing forest and peaks!

Happy but cold couple

It looks cold and dark because it was cold and dark. Those people had been there for the entire day and had not made the fire. Pfft.

3. Lake Roe to Loch Maree. 6.5 hrs. Here you are going over Pleasant Range, a mellow climb followed by a very steep descent into Loch Maree. It's called Pleasant Range because supposedly it has the best views, with Dusky Sound and the ocean in the distance. No such luck for us!

Still in good spirits

Despite the snow

Lake Horizon

Basically, I was freezing like a piece of shit.

The clouds did part for a second, but we didn't see much. After all the cold and the wind and the snow and the fog and "the shit fuck crap we shoulda stayed in the hut" (from me) we finally reached the bush line and descended into the forest. It was comparatively warmer, yay! We even managed to help a family (him, her, and their 13-year old boy) descend. After we got back to the hut, I sent the boys back to take their bags as well.

Loch Maree

Marian crossing the walkwire towards Loch Maree - the longest of the 21 we crossed, 250 meters!

The hut! We spent New Year's here. Not a great thing, just that I wanted to sleep but Pasha kept talking to some other people. Did I tell you how loud he is!? Among his views we have "Blacks are lazy" and "Singapore has no fresh air". I.d.i.o.t.

Thursday, January 21


Well, seeing how January is nearly coming to an end, it's time to talk about the status of the new year resolutions that I made. I haven't really talked about them here but here they are in all their magic:

  1. Don't talk to idiots

  2. Grow tomatoes at home - inspired by the awesome taste of tomatoes in New Zealand

  3. Run 10 km every day except one day in the weekend. - to increase my mileage base such that i can achieve a sub-four hour marathon this year!!

  4. Learn how to bake good bread - totally envisioning myself as a bread baker, with Marian using my bread for his breakfast - 4 slices of bread with butter and honey - for the past five years.

What's the status you wonder?

Well, I totally broke point 1. when I talked to Pasha (our fellow traveller) on the first day of the new year. With one down off my list, my heart and soul are lighter now and I can focus on the others. The last point is fairly easy to tackle, and I will just as soon as my birthday passes - the thing is, i plan to host and cook romanian foods for both my climbing friends and my non-climbing friends, and I can't hold them together because the apartment will just not be able to hold so many people. This means I have to cook twice, and thus I am saving my mojo for that.

The same goes for tomatoes, probably will have to do a bit of googling and stuff like that.

And the running? Well, because I re-sprained my ankle on our trip to Mueller Hut, and because Dusky Track (story to come) has left me sooo tired, I am only running 5km a day. So far so good, I am into the second week of doing this - hell, i wish my nike+ sensor was working, i could have clocked a zillion kms! However, it turns out not to be as easy as expected, partly because of my tiredness, partly because of the harder climbing training that i am voluntarily submitting myself to. The result is that I am aching more than I would want to both in my arms and my legs! I will probably give it a month or so and then transition to larger distances. Or it could be that I will just forget about it and pretend it never crossed my mind.

Still looking for a mid-year marathon...

Tuesday, January 19


Climbed this Sunday with Sandra at Climb Asia. Actually, we were there to entertain Doris who was belaying her non-climbing friends (and trying to kill some of them as well - guess this is what happens when you have a belayer that weighs 40 kg: sometimes, you get to the ground faster :)) )

Anyhow, thinking of my recent non-climbing trip to New Zealand and of Sandra's slacking thereof, on Sunday we employed a pretty lame progression. Not only were we doing only top rope (although Sandra did have her rope at home, unlike me), but we started with the amazing awe-inspiring difficulty of 5. Yup 5.

Following a very slow progression, we moved up to 5c, 6a, 6a+, 6b, 6b, 6c, 6c. Alas, we stopped at 6c, not because this is usually where we stop (note to self, this year must lead 6c, ok?) but also because there were no more difficult routes to tope rope (who would put a 7a for top rope, I wonder?) Furthermore, we were EXTREMELY PUMPED! This is what happens when there are only two climbers out for a session - there aren't any rest times!

By the time we reached the last 6c (which i didn't manage to finish, by the way) we were so pumped that I didn't even want to try anymore. To the point where I was up there, trying to load a very shitty sloper to go to a very shitty pinch, Sandra was saying "COME ON!", my right biceps was shaking at the prospect of loading again, and all I could muster was a whimper, "aargh, let me down" ... Alas, maybe next time we start with 6a. Or, in the spirit of slow and steady, with a 5c?

Saturday, January 16

A night at Mueller Hut

The next thing to do was to go to Mueller Hut. It is a 4hr trek up to the hut from the Mount Cook village.

As usual, rain was forecasted and it fell. Nothing new here, so I wasn't really phased. After four years of CONSTANT fucking rain whenever I go in the mountains, why the hell should it bother me now?

Rant aside, we did see a small accident when a girl rushed down a snow slope only to get stopped by some rocks. The impending bruises (to the head) and dislocated shoulder that come with such meetings were in the end solved by a helicopter rescue (which we didn't see, alas). I was nonetheless able to provide them with some paracetamol for the pain, putting to good use the first-aid kit which none of the guys really thought was necessary in the first place. HAH!

Marian saw snow for the first time in ages!

Another inspiring thing was the ranger at Mueller Hut, a 75-year old Brit by the name of Mark. Apparently, he spends all English winters in New Zealand doing jobs like this, minding huts and farms. Every day he goes out of the hut and around the plateau. Inspiring, if i do say so myself. We met some Philipinos who live in New Zealand and milk cows for an existence. They carried a bottle of Jim Beam up to the hut and were very nice to share with everybody. I didn't have it, but I did steal some of their oranges that were supposed to go with it. As usual, pasha from russia was hungry for friends and stalked everybody to death (I think that as geeks, marian and i really do go out a lot - or maybe he doesn't, who knows). Below is mark with some of the philipinos.

Before reaching the hut I twisted my right ankle (the one with 2/3 ligaments) and had to stop to breathe because the pain was very intense. Bandaged it when I reached the hut, but still it gave me trouble for the whole trip (still does). The hut is like a hotel compared to the next ones we will see ... The toilet even has two compartments that require your aim: forward for the liquids, backward for the more solid matters. This is because solid feces do not decompose in alpine environments and have to be flown out.

Some serac fall

We didn't see Mount Cook until the next day, when it showed itself to us in all its splendor. Woke up at 5:30 to see the sunrise but it was very cloudy.

Instead we got this:

We went up to mount Olivier, a very very easy scramble, and the boys were chicken to follow me to the next mountain on the ridge (not so easy scramble), so I didn't go. Ah well ...
I look like a gangsta here

And Marian is soo neat!

Took a picture with Mark

And then started down

Coming down, of course Pasha had to rush the same slope the girl came tumbling down, only he had to film himself descending (he had heard from mark about a guy doing the same thing and how cool that was and I guess he wanted to see for himself). It wasn't cool, it was STUPID, but nonetheless it reminded me of somebody else who would have done the same thing. He is now dead. One of the greatest lessons one should learn is to LEARN from other people's mistakes.

Mount Cook!!

As usual, the rest of the pictures are here.

Thursday, January 14


Ok, I'll go ahead and admit it: I like peanut butter!! I have just returned from a somewhat anxious google search hoping to discover that maybe it doesn't originate from the states but from a more likeable place. This is because USA and all its things at best leaves a "MEH" impression on me (except REI and yosemite I guess). As such, I was really really hoping it would come from Norway. Or Germany. I would have settled for Russia even. Alas, it doesn't. I do not know how americans eat it, but i eat it with my right index finger straight from the jar. Sometimes when I am feeling posh, it will go on a piece of bread.

Before coming to Singapore I had never tasted peanut butter before. Like ever. And until last year I had never really tried it. I came upon it while trying to find a replacement for dry apricots as a pre-race diet. This is because dry apricots. They. make. you. shit. A. lot. Shitalot! (say it with me) So far the peanut butter has worked for me (I am secretly ascribing it with my 4.08 finish). Unfortunately, it seems to be moving from a race food to a everyday-must-eat-because-it's-open kinda food, for which my fingers and my ass will not thank me. The only good news is that I have just bought the crunchy version, which is too peanuty for IR.

Wednesday, January 13

Blue as the sky

Are the lakes of New Zealand. Just a teaser here, with lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. We arrived late on Christmas day and drove all the way to Lake Tekapo. We were not able to stop anywhere to eat because everything was closed, pretty much as in Singapore for Chinese New Year.

They have a zillion sheep, half a zillion cow, and some deer farms.

Gerry's gone and built herself a village

And your jaw kinda drops when you first see this:

Pretty much so that you start doing this:

And then there are the sunsets:

And by the time you reach Lake Tekapo you are practically drooling over the steering wheel.

A half-socked kiss (yes I stepped in the water, it was cccold)

Fantastic skies:

Other people are working here, ok??!?!

Lake Pukaki (behind the cloud is Mt. Cook, I am told):

I just love this color

Once a goof, always a goof.

As usual, more pics here.