A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bushwalker, The N.S.W. Nurses' Association Rooms “Northcote Building,” Reiby Place, Sydney.
Box No. 4476, G.P.O. Sydney. 'Phone 843985.
|Editor||Bill Gillam, Old Bush Rd., Engadine, 5208423|
|Business Manager||Bill Burke, Coral Tree Rd., West Pennant Hills|
|The February General Meeting||J. Brown||2|
|Letter to the President||5|
|Crossing the Main Divide||Ross Wyborn||6|
|Rescue New Zealand Style||Peter Cameron||10|
|A Study||Sir Nigel Egap.||12|
|Why Bring A Tent||K.M.||17|
The first meeting of the Club Year - which is by way of contradiction the penultimate meeting under the retiring President - began in a deceptively quiet way with no new members, nothing arising from January's minutes, and quite a small and unexciting array of correspondence amongst it advice that the Blue Mountains National Park Trust did not propose to appoint new trustees in current vacancies pending a determination on forthcoming legislation, while the two positions on the Fauna Protection Panel had been filled by the people we (in company with other organisations) had supported.
However there was a slightly alarming suggestion by Ron Khightley that not all the correspondence had been presented and it was disclosed that an anonymous item, relating to the coming National Parks Act, and apparently voicing some strong views on the Club's attitude, had been received. Moves were still afoot to discover (if possible) its authorship. However Ron also moved, and the motion was carried, that we inform the Minister for Lands we considered a special body be established to administer National Parks.
We then heard the Treasurer announce that a financially healthy month's operations left £253 in the operating account of the Club as at the end of January (closure of the Club year). There was no Walks Report available and from the Federation Report - already published in February magazine - the question of a Reunion site. No suggestions were made.
Margaret Child presented the Parks and Playgrounds report, saying all were domestic matters except some debate on land resumptions in the Fitzroy Falls area in connection with Morton National Park.
As the opening gambit of General Business, Jack Perry reported on a visit to the Reunion site - Macarthur's Flat. There was wood and water aplenty, and the well marked track from the end of the road was about three miles in length with a descent of, say, 1500 ft. For those who may find it difficult to travel with all their gear, he believed he could arrange to hire pack horses.
Jack Gentle mentioned that the question of Water Board Catchment restrictions had been raised, but the information obtained indicated that the camp site was just outside the proclaimed catchment and the Water Board officials seemed to have faith in our good behaviour.
The question of packhorses down Starlight's Pass to the Nattai River was raised but there was no motion from the body of the meeting. The President then mentioned that, in accordance with time-honoured practice there should be an alternative Reunion site in case of fire, flood or pestilence. Someone suggested the place on the Colo River recently used for S & R practice, because a car could be taken right in to the spot. Others opined that was the very last card in the pack for a Reunion site and when it was mentioned that in the improbable event of the Nattai being in flood one could camp at Emmett's flat on the near side, it was decided to dispense with an alternative.
After David Ingram suggested that Hon. Member Mr. Coates, whose property is at the end of the road from Hill Top should be invited, Dot Butler came up with a non sequitur, and said that an ice axe and crampon hired from the newly acquired Club Alpine gear by a novice had proved faulty. The axe handle was broken, and it was found that the crampon had been damaged and rewelded and had been shortened in the process. She considered the hirer should have a refund.
No one took up this item at the time. Instead we heard Alan Rigby's report that it was proposed to establish a Prison Farm in the Newnes Area, and his motion that we seek information as to its location and whether it would hamper access by walkers. Wilf Hilder suggested it could be in the Pine Forest on the plateau, like the forest out from Oberon. It was agreed to make some informal enquiries in the first place.
Ron Knightley proposed that we advise Federation if a 1966 Anzac ceremony were to be held at Splendour Rock, the Club would support and assist in the arrangements. We carried the motion and Jack Gentle informed us from the chair that on a recent walk in the Heathcote Primitive area some crudely written (and crudely phrased) slogans had been found - obviously inscribed by some one who was not a SBW admirer. He recommended that any similar messages be carefully erased without damaging the rock or tree on which they were displayed.
Now we came back to the climbing equipment. Frank Ashdown said the actual hire of the gear had been made by an experienced climber who had an opportunity to see if it were satisfactory before passing it on to a novice. He considered there should be no refunds of money paid for the hire, but on the other hand, if the gear were not up to standard, we should have nothing more to do with it. He moved we reconsider the whole policy about hiring it established several months previously.
Gordon Redmond elaborated on the idea saying the gear should be withdrawn from our hiring equipment, and all moneys paid for it refunded. Frank Ashdown would not accept this as an amendment. After some debate in which Jack Wren suggested it should be donated to a climbing club the original motion was carried.
Again Gordon Redmond moved that money already received be refunded. Both Frank Ashdown and Frank Rigby were against this. The hiring was made in good faith, Wilf Hilder also felt that the gear should have been inspected first by an experienced climber, but believed we should get rid of it. Now the question cropped up - did the motion refer only to the hiring of the defective items or to all hirings of the Alpine gear? The lot, said Gordon Redmond, and although sundry voices were raised in opposition, the motion was carried. Jack Wren now formally moved giving the stuff away to anyone who could use it - possibly the local contingent of the N.Z. Alpine Club - also carried.
The President announced, as the meeting drew towards its close, that amongst vacancies definitely known on next year's Committee, there would be President, Secretary and Social Secretary. Bill Gillam explained that the usual magazine summary of coming attractions amongst the day walks had been mislaid and would not appear in the February issue, and with the usual cry for Room Stewards, the meeting wound up - the hour 9.25 pm.
|March 20||Engadine - Woronora River - Woronora Trig. - Waterfall. 12 miles. A rock hop along the Woronora River through portion of the Heathcote Primitive Area. Well off the beaten track. Train: 8.20 a.m. Cronulla Train from Central Electric Station to Sutherland. Change at Sutherland for rail motor to Engadine. Tickets: Waterfall return $0.60. Map: Heathcote Primitive Area or Port Hacking Tourist. Leader: Jim Callaway.|
|March 27||Cronulla - ferry to Bundeena - Wattamolla - Garie Beach - Era Beach - Lilyvale. 16 miles (at least). Starting in the North-Eastern corner of the Royal National Park, this walk takes in the beach resorts Southward. Could be scratchy. Train: 7.50 a.m. Cronulla Train from Central Electric Station 9.00 a.m. Ferry Cronulla - Bundeena. Tickets: Cronulla return, plus single rail fare Lilyvale - Sutherland plus 2/- ferry fare. Total about 12/- ($1.20). Map: Port Hacking Tourist. Leader: Edna Stratton.|
|April 3||Chatswood - bus to Terry Hills - Ryland Trig. - Cowan Creek - Bobbin Head - Mt. Kuringai Station. 12 miles. An excursion through portion of the other major National Park close to Sydney, Kuringai Chase. The Ryland Trig area could contain some thick going, otherwise, mainly tourist track. A bus service is available from Bobbin Head for anyone requiring it. Train: 7.55 a.m. Lindfield train from Central Electric Station to Chatswood. 8.25 a.m. bus Chatswood to Terry Hills. Tickets: Mt. Kuringai return via Bridge @ $0.58 plus about $0.25 bus fare. Map: Broken Bay Military. Leader: John White.|
“In acknowledgement of a letter of February 12, 1966, I sincerely appreciate the courtesy of your invitation to Camp Fire on Saturday night on MacArthur's Flat. My walking abilities are restricted I am sorry to state, however we shall certainly extend a welcome to any of your members at any time.
During past years your Club has honoured me with honorary membership, this I have at all times considered a courtesy far beyond my due. Permit me to state my family have at all times favoured a visit from your Club members (I capitalise yes) simply because no club member has at any time abused any privelege we have extended to them, however meagre the privelege has at that time been.
We welcome you sincerely, and at all times we individually at home are favoured by friendship in some instances of twenty years standing. Is this not in itself a grand part of life and a true example of comradeship. Travel may be considered to broaden ones outlook on life, and experience, however the meeting of people and friends far outweigh just travel alone. My wife, my daughter and my sons have at all times enjoyed a visit from your Club, or visiting Club, that have arrived with you…. Our family, whoever may be at home, welcome you sincerely and collectively we extend this welcome to your Club in the years to come, and hope that whatever may eventuate in the future, your Club shall grow and prosper. Thanking you for all courtesies.
Albert F Coates.
P.S. I hope some of the family shall be at home on March 12-13, to join you. A.F.C.
The Army advised that live ammunition will be used in the area from Feb 10-15 and from Feb. 18 to March 9, 1966.
The Federation has become a member.
Has advised that the agreement regarding crossing parts of its reserve in the Kowmung - Cox Rivers area still stands and that Mr. J. Hatfield, the ranger at Blackheath, has been so advised. It is essential that members of federated clubs be prepared to identify themselves when meeting the ranger and a high standard of behaviour is expected. The Board's particular worry in this area is bushfire damage.
Has referred the suggested remarking and reconstruction of Lindeman's and Robertson's Passes and Federation's offer to assist with the marking to the Council's Engineer.
Will be held on March 26-27, 1966 at Murphy's Glen in the Blue Labyrinth South of Woodford. All clubs have been requested to supply an estimate of the likely attendance.
The idea was to cross the main divide of the Southern Alps of New Zealand. The party of four - Bob Duncan, Gerry Sinzig, Peter Cameron and myself had been training in the Aspiring area further south and was now ready for the trip. There was some doubt as to what route we would take due to recent advances of the western glaciers, but after consulting Don Cowier, the chief ranger of the Westland National Park we found that our originally planned route up the Fox Glacier was the best. We also learnt that it was possible to use the New Pioneer Hut and that it contained a radio which we could use to contact the Hermitage so our food supplies could be flown in.
On December 30 last we left an old tine shed at the foot of the Fox Glacier, accompanied by a New Zealander who was to fly out of Pioneer Hut when our food was flown in. We followed the track down through the thick jungle which abounds along the West Coast and crossed a small wire suspension bridge which spans the swirling torrent of milky water that comes from the Fox Glacier. From this bridge we got a good view up the valley and of the surrounding peaks. The sky was a deep blue and the sun glistened on the fresh snow which plastered the mountains right down to the brilliant green of the bush.
The terminal face of any glacier is not usually very scenic and that of the Fox Glacier is no exception, looking something like a gravel quarry. It is only 757 feet above sea level and the main attraction of this glacier, like its sister the Franz Josef is that it flows down between the green slopes of snow grass and bush. We climbed onto the terminal ice up some old steps cut into the ice, and made good progress up the clear ice, being comparatively free of moraine. Soon however the ice became more jumbled as we started to get into the first ice fall. Here the route follows the gully between the ice and the side of the valley, but we had gone too high and were now confronted with 150 feet high ice cliffs. Retracing our foot steps we eventually gained access into the trough by cutting some steps across an ice cliff. We made good time up the moraine in this trough but the rocks were loose and dirty and it was not very pleasant going. It was with some relief that we climbed back onto the glacier where it flattened before the second and largest ice fall. We now had to cross the glacier and climb up steep snow grass and rock on the other side to reach Chancellor Hut which appeared like a small triangular rock on a wide snow ledge. At first the ice was relatively flat but as we climbed higher we found ourselves in a labyrinth of tottering ice pinnacles which formed fantastic shapes as if we were in a sculptor's workshop. The crevasses also got deeper and we found ourselves staring down into the blue depths of the glacier as we jumped over them.
Some of the party were now beginning to get their own ideas about the route to be taken and soon we found that there were five people going in five different directions. We then all tied onto one rope and this tendency was reduced somewhat. Valuable time had been lost on this section and now clouds had filled the valley and misty rain began to fall. We climbed off the glacier under an arch of ice and continued up the snow grass terraces which would lead us to the hut. As we climbed higher we got into fresh snow and we ploughed along up to our knees. Beneath the snow lay an entanglement of stunted bushes, grass and rock and it was a weary little group that stumbled into Chancellor Hut (4,100 feet) that night. Even Peter's D.V. stew tasted good that night.
Chancellor Hut is an old hut but well built and gave us very good protection from the weather. In the morning we set out under an overcast sky and made our way up the wide shelf which sidles the main ice fall. The snow was still soft and it got deeper as we climbed. Progress was made in a caterpillar fashion - the leading person collapsing in the snow after plugging about 10 yards of steps. He would then join the end of the line and the process repeated again. By midday, five hours after setting out, we gained a snow slope overlooking the Fox neve. Since we had only travelled one mile in these five hours we had to turn back. Later we calculated it would have taken us 35 hours at that rate to get to Pioneer Hut. We returned to the hut in l 1/2 hours along the trail we had made.
Soon after we entered the hut it began to rain and we sat there amusing ourselves by watching the avalanches falling off Chancellor Dome. The rain continued all night and all next day. During the height of the storm we measured the rain falling at a rate of about one inch per hour. Waterfalls gushed out of the hillside all around us - there was no possibility of either going on or going back that day. The situation was looking grim as our food supply was running low and Duncan prophesied that the weather would remain bad for at least a week. The rain however did some good as it melted the fresh snow.
Next morning dawned a perfect day, much to our surprise and after some discussion over our plans we decided to go on to Pioneer Hut, risking being short of food. The snow was now firm and after traversing the snow grass slopes we made good time to where we turned back on our first attempt. Across the neve stood the peaks of the main divide, the icy summit of Mt. Tasman towering above all others. Our route to Pioneer Hut lay in a large semi circle to dodge most of the crevasses. When we reached the top of Pioneer Ridge we were enveloped in a thick mist which reduced the visibility to a few yards. We took a compass bearing from the map and with the last person holding the compass the rope of five set off into the mist.
A muffled voice crying “Hold!” told us that Duncan, who was leading at the time, had fallen into a crevasse. Wile Peter held the rope tight I got the pack off his back and he managed to climb out leaving behind a gaping hole. After about 45 minutes on the compass bearing we knew that we were nearing the hut and strained our eyes peering into the mist. Through the swirling mist we spotted some rocks and this led to a heated argument between the leaders who thought the hut was on top of the rocks and the navigators who wanted to keep on the compass bearing. As we were spread out over 120 feet - the length of the rope - we had to shout at the top of our voices. Then we noticed a sixth voice in the argument and when our voices died down we realised that it was coming from the hut. We changed direction by 45° and found the hut 100 yards further on. Later when the mist cleared we discovered that the rock on which some of the party thought the hut was situated was actually a mountain - Mt. Alack.
Our stay at Pioneer Hut (8,500 feet) was blessed with the luck of the Gods as the following morning the weather was perfect and we were able to get our food flown in. We also managed to climb four peaks - Mt. Lindenfeld (10,503 ft), Glacier Peak (9,865 ft), Gray Peak (9,490 ft) and Mt. Alack (9,300 ft). An attempt on Mt. Haidinger (10,059 ft) however was repulsed by a strong icy wind blowing across the knife-edged ice ridge.
Some concern over the weather forced us to leave the hut a couple of days earlier than planned. We were now to cross Governor's Col (9,300 ft) and descend to the Tasman Glacier thus completing our crossing of the main divide. The snow conditions were not the best due to a couple of inches of soft snow so we decided to leave early. We got up at 1 a.m. and after our usual breakfast of oatmeal and after cleaning up the hut we left at 3 a.m. Using our head torches we made our way across the neve of the Fox towards Governor Col. At 4 a.m. the first rays of light were upon us and we were able to turn off our torches. We could see that the weather was coming over bad and that we would have to race it across the divide or risk being caught out.
As we neared Governor Col. the wind hit us and this was made worse by the bad snow conditions - the dreaded wind slab. Down several hundred feet on the other side we fought against the wind, climbing carefully across the treacherous snow. At one stage Gerry - 14 stone, plus heavy pack - got blown completely off the ground at the same time that Duncan got blown off his feet. Fortunately the slope was not very steep. Lower down the snow became firmer and we traversed along a snow shelf on the Haast Glacier. When we came to a rock spur (From the Dixion Ridge) which cut this shelf we were forced into a steep snow couloir. We belayed carefully down this section, climbing in the time between gusts of wind.
When a gust of wind came we would fall on our ice axes and hold on as the wind stung our faces with small particles of ice. The couloir ended over a cliff and we were forced to traverse loose rocks to gain further snow slopes above a large shrund. This lead us to easier slopes which we traversed to the Haast Ridge. The weather was now getting worse and we were glad to be down to the safety of the easier slopes. As we strolled down these we watched peculiar shaped clouds roll across the Tasman Valley. We soon reached Haast Hut (7,000 ft) and continued on down the scree and rubble of the Haast Ridge to the Tasman Glacier. Good time was made over the ice of the Tasman and we arrived at Ball Hut (3,600 ft) just in time to catch the bus back to the Hermitage.
Once you've settled the major items, it's the little things that make the difference.
Make sure you have the accessories of camping equipment etc. that make trips more enjoyable.
Paddy's list of little things:
Compass (Full range of Silva compasses available), Knife fork and spoon set, First Aid Kit, Blanket Pins, Guy Slides, Tent Pegs, Batteries, Torches, Torch Gloves, Rucksack Shoulder Pads, Meta Fuel, Esbit Fuel, Waterproof Matches, Carabiners, Shellite, Carbide, Abseil Slings, Baby Can Openers, Insect Repellent, Fly Veils, Sunburn Cream, Billy Lifters, Food bags, Food containers, Plastic bags, Pack liners, Inner Sheets (sleeping bag), Tent Cord, Iron on Tent patches, Club Magazines, Stoves, Cooking gear, Foods, Gas Cylinders, Tent Poles, Wind and Water Repellent Clothing, Thick wool socks, Water Buckets, Rain Hoods, L'weight Air Beds, Air Pillows, Boots, Volley OC's, Laces, Maps.
Make Paddy's your one stop camp gear shop.
1st Floor, 109a Bathurst Street, Sydney.
On arrival at the Park Headquarters, Mt. Cook, absolutely beat after a 1 a.m. start from Pioneer Hut, we were greeted with the news that an accident had occurred high on Mt. Jellicoe and a rescue party was being organised - we would go, wouldn't we? Of course we would help (“But I hope he does not mean now (6 p.m.)”) Phew - the arrangements were made to pick us and three others up at Unwin Hut at 3.45 a.m. next morning.
The accident occurred early Tuesday morning. A rope of three - two blokes and a girl - had left Empress Hut (8,400 ft.) to climb Mt. Jellicoe (9,400 ft.) About 200 ft. from the summit Gus and Bev were blown off their feet and started to proceed in a downward direction…. Fortunately they were held, but Bev sustained a bad leg and couldn't climb, Gus a sore skull. The other climber, Dave by name, made them comfortable - cup of tea, a BEX and a good lie down style - and then set off to sound the alarm by Park Board 2-way radio. By this time the weather was really bad - rain and mist and snow and wind and fog and foul weather as well. But Dave set off alone to return with sleeping bags for his friends.
About the same time a rescue party of six, headed by Jenkinson - of S.R.C. and Eli de Beaumont fame - set off up the Hooker Valley to Empress Hut. On arrival at Empress they surveyed the situation and realised that the face rescue equipment would probably be needed. This was stored near Christchurch and was rushed down to Mt. Cook by plane. Also lined up was a helicopter - a small, privately owned BELL type fitted with superchargers so that it could operate at 19,000 ft. and land comfortably at 10,000 ft. A second party was leaving Tuesday evening for Hooker Hut with food supplies. The third party was to leave on Wednesday morning with food and the winch gear.
Wednesday morning revealed that the reason Dave had not returned from the injured climbers was because he had fallen into a schrund and hurt his back - he lay there all night braving cold and snow and sleet. However Wednesday was fine but windy. Bruce Jenkinson led the first rescue party up to Dave, made him comfortable and then proceeded towards Gus and Bev. The helicopter tried to fly in a medical man and two others. However the wind was too fierce and they had to be set off about halfway to the rescue scene.
That afternoon an air drop was made by a Cessna flying 2,500 ft. above the neve of the Hooker Glacier. Unfortunately the stretcher and the tent went into the ice-fall but the food landed conveniently near the hut.
Late that afternoon things were really moving. Gus and Bev were lowered by cable to a more comfortable site and Dave was brought down to the neve by stretcher. Shortly after, the wind dropped and the helicopter came in and took him to hospital. Diagnosis was a broken back!
Twenty-three in a 6-bed hut meant somebody had to sleep outside that night. Fortunately it was fine.
Next morning Bruce Jenkinson and Jim Wilson (both Kiwis) took one casualty each on their backs and climbed down to the neve. Fixed ropes and other safety precautions were positioned but due to the crumbly nature of the wind-blown ice their value was somewhat doubtful. And then there was the rickety old snow bridge across the schrund.
Again the wind was low enough to permit the helicopter to come up the valley and carry them off to hospital. Injuries were - Bev a broken pelvis, Gus a broken scone.
As we made our way back to the Hermitage we were thankful that we didn't have to carry them out - it would have been sheer hell.
Back at the Hermitage we were met by bottles of beaut cold beer and a Park Ranger who drove us to the Hermitage for a beaut feed and then on to Unwin Hut for a beaut sleep. On Friday we caught the plane out for fear of being caught up in another rescue.
In retrospect, with vivid memories of the Kalang Falls rescue, there are only a few items which could be added to our own S.& R. methods:
In New Zealand the entire cost is borne by the Police Dept. who leave almost all organisation to the Park Rangers and the Federation of Mountain Clubs. Great emphasis is placed on the smooth planning of a rescue and a great deal of work was done by the rangers in organising equally-weighted loads of food and equipment well before each rescue party was due to leave. In fact, it took less than 15 minutes to get packed and moving.
Terrific emphasis is placed on the stomach. Their theory is that a bod needs fodder before working - and rescue means work.
Radios were used with great success. Sure, it's pretty well line of site and only a couple of hundred yards - but just try and carry on a conversation by shouting, and to climb could take an hour or two.
In conclusion, to those who have been to N.Z. and to those who will go - take your hat off to Bruce Jenkinson, he's a machine.
Sydney University Climbing Club plans a membership drive for Orientation week. Slides will be shown on the Monday morning, and a meeting will be held on the Tuesday night.
By Sir Nigel Egap.
In the course of a recent programme of research, it was discovered by chance, that there exists within our community, a number of persons who are, as a group, quite unique in our time, and I have of late engaged myself in the study and observation of their habits and characteristics. My findings I now place before you, and feel certain that you cannot but agree with me when I state that this matter is indeed worthy of considerable thought.
This group of people call themselves “bushwalkers”, but they also answer to a variety of other weird names. “Tramper”, “Walker,” “footslogger” and “bushie” are only a few of the titles given to the bushwalker. It is also worthy of note that the term “hiker”, when addressed to a bushwalker will be regarded as an insult and can be expected to be treated as such. Retaliatory action will almost certainly ensue.
They came from no one particular social class, nor is parentage a determining factor. The walker may be of either male or female sex and of any age. Indeed, without extremely close investigation bushwalkers could quite easily be mistaken for normal human beings. But the defining characteristics are present and to the expert are quite unmistakable.
It would appear that bushwalkers have one common purpose, and that is to spend their weekends, holidays, and indeed most of their spare time away in the wilderness, as far from the comforts and luxuries of our modern civilization but they completely disregard the benefits afforded by the technological and scientific advances of our day and age. All cooking is done over primitive campfires, and utensils are of the most rudimentary nature. It is barely conceivable that today there can exist such wanton disregard for modern conveniences like Porta-Gas stoves and Esky coolers.
All food is carried on the back of the walker in a pack or rucksack, in which clothing, bedding and shelter are also stowed. These rucksacks, which may be anything up to one hundred pounds in weight when full, present quite a ridiculous, and almost laughable sight to the observer, when seen on the back of the wearer.
Once equipped, and burdened down with the weight of the rucksack, the bushwalker will set out on foot to travel incredible distances along tracks or even across trackless terrain. Where there is no marked route, the way will be negotiated with the aid of appropriate maps and a compass, but in any case, the route is planned so as to steer clear of any semblance of civilization, which may account for the fact that these people are relatively unheard Of outside their own circles.
The categorizing of walks is something very difficult to comprehend, since the standard of comparison would appear to be the exact reverse of what would normally be expected. A good walk is one which is difficult, presents many hazards, inconveniences, and discomforts to the walkers. An excellent walk is one in which the walkers completely exhaust themselves and in which is included encounters with leeches, torrential rain, snowstorms, plagues of bushflies or swarms of mosquitoes.
Much time is consumed in discussing and affectionately analysing past walks, and in fact, a truly historic walk may be talked about for many years to come, and even after most of the participants have long since passed away. “Remember when” is the walkee's most-used phrase, and it can be heard to be flung about quite indiscriminately during the course of any conversation between two or more walkers. Some walkers do, in fact, spend more time “remembering when”, than actually walking. If a newcomer were to listen in to one of these “remember whens” he may be forgiven if he were to believe that the group was conversing in some foreign language, for the terms and expressions are themselves quite unique and used only by this clique. Terms like “Bluegum”, “Gangarangs”, “fleabag”, “Claustral”, “gazunda”, “scroggin”, and innumerable others apparently convey some secret meaning understood only by those knowledgeable of the code.
Quite a proportion of bushwalkers interest themselves in photography, but again they differ from the normal photographer. It has been said that Sydney is one of the most photogenic cities in the world, and local and visiting photographers can more than satisfy the appetite of their hobby with subjects as interesting and absorbing as the harbour bridge, opera house, Oriana, A.M.P. building, etc., but the bushwalker/photographer in his ignorance would seem to prefer to tramp for mile upon mile to snap flowers, birds, or something equally as ridiculous.
On the whole, bushwalkers could well be described as reactionary, and averse to any form of progress made in the interest, and for the benefit and pleasure of mankind. Utilization of our natural timber forests (otherwise being wasted), and the popularization of undeveloped beauty spots with roads and up-to-date amenities are causes condemned by these people without any thought to their potential as profit-makers, export-earners, and tourist attractions. They band together under the banner of protest with “Exploitation” as their catchword. Their dislike for true sportsmanship is displayed by their loud protests levelled unfairly against amateur and professional game-shooters, and indeed, if they had their own way, all huntsmen would be prevented altogether from indulging in this noble pasttime.
In conclusion I wish to say, and I am sure you will agree with me, that immediate remedial action must be taken if we are to avoid the consequences which would naturally ensue should the influence of these people spread. It is in contemplation of such consequences then, that I suggest that all bushwalkers, and all persons suspected of being sympathetic towards their principles and ideals, be rounded up and banished as a group from the mainland of Australia, and shipped to the most remote area of the island of Tasmania where they may be left to pursue their own purpose. At intervals of about three months large shipments of dehydrated vegetables could be airdropped to them, thus eliminating any further duty or obligation of our modern and civilized community towards them.
It is to be hoped that Ron Knightley will be in Sydney on March 16. For the second time he has been billed on the Social Programme under the title “Degenerating in North America”. It the time of going to press I believe he is again in North America so that by the 16th he will have degenerated still further.
Marie Byles is a name in the Club that is known to both new and old members. We are very fortunate to be having a visit from Marie on March 23. She will be presenting “Introducing the Japanese Alps” and concluding with “The Sacred Hills of Burma” where the feet of white man have never trod before.
We all know the skill that Don Read possesses both as a photographer and commentator. We remember his “Pilgrim's Way” with a great deal of satisfaction and look forward to his “Waterways of England” on March 30.
Four second hand sleeping bags. Please ring Patricia Todhunter on 841565.
For sale: one life membership in Illawong Ski Lodge with second preference booking rights in Albina, Roslyn, Perisher Huette, Falls Creek, Mt. Buller. Will transfer at £5 less than usual £35.
George Gray 86-6263.
With the Walks Secretary's permission there will be a series of ski weekends during the winter. There was one on the programme last winter; to fill a gap in an otherwise complete program. The time between the appearance of the program and the weekend was very short and a lot of people who showed interest were not able to make adequate plans in time. The weekend was possibly the last when the more accessible areas could be skied and the snow was certainly not the best. This year be prepared.
The weekends will be shown as three-day affairs because I have a three-day weekend once a month. Do not let this deter you. If you can only manage a two day trip and suitable transport can be arranged, come along. The trip down is very long, about seven or eight hours so ideally there should be at least two drivers in each car and you should leave as early as possible on Friday afternoon. You will need the car to take you from the camp at Sawpit to the snow. If there has been overnight snow, chains will be essential - you can go up later in the day when the ploughs and buses have slushed up the road but this is time wasted. Hire the chains before you go. Ski hire can be arranged at Smiggins. This saves carting very bulky skis in say a Mini but there can be delays at the snow while you wait in line to be fitted - the gear late in the season is not always the best. Paddy's Cooma store will stay open late on Friday nights, until around eleven or later if advised and skis can be returned late, after hours on Sunday or Monday. Paddy will return your deposit by post. If you can give Paddy, in Sydney, your normal shoe size and height it will facilitate matters. Boots are the most important item; poor or ill fitting ones can cripple you for the weekend. Make sure they fit comfortably over the thickness of socks you will be wearing and that they don't pinch the front of your shins. They are heavy and you can't move your heel as in normal walking, but this is normal and does not matter at the right time, when you are on skis. Cost of hiring last year was $2.50 a day for skis, boots and stocks, with a deposit of $10.00.
Waterproof pants are the only item of clothing you must have. Ordinary slacks can be waterproofed for 50 cents at a dry cleaners. Unless you are very flush or insist on being elegant at all times ski-pants aren't necessary. A wide elastic strap tacked on to go under the instep is advisable. It stops cold shins if the pants creep up and covers the socks. Socks should go under the cuffs - if they are outside the cuffs they get wet from the snow and, by capilliary attraction the water creeps down to your feet. Waterproof gloves are better than mittens and are advisable. Until you gain confidence you will be embracing the snow fairly often. Your seat will get wet if it is not waterproof and your hand will freeze while fixing bindings. Snow will brush off jumpers and parkas so these not be completely waterproof. Take say two more jumpers and warm shirts than you would on an ordinary winters walk, the same for socks and a warm cap or beanie. You won't be cold when you are skiing. Air mattresses are desirable but not essential; a hot water bottle helps. Sun glasses of some kind are essential, those with side guards are the best. I like straight lenses, snow goggles with their curved lenses give me the feeling that I am skiing in a hole. This has a disastrous effect on my balance. Check if you are affected in this way before you buy a pair. Sunburn cream is also a must.
If you are as fit as most normal walkers you won't have too many aches from skiing. You can't be going on the lifts the first weekend so all your uphill is from your own efforts. If you can do push-ups they will help strengthen your upper arms for side stepping and herring bone. The only other muscle groups to come in for some agony are those around the ankle and shin. The muscle and tendon above the heel are extended and those along the shin are compressed in the “forward lean” position. When you walk normally your heel leaves the ground first. Your skis prevent this. Exercise by standing barefoot, facing a wall, feet together. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees until they touch the wall; don't lift your heel. Watch out - it hurts.
The pattern of instruction followed is the New Austrian Ski Technique. This is now universally taught by professional instructors so that if skiing is for you it is possible to carry straight on from the instruction you will receive. Skiing books are notoriously bewildering. The Austrian book is somewhat less difficult in that the technique of ski is reduced to a graceful austerity based on “linked traverses”.
“What are linked traverses?”
On a slope there are two basic directions - along the contour which brings your skis horizontal; and the fall line at right angles to the contour and which is the fastest way down the slope. When your skis are on the traverse it is as though you were standing on a step; for comfort and ease your upper foot would be forward with the knee slightly bent and most of your body weight would be on the lower foot. Both feet will be horizontal. Try this on the nearest step. If your skis lie on the snow surface your feet will not be horizontal so bite the upper edges of the skis into the snow until your feet are flat. Your knees will now point uphill altering the centre of gravity of the system.. With knees uphill turn your body towards the valley and lean out towards the valley until you feel an easy balance over the skis. Push off with your stocks and you are skiing traverses. In one direction. If you lean out further your skis will swing uphill and you will slow down. If you lean uphill your skis will swing downhill. Oh, bitter day, and you will end up in the fall line going faster, And faster.
Obviously then, the fall line is the critical obstacle. You can't traverse in the one direction all day - you run out of slope and snow. The simplicity of the Austrian system is that to turn onto the other traverse you place your body in the position you will take up when you get onto the other traverse, lean uphill and your momentum will carry you round, clean across the fall line onto the next traverse.
Step this way for your thirty dollar ski pants. Last year 12 out of 14 new recruits could master all the steps leading to linked traverses in one three-day weekend. They were safe on the snow and could improve from there on. There wasn't a muscle strain in the whole lot.
In fact, why sleep out at all? Most of us, surely, rejoice in good beds at home. However, Bushwalkers being what they are, cursed with the instincts but not blessed with the physique of nomads, some sort of covering must be devised to protect them during the night hours. The problem arises how to combine the greatest possible shelter with the least possible weight.
Tents, it would seem, have always been a thorn in the side of wandering humanity. Glancing through the pages of history, we find King David declaring bitterly - doubtless after a night in a leaky camp - that he would rather eke out a miserable existence in a church porch than dwell in a tent.
Shakespeare likewise seems to have had a rough spin under canvas and refers to 'the tent that searches to the bottom of the worst' - meaning either that drove him to the depths of despair or that the whole tottering structure sank in the mud.
Then we all know the nineteenth century gentleman who had such trouble with his moving (i.e. collapsing) tent that he had to pitch it afresh each night.
All this of course was in the bad old days before a Real Tent Maker - breathe his initials, pp - brought comfort to mankind. The most successful of his predecessors appears to have been a Mr. O. Jacob. Many years B.C. one Balaam, most known in connection with an ass, exclaimed ecstatically: “How goodly are thy tents, O. Jacob!” thereby establishing that tentmaker's reputation forever.
Omar, of course, made tents: and see how subtly that profession warped his mental outlook. A sceptic: a cynic. Aren't we all, where tents are concerned?
To make the best of a bad job, why not dispense with the tent and use a waterproof sleeping-bag instead? The hardy trampers in New Zealand, that moist but lovely land, sleep thus unscathed. The bag, complete with hood and furnished with eyelets for lashing the opening together, accommodates self and pack. Its advantages are many. Its weight, 1 1/2 lbs. surely compares favourably with that of any tent. One is assured of the utmost privacy, retiring like a snail into the shell. It is essentially a one-man affair; sharing is impossible. One can wear it by the campfire and keep the draught off the spine, and during the night it can be turned lightly and easily to catch, or avoid, the prevailing wind. Again, sack-racers find it invaluable. “But what” the carping critic asks, “About disrobing for the night?” With the well-trained camper this difficulty does not arise. He sleeps in everything he has with him.
Finally, the bag, unlike the tent, is simple to fold. One often hears it said “they fold their tents like the Arabs” - but how do the Arabs fold their tents? The accepted method is to take one corner in the left teeth (all Bush Walkers should see that they have a few left) and rotate rapidly in a clockwise direction, shouting in a loud voice and at stated intervals: “Abracadabra!” The result will be either strangulation or success.