Ah June, the first month of winter and the beginning of my favourite outdoors season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no masochist who relishes the punishing, often debilitating cold that is on its way. I’m actually a walking talking contradiction when it comes to winter. There’re few things I hate worse than numb fingers and sleepless nights in the tent trying to stay warm. Find me in a blizzard and I’ll be the first to say ‘let’s get the hell out of here’. But on the flip side of that coin there are few things I love more than exploring a winter wonderland covered in a blanket of snow.
Give me a sunny winter day, trudging through snow and strapping on crampons any day of the week over a similarly sunny day in summer.
I’m not entirely sure why, but my best experiences in the outdoors have been in winter: climbing Taranaki, camping on Ruapehu, snowshoeing Mt Tongariro, tramping in Oxford Forest, camping above the Hooker Glacier.
These landscapes are dramatic at any time of year, but in winter they are doubly so.
As outdoors people we all like to push ourselves from time to time, expanding the type of trips we do. I think if I were to examine my motivations properly, that would be the main appeal for me of winter trips: doing something slightly outside my comfort zone.
Getting the right skills is important. I’ve been on a couple of courses which is why I feel confident enough to enjoy alpine areas in winter. Recently, Dan Slater did just that and he chronicles his journey from tramper to climber on p30. He learnt the ropes – figuratively and literally – and now reckons ‘a whole new world of verticality’ has opened up to him. His bucket-list just doubled.
Of course, it’s not just about bucket-lists. Most people have so many trips on their wish list that they have no hope of ever completing them all. It’s about getting out there – as the strapline on the cover of this magazine proclaims: knowing more, doing more, living more.
This winter I hope you won’t pack your gear away, but if you do why not think about getting yourself skilled up so that when next winter rolls around you can strap on your crampons and head into the hills.
– Alistair Hall