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September 2017 Issue
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Pigeon Post, September 2017

Our winning correspondent receives this Namtso T from

Letter of the month

Courage in turning back

After reading Shaun Barnett’s article, ‘Into the Forgotten’ (August 2017), I wanted to applaud the courage it took for Barnett to both share with his group the concerns he had about the crux of their route to the Olivine Ice Plateau, and the ultimate decision he made to not carry on.

Most trampers and mountaineers know that ‘gut feeling’ you get when viewing a suspect route – for me it’s a combination of both awe and fear.

What I learnt from Barnett’s article is that truly experienced and inspirational trampers and climbers are able to openly share with others their thoughts and concerns regardless of their reservations about how they might be perceived by others. I will not forget this article when I inevitably face my next ‘crux’.

At the end of the article, Barnett wrote: “Earlier, I’d felt like a failure, but now that feeling had faded.” From my point of view, what he wrote was the most successful article I have read about teaching other trampers and climbers on how to keep safe and alive in the amazingly beautiful and rugged wilderness we are privileged to visit.

– Michael Meehan, Christchurch

– Michael receives a Peak to Plateau Namtso Tee SS worth $120 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Have stove, won’t travel

In response to Brian Dobbie who had to dispose of his MSR fuel bottle at Queenstown Airport  (‘Stoves need airline approval’, August 2017), as a retired employee of Air New Zealand and keen tramper I have travelled several times with the airline for backpacking trips and know that you must comply with the regulations on carrying dangerous goods.

I’m sure Dobbie would have cleaned his bottle thoroughly, but from my experience it is not worth the risk and I always leave my gas bottles or fuel bottle behind and buy what I need at my destination.

The danger of fuel or gas leaking into a freight compartment on an aircraft is not worth risking as the consequences could be disastrous for all on board the aircraft.

– Ian Fussell, Christchurch

Boiling water

In regards to the article ‘Boil or toil and trouble’ (July 2017), I was always under the impression that you had to boil water for at least three minutes to ensure killing off any lurgies. But I have never seen anyone boil water for this long.

Most modern gas cookers will bring a litre of water to the boil in around that time and most multi-day trampers will be mindful of conserving gas rather than wasting it by evaporating steam. Are most contaminant microbes destroyed just by bringing water to the boil?

After surviving the Christchurch earthquakes, I was instructed to boil or treat water during quite a long period. One method conveyed to us by the authorities was to treat drinking water with Janola, 5ml to 20 litres, if I remember correctly, which is not very much and it certainly didn’t taint the water. Not surprisingly, in this situation when everyone is on edge, supermarket shelves throughout the city were stripped of Janola.

Would a small bottle of Janola be worth taking on a tramping trip as an effective means of treating water for microbes please?

– John Barrett, Christchurch

– Dr Rob Davies-Colley from NIWA says chlorine can be used, but better would be hydrogen peroxide – 2ml per 3.7-litres of water.

To Dad

After a recent tramp on the Hollyford Track, my daughter, Diana Austin, wrote me this poem. I thought Wilderness dads might like to read it.

At 80 Dad you are far from spent,
For another tramp you were hell bent.
Off to the Hollyford it was decided,
Although anywhere you would not have minded.

A passion for tramping you have installed,
The bush, rivers and mountains now have me enthralled.
When I was 10 and you were 40 we camped in a red pup tent,
To the far yonder of the farm paddocks we went.

By 20 and 50 we had conquered many a South Island track,
You had set the family up with skills of the bush and how to carry a good sized pack.
Crispy bacon, billy tea and dehydrated peas,
The family adventures are lasting memories.

At 30 arthritis had hit me bad,
But at 60 you knew more life was to be had.
You funded a fancy cool drug,
And once again a pack I could lug.

At 40 and 70 we had three generations wanting to tramp,
Bealey Spur and Hawdon Valley have our stamp.
Into the cold mountain streams our bodies sank,
The strong legacy of tramping has you to thank.

So at 50 and 80 we had our Hollyford adventure,
Father and daughter selfie moments we did capture.
You may have thought your pack was heavy and your pace that of a young man,
But one thing for sure you inspired us all, there is always room for another tramp in life’s plan.

– Rod Miller


In the July issue review of insulated jackets, we reviewed the Morph jacket by The North Face. However, we incorrectly referred to this jacket as the Polymorph. The Morph jacket is part of TNF’s Progressor alpine layering collection.