Saturday, 30 May 2015

A new post

A little while back, I reread Into Thin Air. An awesome book the author wrote about his experience in the 1996 Everest storm. When I saw the list of people in Rob Hall's team (Rob Hall was the guide the author of Into Thin Air climbed with, and the leader of the team that suffered the worst of the storm), I noticed the only Australian in the team was Mike Groom, a guide who was with a group of people who got lost on the South Col (see the last article to find out where that is). Amazingly, Groom made it through the night, which involved negative 100 degrees wind chill, without losing any of his fingers. This made him and another climber the only two in Hall's eleven person team who reached the top of Everest and climbed down successfully.

I was pretty interested in this, because it is very rare for Australians to become real mountain climbers, and only three I know about have ever become guides. It turns out that Groom has climbed the five highest mountains in the world without supplemental oxygen, four of which he climbed missing the front third of both feet. That's more Himalayan experience than any other Australian I know.

I was interested in this because. . . it's probably best to wait for me to get more serious before I say much about it. . . let's just say I'm going to try and complete a specific mountain climbing challenge when I'm older and I want to meet and talk to some Australian mountaineers. It's pretty hard to find Australian mountain guides, but I found three. One lives in Adelaide, a two day's drive from Sydney. I don't know where another one lives. Mike Groom, however, lives in Brisbane. I'm moving there in about a month.

There are not many Australian mountain climbers because the country is so low. And why is it so low and so flat? Some people actually suspect it might be glaciers! Anyway, the highest mountains in Australia are a southern part of a highly eroded mountain range known as the Great Dividing Range. Although low, the mountains in the range, particularly the Blue Mountains, can be impossible to get far into by road due to rugged terrain and steep cliffs everywhere. That Australia does not have snow is a myth, because of the snow that gathers on mountains around Mount Kosciuszko all year round. In Tasmania, an island in the south of Australia, snow can fall any time of the year, and not just in the mountains. A very unique aspect of Australian mountains is the tree line at 800 to 1200 meters.

A list of Australian mountain ranges and their highest points:

Western Wilderness, Tasmania, Mt. Ossa 1617 meters. Tree line 800 meters.

Grampians, Victoria, Mt. William 1167 meters. The eroded remnants of the Great Dividing Range southwestern end.

Snowy Mountains, New South Wales and Victoria, Mount Kosciuszko 2228 meters. Highest and largest mountain range.

Budawangs, New South Wales, Mount Budawang 1129 meters. Fairly new coastal range.

Blue Mountains, Mount Piddington, 1094 meters. Mostly gorges and cliffs, not mountains.

New England Tableland, Mount Banda Banda, 1258 meters. A rainforest area.

Daintree Rainforest, Mount Bartle Frere, 1622 meters.

As you can see, there really aren't any training opportunities in Australia for mountaineers. Most do their training in New Zealand.

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