NZSF-1 update from Down Under
Spring is upon us in New Zealand with the flowers blooming, the sun (intermittently) shining and the lambs bouncing in the paddocks. Our first two semester switches are underway, with NZSF-1 just starting their kayak section and NZSF-2 just finishing theirs. (More updates about NZSF-2 in a couple days, once they come through the branch and we can get a few pictures!)
NZSF-1 hiked 38.5 km during its 21 days of mountaineering. The course consisted of 10 students, 2 instructors and 1 aide. They traveled throughout the Arrowsmiths Range, starting at the Potts River, crossing to the South Branch of the Ashburton River and finally ending up in Cameron River drainage. The course had 3 ration periods of 6, 7 and 9 days with each of the two rerations provided by helicopter. The group experienced the full gamut of mountain weather: hot and sunny, cold and rainy, snow, 100 km/hour winds and whiteout conditions. Students traveled over a variety of terrain including tussocks, scree fields, boulder fields, high passes, snow and glaciers as well as crossing several small rivers. An extensive curriculum was covered including outdoor skills (cooking, Leave No Trace, campsite selection, etc.), mountaineering skills (knots, rope coiling, glacier travel, self arrest, avalanche beacon use, etc.) and environmental studies (current NZ land management issues, local plants, glaciology, etc.) Significant events included summiting a peak, camping on the Ashburton Glacier and hunkering and cowering in the multiple storms. Everybody completed the section in good spirits, healthy and injury-free.
The students came to the branch in Christchurch to meet their Kayak instructors and to swap gear. It was a quick visit -- not even 24 hours -- and then they were off to the Marlborough Sounds.