Track Talk – May/June 2010

Leadership Instruction Weekend
Our new leaders are ready for action (photo: Snaiet Shalav)

In March I did a Mountain Safety Council river-crossing course, where we threw ourselves into some Hutt River rapids and attempted to exit using a combination of pack floating and limb thrashing. It was one of those courses where your confidence is strengthened through knowing that you’re already doing basically the right things. Rivers are the most dangerous obstacle we face in the back country, and it’s always worth honing these skills.

The club’s had a real focus on instruction in the past month. At the end of April, 15 people completed an Outdoor First Aid course at Brookfields Scout Camp in Wainuiomata. We heard plenty of theory from our excellent instructor, Kate Nickson of First Aid Consultants Ltd, along with fascinating examples from her experiences as a paramedic and in the outdoors, and we treated many gruesome mock injuries. Thanks to Steve Austin, who coordinated the weekend and introduced participants to a game that shall remain nameless but included significant amounts of humming, gesticulation and blind-folded drawing.

If you’re keen to improve your first aid skills, but don’t want to wait till the next club course in 2011, consider doing the MSC’s Outdoor First Aid course scheduled for 27-29 August, which has a cost of $200. More info can be found at

In mid May, we ran a leadership instruction weekend at Camp Wainui. Eleven would-be leaders heard about trip planning and organisation, leadership styles, risk management, navigation, SAR, weather and cooking from a variety of instructors. Plenty of time was also given over to role-playing scenarios (lost punters, injuries and personality clashes all played their part). A surprise scenario also saw instructors hiding in bushes with various injuries, waiting for our proto-leaders to figure out what was going on and find us. Some impressive spontaneous organisation saw a search that any tramping club would be proud of. Thanks heaps to Sue Walsh for coordinating the weekend, and to Steve Austin and Melissa Hewson for backing her up, as well as guest instructors Ray Walker, Wayne Stevens and Stacey Dravitzki. Steve again also helpfully provided some “entertainment”.

We’ve also been talking about navigation and the need to get out and practice those compass skills. For example, last month Tony Gazley lead a group (coordinated by Megan Sety) into the Waingawa area to develop their compass and navigation skills; they enjoyed the experience so much a repeat is being planned. If you’re keen to learn more about navigation, please drop me an email, and we’ll see what we can sort out. Similarly if you’re interested in leading navigation-focused tramps or daywalks, please get in touch.

Steve Kohler and fly
Steve Kohler and fly

Always carrying some form of shelter is key part of our club ethos (and can remove some of the anxiety when navigating!). Steve Kohler is offering a workshop on making a one-person fly, having previously developed and trialled a successful design (see pic left). The cost would be about $80 for all materials and venue hire, with the chance construct your own fly weighing only 400g. Steve reserves the right to limit numbers – and you can choose any colour as long as it’s olive. See the notice on the website forum or drop an email to .

To help support our leaders, Melissa and I are holding a regular forum, before club on the last Wednesday of the month at the Embassy cafe, where you can run though any questions or spread out maps and talk route details. Watch out for an email invite if you’re leading a trip in the following month, or feel free to just turn up.

Talking about navigation and risk management often leads to thoughts of what can go wrong. At the May committee meeting, we decided to donate $500 to the Life Flight Trust (which includes the Westpac Rescue Helicopter) for its annual appeal.

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