Mt Aspiring – 17th Jan 2020

An epic mish with Lachlan.

Leaving after work we made our way to Pearl Flat, where we camped the night.

Next day we ventured to Colin Todd via Bevan Col.

On the third day we made our way up the Kangaroo Patch and climbed the buttress to summit. We descended the same route, all the way to the car (starting at 4.30am and reaching the car at 6ish pm. We were back in Queenstown that night, a very successful trip.

17 jan 2020 Aspring from Bevan Col
Bevan Col 17th Jan 2020.
Colin Todd
Colin Todd Hut.
Lachie top of ramp - not the route we climbed
On the NW Ridge, just above the ramp.
on top
Summit Mt Aspiring, 17th Jan 2020.
Pitching to get around some steep snow slopes. A better option would be to climb the buttress more directly in these conditions.
Decding bev col
Descending Bevan Col.
Raping bev slabs
Rapelling the Bevan Slabs.
Stoked with the mission, Bevan Slabs.
Back at the car… Xtream! haha

Mt Earnslaw and O’Leary Peak- Trailpinism

A blast up Mt Earnslaw with Tom Spencer 14th February 2020.

Above inversion Earnslaw
Breaching the inversion layer above Kea Basin.
on the Birley
Onto the snow slopes that make up the nearly non-existent Birley Glacier.
Looking to Sir William Grant
On top of Earnslaws East Peak.
Looking to West Peak
Earnslaw West Peak (from East Peak)
pano top Earnslaw
A panorama from the summit of East Peak.
Stoked on Summit Earnie
Tom on top!


Tasman Glacier – My first trip to Tasman Saddle

In September 2019 Leif and I had booked a week off work. We had this time locked in nearly 6 months in advance and were amazingly lucky to find this window lined up perfectly with the best 4 days of weather of the season.

We decided to head into the Tasman Glacier and stay at Tasman Saddle Hut.

Gear first Tas ski trip
Some of the ‘Hardwear’ used on the trip.
Loading ski plane tas first trip
Loading the small ski plane
Malte Brun?
Malt Brun from the ski plane.
Mt Hamilton on right
Looking up the Darwin, Hamilton on the right.
Landed. Near Tasman Saddle.
Elie De Beaumont from Hochstetter
On top of Hochstetter Dome (Elie De Beaumont behind).
Looking at Cook
The views! (top of Darwin Bowls looking at Mt Cook).
Views of Eli (right) and Mt Green (left).
Looking into the Murchison.
The Murchison.
Tasman Saddle Hut – looking towards Elie
Skiing through the seracs.
On top of Hochstetter Dome (Elie De Beaumont behind).
On top of Hochstetter Dome.
Dress shirts at Darwin Cnr
Ready for out heli pick-up Darwin Corner.
Toilet Views
Tas Saddle Toilet Views.

Mt Aspiring in a day

On the 1st of March 2020 Rose Pearson, Alastair McDowell and I set out to climb Mt Aspiring in a single day, “trailpinism” style (super light and fast, running and “power hiking”).

An epic day in the mountains that took us 11hrs and 50min car to car from Raspberry Flat… possibly the fastest known time for this mountain.

Three Days in China -Jiangjin Simian Mountain Quest 2017

After a great season of China racing we believed things had wrapped up and summer racing in NZ would be next on the cards, but it turned out that China had one more race left for us! Awesome!

Due to work commitments and busy schedules we decided to make this a whirlwind “in and out” mission…

We flew into china the day before our race, jumped on a bus and did the 4hr drive from Chongqing to the race venue, near Simian mountain. This area was beautiful! Lush forest and clean water, topped off with fresh autumn air! It was a great looking race venue.

Arriving at around mid day, the day before the race, meant we had to get into race prep straight away. We built bikes, sorted nutrition and fluid and soon we’re being driven around the course on crazy oversized golf carts. These things hussled along and we zoomed from transition to transition, stashing gear in allocated spots for the next day. As can often be the case in China there was quite a bit of confusion during this prep stage. We had brought our own paddles and PFDs from NZ and it was very unclear where we should put them… or if we could use them at all… eventually after much discussion it was decided that we could not use this kit… something that would have been great to know before we lugged it all the way to China! Ohh well.

Transitions all packed up we jumped back on our speedy golf cart. In contrast to our usual China experiences we began to get really cold on this ride back to the hotel! It was fresh! We were stoked to get back inside and into some warm kit, with the golf cart now officially referred to as the “Ice Train”.

A quick meal was a welcome breather. Checking messages Sam discovered that we had been invited to race another event on the Sunday (day after our race) in Chongqing. It was a stair challenge – 72 flights up a skyscraper! A quick chat amongst the team and it was decided that we might as well have a crack! This was turning into a pretty cool (and efficient) trip!

Race briefing was next. This was a confusing affair, with some vague rules announced about towing… it seemed that towing was not allowed. We were amazed. It would make the event a race of the girls… with the guys doing what they could to draft / feed / look after the girl. Interesting…

We discussed this with other teams, our translator and even the race director. Many people were saying that it was ok to pull and push but not use a tow line. The race director just said “there is no towing, the rules are clear”… we were still confused. But yip, it sounded like we would be supporting, but not towing Simone through this one?


Race day dawned and after another awesome over hyped, fireworks, dancing, jamming music festival of an opening ceremony we were on the line and ready to race.

A 5k run leg was first and as soon as the gun went off teams began to work together pulling shirts and pushing each other – towing!!?

We were pretty frustrated! Our main rival employed the same method, as we tried to keep to what we thought were the “rules” and not pull Simone… it was madness! As the lead team pulled away we began discussing what to do… should we tow and risk a penalty? Or just stick to what we understood were the rules… it got to a point when we thought “stuff this” might as well be competitive and maybe we’ve got it wrong! Maybe our translation of towing is different to that of the race directors? Maybe grabbing the shirt of the person in front and being dragged isn’t being towed in his mind? I’m still a bit perplexed on this one. But hey, it is what it is and interpretation of the rules can be very frustrating in China.

So we towed (we pushed, or Simone pulled) but no “tow lines” were used – and no penalties were issued.

The first run was followed by an uphill mountain bike on a lovely bush clad hillside, then it was straight into the kayaks (barges) for a short 3.5km along a narrow damned river. We were roughly 200m behind the leaders and during the first half of the paddle this dropped to about 100m. This gap seemed to hold until we exited the boat.


A short run followed and then it was onto the SUP paddle stage. This was a new one for China racing and it was actually quite fun! It was 2 people per board, so balance was a challenge and we opted for a kneeling stance. The gap seemed to hold steady on the paddle, now about 300m after the run leg.

Exiting the SUP we had a fast and furious down hill run to the finish. This was only 5k and we knew our chances of catching the team ahead were very slim. None the less we pushed on and finished strong, 1 min 20 sec behind first place and a race time of about 1hr 20min.



A fun few hours were spent soaking up the atmosphere and chatting with friends, before the prize giving commenced. The backdrop was spectacular, with a massive waterfall dominating the scene.



After prize giving we were straight into pack up mode. Sam and Marcel volunteered to board the “ice train” and collect the teams transition gear. The poor boys were out much longer than expected and came beck ready for a well deserved feed. Packing all finished we boarded a bus and headed straight to Chongqing airport. We arrived around 9pm, deposited our bikes in luggage storage and then taxied back into the city, pausing shortly only for a subway sandwich and to book a hotel near the stair challenge building.

Waking up the next morning we were stoked to find our hotel was within 5min of the stair race. We registered and then milled around, warmed up and then gave it death for 13min as we powered our way to the top of the building. I wish I had my HR monitor on for this one as the stats would have been great. hR max for the whole time I’d say! Man that hurt. We thought we had done really well and we’re confident of being first or second… it turns out that there were some speed merchants there however and we had to settle for 5th. A fun hit out and a great way to spend the morning.


From there we kicked around in Chongqing, enjoying cafe stops, and being tourists for a bit. Soon it was time to head to the airport, with our departure just after midnight.

Job done! An awesome whirlwind trip, with two races packed into two days and a total of 3 days on the ground in china. Epic!

A big thank you to my sponsors who allow me to keep chasing these races, particularly Around The Basin for the time off work. Cheers!

Around the Basin Bike Tours Circle Logo (1)
HILLARY_BLACK+copyt7 close cut

Wengan Outdoor Challenge 2017

After Tai’an Mountain Challenge we traveled straight to Wengan and enjoyed a short break ~ 7 days of movies and light training duties. We made the most of our time by going back to Wengan Number 2 School and delivering a guest lecture. It was great to take along a few more athletes this year and we had some fun – fielding some bizarre questions, many of which were requests for hugs, if we could sing them a song or give out our WeChat details… random!

Anyhow, back to racing …

Day 1

The opening leg of the race was quite a different one! Each team was given 2 x 20kg baskets that had to be worn like a backpack for the first 3km of the run leg. This was tough!

We worked hard here and were happy to finish the leg in second, a few hundred metres behind Purao. Dropping the baskets we still had another 4 or so km to run before transitioning onto the bikes.

We came into the TA less than 30 seconds behind Purao.

Onto the bike we were suprised to come across Purao on the first hill. It looked like they had got a flat tire.

We kept the hammer down and worked hard. A glance behind on a climb revieled the field was all quite close still.

It had been wet the few days before the race and soon we found the mud. It was thick and nasty! But also a bit of fun.

Off the bike we were back running. We had slipped back to second, with Purao showing their class, and catching us on the ride.

We ran hard, but were passed by a flying Chinese team (Koosa) on a technical downhill section. These guys are technically talented! We continued pushing until we came to a stop clock section where we were able to prepare for a zip line traverse. Here we could catch our breath. The top 3/4 teams all regrouped briefly before we were released at intervals.

We charged over the zip line and then it was just a short uphill run to the finish. I think this was the hardest section for me from the past 3 events, after feeling strong all day and in great condition I just felt buggered on this leg!

So a tough finish for me, but we had done well and worked really hard as a team. We had all left it on the course and for the day we were 3rd. A good start.

Day 2

This one was a biggie!

A staggered start on the Mtb meant we were able to find our rhythm. Pretty soon the top 4 teams (Purao, NZ Adventure and Koosa) we all bunched up. The mud was terrible today and clogged wheels and drive trains. It was messy! We had a few issues with a bike that broke our rhythm a bit, but we made the TA in 3rd, behind Purao and NZ Adventure respectively.

The next leg was a biathlon, two athletes ride, while the other two run. We did really well here and made our way to the front where we tussled with Purao all the way into the next transition.

Then we had a rather large 27km kayak to contend with… a mad transition saw both  our teams enter the boats together. We made a train and had turns on the front. We tried to break away once or twice, but it was hard to coordinate or movements as well as get a gap… the double sea kayaks we were using put out a decent wash and it’s hard to shake someone from this. We settled back into taking turns, resigned to the fact we would transition together. This was a long leg. Before the end, at about the 24k mark we were joined by NZ Adventure, who had paddled hard to catch up. ​

​Out of the boats was an 11km run to the finish.

Purao pulled away slowly on the first climb and NZ Adventure were nowhere to be seen, taking awhile to transition. We flogged it on this stage, trying hard to catch Purao or at least minimise the gap. Punching into the finish we were stoked to be 2nd and only a min behind Purao for the stage.

Overall we were sitting second with about 10 min to Purao in 1st and 15 back to NZ Adventure.

Day 3 

The last day of racing for the tour and I was feeling the pain! The body was pretty dam sore.

The first leg was a 5k downhill run to the boats. This was quick, real quick and hard on tired legs.

It was great to get into the boat and start the paddle. The start had been staggered and we had held our position (2nd) and could see Purao not far ahead. We paddled hard, and appeared to close the gap ever so slightly. Next up was an abseil which only one person had to do. Sam was the man for the  job and we dropped him off on the shore where he had a painful 180m climb followed by an insane abseil of equal height! I was happy chilling in the boat, as we waited and cheered for Sam. Welcome respite and a chance to feed and hydrate for the rest of the day.

7 more k of paddling and then a punchy run climbing for 5 k took us to the bikes. We now appeared to be solidly in second for the stage, it was looking good. The bike was hot, we were tired and working hard. It took longer than expected to reach the TA, but from here only a 4K orienteering section stood between us and the finish.

This leg sucked!! We butchered it royally. The coordinates we were given were not in any particular order and could be collected in any succession. We gambled that the list would still be in some sort of order and we rushed off to the “first CP”. As we ran practically back to the start to collect the “2nd” CP we realised we’d stuffed up. It was shit. We had doubled back, from the flat to a hill top and then back up the hill again for “CP 3”. Learning was happening and it hurt. We had been passed by 2 teams and it was gutting!

We climbed a cargo net and then scaled a wall. 4th for the day, which should have been 2nd. Ohh well another lesson learnt and we now know how to deal with these legs in the future.

Thankfully our mistake didn’t cost us any time overall and we still secured 2nd overall, with a good gap back to 3rd.

So all in all a very successful trip and one we can be proud of.

Cheers team!