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A New Year, New Courses and Expeditions!

Posted on Saturday 19th December, 2015


Well it’s been a long time since I have written a blog post and I would like to reflect on 2015 and update everyone on plans for courses and expeditions in 2016. Firstly, when I look back on 2015 and my biggest achievements, I would have to say that starting my own business and getting through the Everest sized mountain of paperwork to do so, was my greatest accomplishment. It took months of work, not just to set my business up but to write all my procedures and risk management strategies etc to gain my insurance and the licenses needed to work in the National Parks and Council lands here in the Blue Mountains and in the Snowy Mountains. I never thought I would get there but just kept plugging away at it while working as a trainer at TAFE, my main source of income for the last 10 years. Fortunately, coming from a background of employment in the Outdoor Recreation department, I am accustomed to writing these sorts of documents, so thankfully I eventually got through it. Not that it actually ever ends! Of course as you would imagine, I am way more in my comfort zone in the outdoors hanging out on a cliff face and instructing people than I am behind a computer. However, like so many big goals in life sometimes you just have to suck it up and get on with it. No one has ever said starting your own business was easy!

The highlights since beginning Allie Pepper Adventures have not been the times spent at the lap top but finally getting out and spending time in amazing places with enthusiastic and motivated people. This is what makes all the paperwork worthwhile. I love working in my ‘outdoor office’ and teaching what I am passionate about to people that are keen to learn new skills. Here are a few snaps (in case you don’t follow my Facebook page) from some of the 2015 expedition training weekends in the Blue Mountains and mountaineering courses in the Snowy Mountains, so many great times were had!


Practising using crampons and axes on a steep snow climb above Thredbo.


Our North Face expedition tent and snow camp in the Ramsheads.


Abseiling training on the basic training weekend at the Narrow Neck, Katoomba.


Ice climbing at Blue Lake in the Snowy Mountains.

The summit of North Ramshead

The summit of North Ramshead after a short snow climb.


Top rope climbing at Mt York in Mt Victoria on the basic training weekend.


Completing the multi pitch abseil Malatia Wall in Katoomba, Jenna belaying Sharon.

Half way up the two pitch climb Sweet Irish Mt Boyce, Blackheath on the advanced training weekend.

Half way up the two pitch climb Sweet Irish Mt Boyce, Blackheath on the advanced training weekend.

At the end of the year my husband and I had a month holiday in Canada in the Rocky Mountains and we have just got back. It was super cold but also amazing. The mountains were so beautiful and I got some great skiing in at Lake Louise including a fantastic ski tour. We spent the whole month mostly climbing ice in lots of different locations. I have done a lot of rock climbing and alpine climbing but not so much pure waterfall ice climbing and it was one of the hardest things I have done. Well ok, climbing 8000m mountains isn’t easy but ice climbing was way harder than I expected it to be! It took me quite a long time to get into the swing of it, literally as it helps to be able to swing your tools properly! At first my left tool just bounced off the ice over and over and I couldn’t even hit it in! Anyway I persisted and as it was early season it was often tough conditions. We had around two weeks where temperatures were around -20 everyday. It hurts climbing ice when its that cold and the screaming barfies are a common occurrence. This is when your hands hurt so much you want to scream and vomit at the same time, or cry.

In our last week the temperature rose to a balmy -5 to -10 degrees and it was bliss. I finally got it and starting leading steep ice as something clicked and it all came together. A combination of the temperature rising, my arms getting stronger, my swing getting better but mostly my head being able to cope with the fact that you can’t fall. So once again it was a really hard process, just like my paperwork, but I knew I wanted to do it so I persisted even though it was way out of my comfort zone. In the end I felt such a sense of achievement. As I have always said the greatest rewards come with the biggest challenges and I felt so good at the end of our trip to achieve a good base for ice climbing now. Alpine climbing will hopefully now seem so much easier!! You mean the ice isn’t running with water or so hard you can’t swing your pick in or so brittle it just falls off in one big dinner plate? Awesome!


Start of our holiday and practising some technique on a steep pillar of ice.


Having a go at climbing up some ice that doesn’t reach the ground at Cline River, WI5.


Finally getting the confidence to take on the sharp end of the rope at the Waterworks.


Haffner Creek.


Belaying Nathan who is high up on Isaacs Wet Dream near Nordegg.

Skiing Lake Louise

Looking down the 800m long slope to Lake Louise from Surprise Pass, feeling nervous!


As physical training for that trip I completed an 8 week training program by Mountain Athletics. It’s an app that can be downloaded onto a smart phone and is made by The North Face. I completed the alpine training program which was a great base for the ski touring and climbing we did. I now realise though I needed to add chin ups specifically for the ice climbing.

I would like to take this opportunity to the thank The North Face as they have been so supportive of my adventures over the years and also of my business now. I used the North Face Shadow 40 pack when I was ice climbing and the Leonidas Gore Tex and Quince down jackets. All of these performed really well and both the jackets worked perfectly together and as they are designed for climbing. The gore tex has a hood that fits over a helmet and is super stretchy so you can wear it under a harness and still lift your arms up high. The Quince jacket doesn’t ride up when your arms are above your head either making it also able to tuck in to a harness. Both are really good, well made products that you would expect for their summit series garments. Nathan climbed in different layers to me and wore the DNP synthetic hoody everyday and loved it. He actually used it as his outer layer when climbing.

So whats next!? Now that I am getting used to the change in temperature from the Rocky Mountains in Winter to the Blue Mountains in Summer I have started to book folks in to my Summer courses. The courses offer a chance to experience abseiling and rock climbing in the Blue Mountains as well as learning many essential skills needed to complete climbs, expeditions or technical courses in the worlds greater ranges. It’s a New Year and a chance to try something different or work towards an expedition goal. Here are more details and dates for my training weekends coming up:

Allie Pepper Adventures_Expedition Training Course Blue Mountains_01_01_16 Allie Pepper Adventures_Expedition Training Course Blue Mountains_14_01_162What else? Well I still have places left on my Mera Peak expedition in April which is a fantastic first Himalayan and/or first high altitude peak situated in a remote region of Nepal. It is accessed via the Hinku Valley which offers an awesome trek through Sherpa villages and ancient Rhododendron forests to reach snow capped peaks and then finally the mountain. Once on the mountain you are spoiled with views to Everest, Makalu and Baruntse, one of the best views in the Himalaya. If you are interested in this expedition it commences on April 11 in Kathmandu. Please email me ASAP for a full brochure with expedition details and price.

I am currently working on my Winter programs starting in August in the Snowy Mountains and will post the dates and information on these shortly. I am also setting the date for the Aconcagua expedition at the end of the year and will post that info soon. Lots of adventures are on the horizon for 2016 and I hope you can join me on them! I really look forward to helping others achieve their dreams and goals in the mountains this year. Happy New Year everyone!

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