Step over the Edge

By Lisa Marshall, Director of Wild Women On Top

We had just climbed 500m in ascent on slippery ice and snow to the summit of Mt Ruapehu, an active Volcano in the World Heritage National Park of Tongariro. At the top, the views down in to the blue crater lake were unbelievable. White slopes covered in snow made a sharp descent down in to the crater. 

Then, the guide called me over. ‘That’s the way down’, he said. A 60-degree drop which continued for several hundred metres.

My heart began to race. "Really?", I replied, wondering how I was going to get down there myself, let alone support my group.

"Yes, and you need to go first so I can
stay back and follow the team” he said.

OK. I swallowed. I had to convince myself first. This was the chance of a lifetime to try something awesome and learn a new skill!

So I trusted our guide and stepped over the edge, took a deep breath, didn't look down. Then jammed my axe as hard as I
could deep in to the snow and dug both feet in to make a ladder of footholds straight down and then along. What exhilaration as I realised it looked a lot scarier than it was! The rest of the team peered over the edge watching to see my reaction, so I smiled and kept digging in until our guide said "Let go and slide now!" Woohoo!!! I was speeding down the untouched slope of white snow by the seat of my pants and loving it!

One by one the team followed and by the time we all reached the bottom of the steep slope we were flushed with exhilaration and laughing like kids! What a great opportunity to play in the wilderness!

Step over the edge in to the unknown. You'll be amazed at how exciting life can be when u give up all order, forget about the time or day or what the next meal will be.

This weekend in the land of Mt Doom, a fairy tale setting, we had a true adventure. Our itinerary planned months ahead was thrown in the bin as the weather and unexpected snow conditions dictated new routes, different walks and extra gear to cope with the deep snow that covered the three peaks of Tongariro NP in NZ.  "Expect the unexpected" is a motto we apply to all our trips, but never has its meaning been so well realised as on this NZ trek!

I was so proud of the team of Wild Women who took on trekking with ice axes and crampons, accepted last minute changes to well laid out plans, sat huddled in zero degree temps on a bridge in the snow to eat lunch and climbed down a steep snow slope with nothing but a nice axe to keep hold of. But what truly pleased me was to watch how at each of these moments there was laughter, smiles and happy chatter. And as we slid down snow-covered slopes to an unknown crater below, we were just a bunch of children having the best fun ever!

I'm so glad we have the physical ability to be able to do this. The strength in our legs to trudge through knee deep snow. The persistence to climb an icy slope, higher and higher to the summit to see beautiful views from the top. It's adventure that keeps me young. I never want to give up on my fitness and health because I want to adventure for a very long time to come. If you find excuses creeping in and your best efforts at keeping fit and eating clean going out the window more often than not, think back to being a young child running haphazard down a hill, sliding down a snow covered slope or laughing as you ran and dived in to the ocean. Do everything you can to have more of these magical moments as an adult. Make adventure your goal and look after your body so you can go out in to the beautiful wild for more fun!

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