Archive for April, 2009

Men’s Group

Moving Year's of Energy

Moving Years of Energy

Breaking with Convention of Pent-Up Emotions

More than ever, men are seeking help to get in touch with their feelings. In the wake of the 7-Award winning Australian film, “Men’s Group”,  Phil Taylor of the New Zealand Weekend Herald, reports on the trend in men to seek emotional health. View the article in a pdf document on MSI’s website.

In general, American’s are thought of as a bit “touchy feely” by Australia and New Zealand standards, however I believe that Americans are confronting, and are confronted by their past, their situation in the world, and everything from the excessive materialism, Manifest Destiny and greed, to the huge per capita use of the world’s non-renewable resources.  The US is at a turning point,  in which, I believe,  the mainstream population is becoming more compassionate and in the moment. A calm and lighter spirit is quietly  arising, and people are taking action to change the world by changing themselves.

Men's Group Movie
Men’s Group Movie

The fruits of  inner work are starting to show through society’s fabric in every day life, on the sidewalks  or commutes to work. People are awakening to the higher possibilities of who they can be.  It’s my observation that New Zealand and Australia’s men have an opportunity to dip their toe in the water of healthy expression, and jump in. It’s a natural evolution from the stark existence that, less than a generation ago was the only allowed  behavior. Likewise, not more than 200 years ago, one could get burned at the stake for stating one’s true feelings, if they deviated from the social norm in any way.

Regarding the Movie, Men’s Group – The author saw the movie last night here in Auckland.  Be prepared for witnessing the stark extreme of the dark age of men’s pent-up emotions.  Both my wife and I think it is an important movie detailing the most difficult cases of men’s situations, and at the same time, portraying the hope of change.

Mountain Spirit addresses this need in our communities by offering programs for both men, women and families in mountain and natural settings in the U.S., Peru, and New Zealand.

Summiting the Matterhorn

Bob Boyce, Scot Bergeron: Matterhorn's Summit

Bob Boyce, Scot Bergeron: Matterhorn's Summit Image: R Richards

Three local guys from Sunapee, New Hampshire, USA summited the Matterhorn via the Hornli Ridge. Although it’s been a few years since the team summitted, a story that happened on the ascent bears worth mentioning here. It’s about boundaries, keeping your cool,  and international relations.

Scot Bergeron, Bob Boyce, and I decided to do the standard route from the Hornli Ridge Hut. Scot and I were playing music just over the hill in Saas Fee for the summer and took a few days off.  I’d done the Haute Route once with a group of Austrian young guns from Strolz Ski Boots in Lech, and another time with a couple of clients, but hadn’t done any climbs in the area, and thought the Matterhorn would be a good place to start.
We were the first out of the hut in the early darkness. We soon found ourselves overtaken by few of the local guides and their clients, not because of our slowness in climbing but the rather slow going in keeping on route which none of us had climbed before.  We’d see headlamps off to our south and figured they were a bit more on route than us, so we’d veer in their direction. As the sun was coming up we came to a roped section just  below the Solvay Hut at 4000 m.  I was belaying Scot, who was just about half-way up the pitch, when a Swiss mountain guide came up to our belay (more…)

Sicko, The US Health Care System


The following excerpt from Metro Magazine in New Zealand is an important and balanced glimpse of the troubled and sick US Health care system.

Editor’s Note: My U.S. insurance premiums for my individual private policy with Anthem Blue Cross (New Hampshire) were US$ 500.00+ per month with a $2,500 yearly deductible. This deductible started over every year –  payments toward the deductable could not be carried over to the next year. I was under insured, and was throwing money away. I stopped this policy a few months ago.  In contrast,  monthly insurance premiums for a family of four in New Zealand are approximately $100.00/per month with little or no deductibles. A part of my plan will be a flight to a NZ hospital if need be.

I was compelled to put this on MSI’s blog. Please encourage others to read this as well and pass it on.

Metro Magazine, New Zealand, April 2009
By Metro Staff Writer Frances Morton

Health Care USA

Health Care USA

Even as parts of our health system struggle to cope with demand, entrepreneurs have launched a business flying Americans into Auckland for surgery. Bob Light lives in Cottonwood, Arizona, a small town (population 12,000) in the picturesque Verde River valley, 160km north of Phoenix. Cottonwood is *cowboy country, and the town was notorious for bootlegging in its heyday, attracting amusement-seekers from as far away as Los Angeles. These days, visitors are more likely to roll up for the **ghost towns and cactus-strewn desert scenery than wild times in the West. Light, 55, runs a landscaping business. His artificial hip needed replacing and was causing him so much trouble he could no longer work unless the job involved sitting down. His business is small,  and he doesn’t have health insurance. In the complex American health insurance market, Light couldn’t find insurance he could afford and that truly do something for him.

That left him with two choices: get an operation in the States paying full price, or (more…)

Judge Dismisses Land Developer’s lawsuit


Concord, NH, USA
“A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state of New Hampshire  by the owners of Mount Sunapee Resort, who had lobbied for years to expand and develop condominiums. Judge Diane Nicolosi made her ruling late Friday, several weeks after canceling a trial between Tim and Diane Mueller and the state.” Read more via Judge dismisses Mt. Sunapee lawsuit.

fomslogopan“This is a major victory in our efforts to protect Mount Sunapee State Park,” said conservationist and public land advocate Tom Elliott.

Elliott is also an organizer for Friends of Mount Sunapee, a watch-guard group that steadfastly opposed the Mueller’s leasehold expansion plan.

Article: Courtesy of

Editor’s Note: I’m a founding board member of Friends of Mount Sunapee, and although not as active while abroad, am warmed, not only by this decision but by the thought of how far we’ve come with with a shift in land preservation awareness in Sullivan County, NH. When we first considered raising our hands in opposition to (more…)

MSI Launches New Zealand Website

R Richards, MSI's Founder, Ex. Director

R Richards, MSI's Founder, Director

Due to MSI Director, R. Richards’  plans to spend “a bit” more time in New Zealand, he is seeking concession/commercial use permits in order to lead programs in Mt. Aspiring National Park and other areas on the South Island. Department of Conservation, (D.O.C.), (a combination of Forest Service, and Park Service), have given a nod that the permit process could be a go for the organization, given all needed documents are presented and the prerequisites and qualifications are there to apply.  A concurrent step is to investigate either setting up a New Zealand non-profit organization, or to continue under MSI’s U.S. status.
True to form, Richards has launched the New Zealand MSI website in preparation of launching the NZ programs, “to get the word out.”   Says Richards, “We’re getting some good signs, responses from the public and D.O.C.”  He adds, ” There seems to

Glacier & Mountain Experiences on the Horizon

Glacier & Mountain Experiences on the Horizon

be a strong interest and market for Peru. I can see MSI running trips in both directions, Kiwis to Peru, Utah, Alaska and New Hampshire, Chimu Inka Peruvian  Music to New Zealand and Yankees to the South Island to see what Mt. Aspiring is all about.” One particular interest that Richards sees on the horizon is targeting youth in Auckland and Wellington who suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder. “There’s a strong need to get our youth connected to the mountains again.” Richards says, ” New Zealand is not immune to technology taking over young people’s concept of reality. I think we can help.”

Sunapee/Outward Bound Program:New Webpage

MSI's New Webpage on Sunapee's OB Program

MSI's New Webpage on Sunapee's OB Program

The MSI/Sunapee High School/Outward Bound Scholarship Program, now in it’s fourth year gets a new webpage. There is a host of information: past recipients, donors, an overview and goals of the the program and where to find out more. The program is gaining some traction both with students, the community and with Outward Bound’s scholarship department.  Thanks to former Recruiter and Scholarship coordinator Charlie Reade who helped MSI’s Executive Director R. Richards set up the program, a number of students have had a trip of a life time.

Image: Brian Baily-Mountain Yoga

Image: Brian Baily-Mountain Yoga

On the webpage are pics from Brian Baily’s Rock/Backpacking course in Colorado, and Hanna Baade’s sea kayaking program on the coast of Maine. Baade was the first recipient of the scholarship which was first supported by Sugar River Bank. More recently, Rotary International (New London, NH) and other organizations are aiding the effort.

The program is one of MSI’s first “service projects”, aimed at giving back to the community in which MSI is incorporated, and the director’s hometown. In all aspects of MSI, we incorporate a service component, whether it be a board meeting, a program to Peru or at the administration level. Again this inspiration comes from Outward Bound and Kurt Hahn in the first place.

On Rappel: North Cascades, WA, USA

On Rappel: North Cascades, WA, USA

You can check out the web page, and who knows, you may even be inclined to jump on the bandwagon and donate!

Donations can be sent to MSI’s office at:

Mountain Spirit Institute
POB 626
Sunapee, NH 03782

Starting the Day Right

Governour's Bay, Picton, NZ

Governor's Bay, Picton, NZ

Early Bird Catches the Shot
We were to catch the ferry from New Zealand’s South Island to the North island. The Ferry first weaves its way from Picton Harbor, through a long sound, before opening out into the open water between north and south islands. The passage is seen in the image at right. The crossing takes about 3.5 hours,  which departed at 8am. We encamped on the Queen Charlotte Drive just west of Picton, and this early morning sunrise of the sound started our day.

Taxi Fleet uses Toyota Prius

Tom Bogdan & Prius Taxi

Tom Bogdan & his Prius taxi

A Wellington,  New Zealand taxi company called “Green Cabs” has thought of a better business plan. They have a fleet of Toyota Prius’s not only in the nation’s capital but in two other cities as well. According to taxi driver Tomislav Bogdan, pictured at right, Green Cabs has forty-five Prius taxis in Wellington alone. When we asked about the price comparison of taking the Prius taxi versus a non-hybrid we were surpised to learn the rates were actually cheaper. Bogdan adds, “The rate around town is NZ$2.50/kilometer (About US$1.50), which you won’t see our competitors offering such a price. The operating costs are cheaper, less gas! We are getting very low in-city fuel consumption rates because of the hybrid.”

Cool Graphics promote sustainability

Cool Graphics promote sustainability

The bright green Prius sports a cool logo, big global graphic, a catchy phrase stating “Safer for you and safer for the environment”,  and a driver with matching green tie.  The model Tom was driving was a 2007 standard Prius, with right side driver’s wheel of course. I doubt the paint color is standard!

Maybe other capital cities will encourage and invest in such green taxis, if they’ve not done so already. City managers take note. For information or if you’d like to take a ride in a bright green hybrid taxi you can contact Green Cabs at

Town runs Recycle Store, You Can Too

Wanaka ReStart Store

Wanaka ReStart Store

A group of women in Wanaka, New Zealand saw a need for a better way to recycle perfectly good items that were going to the landfill.  That’s when they decided to do something about it and started the “ReStore” a number of years ago.  The store is a success story in that it serves a vital function in reducing the landfill flow, allows a source for people to purchase used items, and allows the community to re-think their priorities on what happens in the use-cycle of their stuff.  The ReStore is actually called Wanaka Wastebusters ( and their store is a feast for the eyes.
(Image: Dan Robertson, an employee of Wanaka Recycling, exits the ReStore to tend the recycle bins)

Wanaka Wastebusters Glass

Wanaka Waste-busters Glass

There’s a cult following in Salt Lake City Utah of Deseret Industries stores, operated by the Mormons.  Most of the author’s wardrobe comes from high quality used clothes from Deseret Industries.  Talking to others who frequent the Deseret Industries stores is like sharing a rock-climbing or alpine adventure story.  And all of my favorite clothes are those from “D.I.” as it’s affectionately called amongst  Utah locals.
(Image: The glass recycle bin and containers for household items and building materials at Wanaka Wastebusters)

In Wanaka, the ReStore looks like any other thrift store but it’s part of an in the center of the town recycle center. They’ve got recycling down to a fine art. A huge percentage of New Zealanders recycle and it can be seen in the activities at Wanaka Wastebusters.

Wanaka's Angus Ho at "ReStore"

Wanaka's Angus Ho at "ReStore"

Project Team Member, Angus Ho is soft spoken but talks intensely about his project, Get which aims at educating people and government in reducing and  eventually eliminating plastic bag use at stores throughout the country. Ho has set up an info board and laptop where citizens can sign a petition for legislation on the subject.    The following are a few Q&A from the Wastebusters newsletter, (Yes, they have a newsletter):
Angus, what do you do in your job?
Angus Ho: I promote and design projects and campaigns. I set up the green Christmas Presents Campaign and the Recycled Envelope Campaign. I’m also doing waste check-ups for households and businesses. (more…)

Preserving Lakefront, Not Dominating It

Lake Outlet Campground, Wanaka NZ

Lake Outlet Campground, Wanaka NZ

Lake Outlet Campground in Wanaka, New Zealand  might look like your every-day campground in a stunning setting, tucked in amongst the low windswept trees alongside the shores of Lake Wanaka, but I assure this is no ordinary campground. Owners Glenn Tattersall and Tracy Addison happened to be at the right place at the right time a few years ago when they expressed interest in taking over the campground from landowner and operator Liam Urquhart.  According to campground employee Joshua, Urquhart no longer was interested in running the campground, apparently the land developers caught word of his intentions and offered him millions for the lakefront property.  ( Private lakefront property ownership doesn’t exist in New Zealand due to a national law called the Queen’s Chain that declares all land, starting from the high water line at the shore and going  40 meters (120 feet) back are public property and right of way. This also goes for rivers. The public is allowed to use this land for recreation and fishing access.)
About that time, enters Tattersall and Addison.  The owner had no interest in selling to developers and with a lot of work was able to come up with a thirty-five year lease which not only provided Glenn and Tracy with a way in which to operate the campground, but put the land in protection during the next 35 year lease.
The author’s father once owned a lakefront campground near Fisher’s Bay in Sunapee New Hampshire, USA, in the mid 1960’s. The tents eventually gave way to million dollar homes in the form of a “funnel development “ called Oakledge. (The term “funnel development” is used for subdivisions which use a small amount of lake frontage to sell and support a large number of home lots away from the lakefront. This shared access allows many homeowners access to boat docks, beaches, launching ramps etc. Funnel developments were no longer allowed in the early 1970’s in New Hampshire, USA)
In the free market , it was an obvious course of events, as tents wouldn’t pay the bills as much as a subdivision.  So I had personal experience of the value of what Mr. Urquhart and Tattersall and Ms. Addison had accomplished at Lake Outlet.
And Lakeside is no mere campground. Tattersall states his goals in running the operation – “We are making this operation as green as possible. Through our improvements and renovations we will be installing energy efficient appliances in the renovated green building of the main shower and kitchen complex.

Tentsite: Working with nature, not dominating it.

Tentsite: Working with nature, not dominating it.

We are also working with the landscape rather than dominating it. Our tent and RV sites are interspersed around the existing trees and we intend to plant more trees.” He concluded, “This land is locked up in preservation for the next 35 years, and we’re proud to have had a part in that.”  Of course none of this would have been possible without the stalwart vision and forward thinking of the landowner.