Newsletter, May 2012


WELCOME > New Members:
Marie Firth, Peter Wilkie & Lee Nixon

Download the printed version of the newsletter (8 pages colour), as a small 0.8-megabyte PDF file. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar program installed on your computer. Broadband connection preferable.)

OBITUARY > Ruth Hesselyn > 1956—2012

Throughout the life of any tramping club, people come and go, and occasionally a person joins who stands out above the crowd, giving that little bit more in terms of enthusiasm, joy and energy.

Ruth Hesselyn was one such person. She joined the Nelson Tramping Club in 1983.

Ruth’s climbing started with the Sumner clock tower aged three, and became more serious at sixteen when she and her school friend Pam McKelvey trained in the Port Hills carrying bricks in their packs. In 1974, she worked as gardener at The Hermitage, and with friend and guide Bruno Sprecher, climbed Mt Cook, Mt Tasman, Malte Brun and Silberhorn. Ruth travelled with Bruno to Yosemite where they climbed Half Dome, Glacier Point. In Switzerland they climbed in the Bernina Range. Bruno called Ruth “my little chamois” due to her speed and grace of travel.

Ruth returned in November 1976 as Head Gardener and added other trips to her list, including Footstool, Nun’s Veil and Copland Pass.

Ruth attended a photography course at Wellington Polytechnic and resulting in jobs in Nelson and Sydney, allowing her to top up her travel funds. Ruth travelled extensively in USA, UK, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet, and around the South Island on her dad’s single speed bike.

In 1997 Ruth’s mother died as a result of a car accident and Ruth adopted her cairn terrier, Skye, who soon became a tramping dog. A year later Ruth moved her woodworking business to Frog’s End, and ‘settled’ down to tramping, woodworking, working on the olive grove, plus taking her sister Lynne, a wheelchair user, on a series of adventures over the years.

Ruth quickly made a mark in the club with her adventurous spirit, organising new and challenging trips, and her effortless gait that saw her pull away from the fittest and younger club members. Her large blue pack (called Big Blue) and her slight frame have fooled many people.

Newcomers to the club were especially touched by Ruth, who was always happy to drop back from exploring ahead, and lend a hand, or just walk alongside. After joining the New Zealand Alpine Club in 2002, the tramping club trip programme soon had a selection of these trips on its calendar.

Ruth’s legendary fitness extended beyond NTC. Before her 50th birthday celebration climb up Mt Aspiring, an Aspiring Guide told his wife that “she won’t make it, she’s so tiny”. He retracted his words and Ruth was told afterwards that she could come with them anytime.

Ruth threw herself into the club, and over the years worked on the trip programme, producing over two hundred trips in a two year period. She was involved with the committee, and also was one of the most active members in the club. She produced photo display boards for the Nelson Tramping Club’s 75th Anniversary. Many hours of work were involved, making sure that the photos reflected the club through the years. Ruth’s enthusiasm also extended to trip food, taking dining to new heights.

Ruth will be dearly missed by everyone who knew her. We will miss her joyfulness, adventurous spirit, infectious laughter, companionship and down-to-earth nature. Ruth died doing what she loved, and will be part of her beloved mountains forever now.

Mike Drake

Editor’s note: Mike has posted a more detailed obituary on the club website  - Click here

SHAUN BARNETT VISIT > End of September Tramp. October 2 Club Night.


The Committee have managed to convince Shaun to fly over the ditch later in the year.

Based in Wellington, Shaun is Editor of the FMC Bulletin, and roving editor of Wilderness magazine. He is also a prolific author, keen-eyed photographer & unashamed hut-bagger.

Join Shaun for a club trip over the weekend, then hear him speak on the Monday evening. He will be sharing about one of his South Island traverses - apparently he’s walked the Mainland is three stages.

Shaun is also launching his latest book in October, about backcountry huts. This promises to be a great gift or stocking-filler for Xmas.


7:30pm Nelson Intermediate School, Tipahi Street. Gold Coin.

Monday 11 June : Keynote Speaker: Phil Doole

Phil Doole is one of NZ’s most determined mountaineers and an outdoors Nelsonian. He is well known for his climbing exploits before and after the events on Mt Cook in 1982 where his lost his feet to frostbite. Past-President of NZ Alpine Club, Phil brings a wealth of experience which he will present in a well-illustrated talk to the club.

Monday 6 August : 79th AGM > Call for nominations

There are large gaps in the current committee so we need new blood. Please offer your assistance so the essential functions for smooth operation of the club can proceed. Many hands make light work.

> All nominations must be received by 16 July.

Monday 2 October : Guest Speaker, Shaun Barnett Editor of the FMC Bulletin, and roving editor of Wilderness magazine.
Prolific author, photographer & hut-bagger.



The charge for each trip to be paid by each passenger is calculated using the following formula. This was set up by past-president Grahame Harris about ten years ago (he was an accountant). It is currently administered by Margot Sym and Jim Maxwell as they assemble trip programmes.

Cost per person per km in dollars is:

((1355 x P) + 1210) / 42000

where P is the petrol price in dollars per litre.

The current 91 octane petrol price is $2.19 (P = 2.19) yielding a cost pp per km of $0.10.

The return distance for each trip is measured with any unsealed km x 1.5

So, for example, for a trip with a road distance to the track of 75km sealed and 10km unsealed gives a total return km of 150 + 30 = 180km and therefore the cost pp is $18.

Grahame’s formula assumes there will be 3 paying passengers per vehicle and that the vehicle will be a solid sedan (i.e. not a mini or a bus). He also included other running costs such as tires and routine servicing. However, insurance, registration, WOF and depreciation costs are not included. The charge was originally called a donation but the committee thought this term was too soft.

This formula has served the club well, ensuring owners are adequately recompensed, on average, for being prepared to put their vehicles forward and enabling trips. The charges would be much higher if the AA mileage rates were used because these are based on the total cost of owning/running relatively new vehicles. However, transport charges are still going up because of the ever-increasing price of petrol.

One particular factor, amongst many, that might be considered is the number of passengers. If there are greater or less than 3 for a particular trip/vehicle then the driver will be making a nominal profit or loss which could be quite high for a long trip.

The listed transport charge is really just a starting point and is open to negotiation to meet the particular circumstances of each trip. Feedback from members is most welcome.

MOUNTAIN SAFETY COUNCIL > Courses run in Nelson

Contact: Evelyn O’Neill.

Mail: 23 Coleridge Place, Stoke.

Telephone: (03) 547 2426



Outdoor Leadership > 7 May > COST: $310
Venue: Nelson, TBA

Basic Alpine > 25–26 August > COST: $175
Venue: Rainbow Ski Field

The course is aimed at those with limited experience. It will suit those who intend to travel on non-technical snow and alpine terrain and are looking for entry-level instruction to mountaineering. (Pre-course evening, 2 field days.)

Pre-requisites: certificate of attendance from ‘Alpine Introduction’ or equivalent (e.g. has used crampons and ice axe on snow). Decision on attendance to be made by MSC Branch Alpine Coordinator.

Outdoor First Aid > 8-9 September > COST: $180
Venue: Paretai Lodge, Brightwater

WRITING COMPETITION >The newsletter needs you!

To spice up our bi-monthly rag, and to motivate aspiring wordsmiths, the Editor has launched a club-wide competition.

Deadline: End of 2012. Prize: Voucher (to be advised)

Dust off your typewriter, and get writing. This could be your next trip report, or a proactive piece on the pleasure (or pain) of tramping. There’s no word limit, but a decent effort will probably score higher than just a few lines. Poetry and prose, (especially humour) are welcome.

Entries limited to members only.

Raymond Salisbury, EDITOR

CAPE TO CAPE > On-line Book > by Ray Salisbury

In 1995, Raymond Salisbury tramped from East Cape to Cape Egmont.
It took him 80 days, on foot, alone.

This is his story, now re-published on-line as down-loadable PDF files:



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