Tag Archives: climbing

iPhone Astronomy Apps for Bushwalkers: Learn About the Night Sky

Ever wonder what that bright spot in the sky was? Wish you could name the stars, planets, and constellations you can see while sitting around the campfire? Like to know which satellite it is that you have just seen?

 Well, you could get your sky chart out and try to orientate it. That has certainly worked for me in the past, but with limited success.


Some of you might even remember the “Starfinder” which was a miniature cardboard planetarium and astrolabe which showed the constellations visible from 35S in the southern hemisphere. It had a disc, marked with the constellations,  which revolved inside a sleeve, with slots cut out, showing the sky at different times and months.

Fortunately there are several iPhone apps to help you that are a little more sophisticated. Some use the iPhone’s position sensors to determine where in the sky you are looking,  the GPS to decide where you are located and the time and date. Once these are decided, it is relatively easy to show you the relevant part of the sky map on the iPhone screen. Calibration is even possible eg  Star Walk allows you to view the night sky through the rear camera on your iPhone and superimpose it over  features you can recognise on the sky map, before setting.

Personally I agree with the rave reviews that Star Walk has been getting and this is my astronomy app of choice.

Star Walk Screenshot

For beginners. Star Spotter: real time motion tracking of the stars above you. General catalogue of sky objects. Pictures of constellations. Picture of the day: stunning pictures from deep space. Location of satellites. Search: be guided to sky objects. Deep sky objects. Time Machine: views the sky at any time in the past or future. Moon Phases. Night vision mode: preserves your dark vision to see more stars. View from any location

Other iPhone Astronomy Apps
Star Guide

Simple interface helps you learn the night sky by displaying the constellation at which your device is currently pointed. 

For best results hold the device at arms length, look along the surface, and tap the screen to pause the display

  • Star Map : for more experienced astronomers
Pocket Universe

Pocket Universe is an easy-to-use app that will help you learn constellations, bright stars and planets.

You can literally hold up your iPhone 3GS/4 in front of you, and the app will use the built-in compass to display the same view of the sky you see – but one that’s complete with names and information.


Easily and quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more with a touch or by simply pointing to the sky. Have fun with family and friends discovering the images in the night sky. Go outside and explore the night sky.

iStellar is a planetarium App that shows the starry sky seen from the place and time of your choice. It is optimized for Multi-Touch control, allowing you to operate intuitively; drag to move the star chart, pinch to zoom in and out, and so on. 

For an excellent comparison (not updated since Dec 2009): Star Charting Apps for iPhone and iPod Touch Review by Dan Schroeder, Physics Department, Weber State University

This review  by an experienced astronomer outlines the basic features you need, lists the distinguishing features of each and gives advice on how to decide on which to purchase. To make the task easier there is a table listing the features of each.

Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 1 Why, How and When?

How does bushwalking fitness differ from general fitness? Are there specific training methods that will help bushwalkers?  How long in advance should I start training for a specific bushwalk?


You will enjoy your bushwalk much better if you are fit, so that you have time and energy to talk to your fellow bushwalkers, admire the environment and take photos. Getting fit requires a well balanced program to develop the strength to carry a backpack, leg strength (quadriceps and knees) for hill climbing/descent, aerobic fitness and stamina. The two key components are cardiovascular (heart) fitness  and motor fitness (particularly strength, endurance and balance).

Getting fit can take many months, up to six for a strenuous multi-day expedition,  so don’t leave it till the last moment! Intense training under expert guidance can shorten this to as little as 6 – 8 weeks, for an 80% gain of what you could have achieved in 6 months.

If you have access to a fitness consultant/personal trainer, perhaps at your local gym, seek advice before you start training. Have the trainer determine your current fitness level or perhaps measure it yourself. I have posted some ideas to help you do this previously. Using your Smartphone to Monitor Fitness Levels for Bushwalkers and Hikers

Check with your doctor, whether you have any underlying health problems that could preclude certain types of training. Decide, in consultation, whether you need upper body strengthening exercises, how many sessions you will require, their type and their duration per week.

Your aerobic conditioning program should keep your heart rate high (65-85% of maximum rate, adjusted for age) and last 30- 60 mins per day, leaving some rest days. Interval training over at least a  three month period can further increase your cardiovascular fitness.

Stamina and strength training should replicate the terrain and weight carrying you will experience when bushwalking. There is little point in training on the flat, for short durations, at high speed with no pack, if your bushwalking is likely to be over hilly terrain, with a heavy pack and for 8-10 hours at a time. Gym fitness often doesn’t translate to fitness on a bushwalk.

Try stair climbing, if you have no hilly terrain near your home, or perhaps use a treadmill with an incline or a stepping machine. Start wearing your backpack as you get fitter.

In general, try to reproduce the terrain, weight carrying, duration and speed needed during your training. Be careful to build up slowly and not to overdo the frequency, intensity and duration of training too early. Don’t ignore the value of building up balance and  movement skills, which will allow you to move faster over difficult terrain. Scrambling skills are very useful!

Training for long days of bushwalking requires long days of training. Concentrate on legs, back and lungs! The number of sessions will vary, but 2-3 sessions per week with a backpack, gradually increasing to the likely weight will be most effective.

 Some Tips

Aerobic exercises could include:

  • climbing AND descending hills or stairs
  • running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding

Don’t forget to:

  • warm up and warm down with a 10-15 minute aerobic warm up and 5 – 10 minute warm down
  • Stretch for 15 minutes after warm up and immediately after your workout.


RMI Training Recommendations ( pdf download)
An RMI Guide Shares his Views on Training (pdf download)
Training for climbing, trekking and skiing…. ( IcicleUK.com)

Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Planning a Climb of Mt Aspiring, New Zealand | Useful Links

Mt Aspiring, NW ridge, ramp, SW ridge, seen from Mt Barff (to SW)

Mt Aspiring (3033m) in the south island is New Zealand’s  second highest mountain and is set amongst some spectacular alpine scenery. While a serious mountaineering challenge, comparable to many more famous climbs in Europe, guides are available for those with little experience.

Weather can be unpredictable and extreme, as in all alpine areas, and the terrain life threatening. Fortunately, it is easily accessible by road or helicopter from nearby Wanaka which can make selecting a safe weather window easier.

The links below collate some of the information I have collected from commercial, government web sites and personal blogs in preparation for a climb later this year.


Mountain Recreation Equipment List http://www.mountainrec.co.nz
Aspiring Guides Equipment List (download pdf)
Boots and Footwear (Alpine Guides)
Equipment and Clothing | Aoraki/Mount Cook Expedition (download pdf) (Alpine Guides)
Pre-trip Information (Alpine Guides)
Guide to Equipment and Clothing | Gear for Mountaineering in New Zealand (Alpine Guides)
Equipment and Clothing Check-lists (Alpine Guides)
NZ Ascents Equipment  (download pdf) (Adventure Consultants)
NZ Summer Equipment Notes (download pdf) (Adventure Consultants)
Mountaineering Instruction Course Equipment (download pdf) (Adventure Consultants)

Equipment Hire

New Zealand Alpine Club
Bivouac Outdoor (Christchurch +10 other locations)
Outside Sports  Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau specialise in hiking, biking, camping, fishing, skiing, snowboarding )
Bev’s Tramping Gear Hire (based in Te Anau)
Mainly Camping (Wanaka) rental and retail: climbing, mountaineering
Wanaka Sports beacons for hire

Guided Climbs

Mt Aspiring Guided Climb (Mountain Recreation)
Mt Aspiring/Tititea (Mt Aspiring Guides. com)
Guided Ascent of Mt Aspiring/Tititea  (Alpinism and Ski Ltd )
Guided Tour Mt Aspiring / Tititea  (Adventure Consultants)
Sunrockice Mount Aspiring 5 Day Program (SunRockIce New Zealand Mountain and Ski Guides )

Commercial Resources

From Alpinism and Ski Ltd

News from the Mountain and Ski Guiding Experts (Alpinism and Ski Ltd)
Posts related to Mt Aspiring Ascent (Alpinism and Ski Ltd) 
Guided Tour Mt Aspiring / Tititea  (Download pdf) (Adventure Consultants)
Sunrockice Mount Aspiring 5 Day Program (download trip information pdf) Sunrockice New Zealand Mountain and Ski Guides
Conditions: Mt Aspiring National Park (Aspiring Guides)
**** Backcountry Tips-October 2008 (download pdf)
The proof is in the pudding – SW Ridge Mt Aspiring  Jean Clairmonte (Aspiring Guides)
Safety and rivers in the New Zealand backcountry (Aspiring Guides)

Department of Conservation Resources (DOC)

Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre Contact Details
Mt Aspiring National Park: introduction, features , places to stay, plan and prepare (DOC)
Mount Aspiring National Park Alerts
Prepare and Plan Links to alerts, safety, weather, minimising your impact, online booking, maps, licences and permits
Planning a trip in the backcountry? (pdf , 415K)
Safety: equip yourself well

plus much more

Mountain Safety Council Resources (MSC)

Safety Tips
MSC online resources  for download include pamplets such as

  • Using Avalanche Transceivers
  • Bushcraft – Going Bush 
  • River Safety
  • Outdoor First Aid -Preventing Hypothermia 

MSC Resources: Equipment: pack liners and survival bags for online purchase (NZ only)
MSC Resources: Free Downloads: Mountain Radio Contacts, Bushcraft – Intentions form pads
MSC Radio Communications Pamphlet (pdf download)

plus much more



Eric and Lucie’s Bus Trip Mt Aspiring, Southwest Ridge, New Zealand December  2008 
**** Ascent of Mount Aspiring (3033 m), New Zealand
**** Tramping and Climbing in New Zealand: Mt Aspiring and the North West Routeby by Jaz Morris  


Mountaineering Instruction Course  (Adventure Consultants)
Mountaineering Instruction Course Notes (download pdf) (Adventure Consultants)
Sunrockice New Zealand Mountain and Ski Guides (download pdf)   for  Alpine Instruction Course


Fitness for Mountaineering (Alpine Guides)
Training Fitness Mountaineering (Google Search)


Aspiring Images
Mt Aspiring Powerpoint  (Bob Bell)
Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring Virtual Tour ( Adventure Consultants)

See also the blogs above.


Mt Aspiring (miroar)
Mountain Climbing Mt Aspiring New Zealand Alps  (nightguy75)
Summit of Mt. Aspiring (avipoodle)
View from French Ridge Hut (hellosailor1982)
Aspiring – Flyin to Bevan Col (Part1) (craigwigglesworth) 
Aspiring – Summit Day (Part 2) (craigwigglesworth)
Aspiring – Bonar French Ridge Out(Part 3) (craigwigglesworth) 
Mount Aspiring NZ Flight (palevo7)


Wanaka Regional Map (download, pdf)
Wanaka Town Map (download pdf)
Changing Garmin GPS units from NZMG to NZTM factsheet (PDF, 360K)
Topo50 CA11 Aspiring Flats (LINZ) free download or from map shops.

Small section of CA11

Weather Reports

Mountain Conditions (MetService)
Backcountry Avalanche Advisory
Mountain Safety Council Backcountry Advisory
Severe Weather Warnings (MetService)
Severe Weather Outlook (MetService)
Severe Weather Watch (MetService)


Alpine Coachlines (Wanaka): shuttles to Mt Aspiring
Aircraft Access
Aspiring Helicopters 
Atomic Shuttles (online bookings)
South Link Travel

Newspaper/magazine  Articles

Just the Tonic by Maina Perrot (Wild Adventure) Outdoor Australia March 2009 (pdf download)
Climbing Mt Aspiring (pdf dowload) Marc Connors Outdoor Australia March 2009
Warning about NZ weather
Climber dies on Aspiring
Body retrieval first task with team
Mt Aspiring (3032m) by Geoff Wayatt

Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.