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Icebreaker Athlete Justin Lichter Completes Himalaya Traverse

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“I just completed an unsupported trekking traverse of the Himalayas this past week.  The hike was over 2,600 kilometers and a whole lot of elevation gain and loss, at least the equivalent of summiting Mt. Everest over 20 times. I hiked from the easternmost 8,000 meter peak to the westernmost 8,000 meter peak averaging about 40km per day and hiking for the past three months.

Thanks to Icebreaker merino I  was able to wear the same baselayers for the entire trip only washing them out in creeks and rivers, never even using soap!  Three months, 10-15 hour hiking days through hot and humid and cold and snowy, and using only 2 shirts and 1 pair of boxers!”

- Justin Lichter, Icebreaker Athlete

Walking the Samaria Gorge

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After our wonderful sailing experience my family and I spent some time on the island of Crete. My dad decided it would be a fun idea to walk the Samaria Gorge – the longest gorge in Europe.

The gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli.

Dressed in Icebreaker GT and Superfine, the family was all geared up to tackle the gorge – we had convinced ourselves it was nothing more than a “walk in the park”. Everything we read said you only needed a medium level of fitness, there was a well worn “footpath” to the end, and as it was all downhill it wasn’t very strenuous. I mean, we had all done the Tongariro Crossing, this would be a piece of cake – right?

WRONG! The guide on the bus had warned us – if you are having any knee pain within the first 4km, then turn back…it’s only going to get worse. At the 4km mark, after a very steep descent, I had rolled both of my weak ankles numerous times, and my left knee felt like it was facing the wrong way. I then started favouring my right knee, which started feeling the strain very quickly!

The terrain was definitely not what I would describe as a well worn footpath – more of an uneven rocky stony trail – often there wasn’t a trail to follow and you made it up yourself.

The hardest part was trying to beat the heat. We started the gorge at 8am but were advised to try and finish before pm as the last 3km were exposed. With temperatures in the high 30’s, walking in the blazing sun was to be avoided – so keeping a fast pace became essential.

We had a quick stop at the half way point, the ancient village of Samaria where we lunched with the Kri-Kri’s – Cretan goats that are only found in that area.

We made it through the most famous part of the gorge, the Iron Gates, where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only four meters and soar up to a height of 500m.

We reached the 14km mark at a painful shuffle. Mum and I were experiencing bad knee pain from the constant downhill over rocks, and my feet were more than ready to get out of my trail shoes! The shoes and Icebreaker socks came off, and the jandals went on…and suddenly I thought I was hallucinating. Up ahead was a small shack with a sign “Bus to Port – 1 EURO”. Not surprisingly I was the first person on that bus for the last 1km ride to Roumeli!

We shuffled into a taverna, put our feet up, and enjoyed ice cold beers for the rest of the afternoon before a ferry took us back to Hóra Sfakíon.

Wearing Icebreaker was a saviour – the heat was intense, but our tee’s kept us cool and dry. I have no doubt that wearing Icebreaker socks saved our feet from blisters!

Luckily the knee pain only lasted a day, our calves and feet were back to normal a couple of days after that…but the photos will last forever!

- Leah Evans, Global Communications Executive

Bodyfit vs Avalanche – A tale of one little IBer across ‘Middle Earth’

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When my friend asked if I wanted to do something crazy in Queenstown I thought she meant dressing up in clown outfits and riding the gondola at midnight. Fun and Crazy!No, what she wanted to do was a 3 day 2 night hike through Mt Aspiring National park in spring…spring…the perfect time for melting snow to cause that thing called an avalanche?!

“What? Theres only 32 avalanche paths across the Routeburn track and almost all of them are on the Saddle track which is near the summit”

After reading ‘Feel the Fear but do it anyway’, training with 10kg weights in my backpack up Mt Vic daily and googling “mountain survival tips’ I was ready for the avalanche dodging adventure.

Lucky I have a wardrobe full of Icebreaker gears that have been waiting to fulfill their true purpose in life. It was time to test them out in the environments outside of the Hope Gibbons building (Icebreaker Head Office).

The first day, after 9kms, 5 hours and at 1000mtrs altitude we hit snow, lots and lots of it. It was calf deep for my fellow walkers and thigh deep for me!

“Ok guys this is getting serious, I don’t know if we should go on”
“What are you talking about, you’re covered head to toe in Icebreaker gear, surely your GTs and Bodyfits can handle a bit of snow”
“I’m nice and toasty in my 150+280+320 thanks, just not sure about how it’d save me on a slippery snow slide down the mountain!”

After some debates and the fact we met mountaineers who had turned back because of lack of crampons and ice axes, we (not just me) decided it was best if we chose life. We turned back to walk the sub-alpine tracks.

On the way down we were rewarded with stunning views of snow covered peaks, crystal blue rivers and the stunning half frozen Lake Harris, but above and beyond that, we saw an avalanche, on the next mountain peak! PHEW!

The second day we crossed 22km of beautiful valleys and native forests via Caples tracks with my Icebreaker bodyfit still smelling fresh and comfy as ever, something I can’t say about the bush Pitt toilets.

Three shower-less days and 53kms later, we emerged from the track to be greeted by Buckly Transport, the best shuttle service ever! Ian and Diane had hot coffee and cake waiting for us in their pickup van, wonderful treats after 3 days of scrogin, muesli bars and freeze dry food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We ended our little adventure with a night out in Queenstown – cold beer, hot steaks, wearing my fresh’n’clean villa dress, and with a new found appreciation and perspective on life.

 – Sarany Pan, Icebreaker Financial Systems Analyst