Return to Europe in January

It’s taken me until May to blog about it, but I did actually return to Europe after being in Canberra in January. Here’s a bit of what that looked like.

Adelaide was Adelaidean. It was great to see my extended family there.
I can never get over how many ships there are just hanging out near Singapore.
In Singapore, Tanya and I went into the city for a few hours. It rained torrents and the things we wanted to see were shut…
but we had Singapore Slings over the road from the original Raffles Hotel (which was shut). And that was excellent.
May 2, 2018

Guerilla Bay

During the post-Christmas summer days when nobody knows what day of the week it is, Anna, Katie, Tanya and I went for a trip to the beach, to Guerilla Bay. Here are some pictures from those few days in January.

Guerilla Bay.
Cicada on the beach! Lost maybe.
Windy conditions.
Banksia flowers were everywhere.
South coast sunset magic.
More sunset.
The beach just after dawn.
I love how the forest comes right down to the sea here.
March 9, 2018

New Zealand, January 2018

Early in the new year I flew from Canberra across to New Zealand to catch up with Tanya’s family. I landed in Wellington and had fantastic views out across the Sounds at the top of the South Island.

The west coast of the South Island.
The southern tip of the North Island, approaching Wellington.

We spent a few lovely days in Christchurch before driving south to Mt Cook Village.

A mural in Christchurch city centre.
Mount Sefton.
Aoraki/Mt Cook appearing from the clouds.
Mt Cook Village view.
Swimming in Lake Pukaki.
Mt Cook over Pukaki.

We stayed in Wanaka for a few days, swam in Lake Hawea, walked up a hill in the pouring rain, saw friends, and sampled local beers.

Rolling cloud over the Lindis Pass.
Tanya at Lindis Pass.
Lake Wanaka.
Lake Hawea.
Wanaka sunset.

One day we went to the Matukituki Valley. To get there we had to drive up an incredibly corrugated road and cross several river fords. It was worth the effort though, because we walked up through lovely NZ forest to see the Rob Roy glacier from afar.

Beech forest and glacier river.
Rob Roy glacier.

Later on we drove across to Queenstown for the day, and came back to Wanaka via Cromwell.

The Remarkables near Queenstown.
Cromwell wall.
Cromwell’s gift to the world.

All too soon it was time to leave again, and Tanya and I went together back to Canberra. This time in NZ was special. We got to spend wonderful time with family, see favourite spots, and remind ourselves of the relaxed kiwi way of things.

Leaving Wellington.
February 4, 2018

To Australia for Christmas

I was last home in Australia for Christmas 2015, so it was with great relish that I got on a plane to head home for a summer Christmas and a long overdue catch-up with my wonderful family and friends. For the first time ever I was able to fly directly to Canberra from Singapore, skipping all the faff of changing planes and terminals in Sydney.

Mum making mince pies for Christmas.

It was amazing to get back to the warm open skies of Canberra, everything wide and well spaced, birds in the air and squawking, gum trees bending gently in the wind. Christmas day itself was only a few days after I arrived and was a beautiful low-key affair with a quiet lunch of great food. We are lucky.

In Canberra I did Canberra things: drank flat whites in the hipster cafes, visited my stomping grounds in the inner north, walked up Mt Taylor to see kangaroos and the view across the city.

My sister Anna in her studio.
My brother Alex on Mt Taylor.

After Christmas I went down to the South Coast for a few days over New Year’s. The forest on the Clyde and at the coast is the type of country I particularly miss and it was wonderful to see it and breathe it in. At the beach we were treated to a visit from friendly king parrots; we swam in the sea and enjoyed the forest, ate fish and chips and saw in the new year with the world’s smallest firework display from Bateman’s Bay.

King parrot!
Beach roos.
Cicada shell on ferns.
Eucalyptus forest.
Keytie at the beach.

Then it was time to go and catch up with Tanya and her family in New Zealand, but that is another story to come.

January 27, 2018

Starting off the ski season

It snowed a lot and early in Europe this year, which was a real pleasure. It snowed not only a lot in the mountains but a fair bit in Lausanne too. The busses wore chains and little snowplows came out of their hiding places to clean the footpaths. Afterwards most of the snow melted, while bits of it formed clear patches of slippery ice on the streets. We started our ski season with an early weekend at Saas Fee in late November. It was super cold and everything froze up, including Tanya’s hair.

This year we are more determined than ever to get out and do lots of ski touring, so we started soon after it was possible to go. Our first tour was to the safe and low summit of Les Monts Chevreuils. In the car park at Les Moulins it was a chilly -14 C!

From the top of Monts Chevreuils at 1749 m.

A second tour was to Le Chasseron (1607 m) from Ste-Croix in the Jura mountains. Right after we left the town it started bucketing snow, and we had absolutely perfect powder for the whole day. What a blast!

Christmas trees decked in snow.
Climbing on the flanks of Le Chasseron.
Frozen tree.
Summit views.
Looking back to Yverdon and Lac Neuchâtel.
December 27, 2017

End of year roundup

These are some things that happened during the last few months of 2017.

We went on a wonderful walk from Kandersteg to Jegertosse.

Balmhorn (3698 m) from Jegertosse.
Looking back to Kandersteg.

The sunsets in Lausanne got quite ridiculous as autumn came in. Here’s a timelapse taken from Tanya’s and my favourite bar in Lausanne, the Jetée de la Compagnie.

A post shared by Tim Raupach (@cutflat) on

We went to Düsseldorf to see Tanya’s parents who were visiting there.

In the Neanderthal valley.
German countryside.
Leaving Düsseldorf.

I went to Locarno for a workshop and spent a couple of days in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.

This mystery fruit was much commented on by workshop participants, and then disappeared in nefarious circumstances.

We rode our bikes to the Lac de Joux in the Jura mountains, to camp overnight and celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Starlings over autumn vines.
Lac Brenet, next to the Lac de Joux.

Tanya’s Dad Greg visited Switzerland and we walked together near Gimmelwald.

Tanya and Greg.
Three class peaks: Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau.
Crazy avalanche shelter in Stechelberg.

Tanya and I walked to the Pas de l’Illsee from Chandolin, and down to St-Luc.

Illsee, the illest see.
The Couronne de Zinal from afar.
Snowgun tests left weird and slippery piles of ice around the place.
The Matterhorn from near St-Luc.
Mélèzes en feu.

Later on, we walked from La Forclaz to Bréona in Val d’Hérens. Up high the snow was starting to stick around.

Oh, and we also went to the Moors near Manchester to visit our friends Andrew and Alex. Good times were had; here is a taste of the English countryside we walked through:

English sheep.
A famous grouse!
December 26, 2017
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Üssers Barrhorn

Üssers Barrhorn, at 3610 m, is (probably) the highest mountain in Switzerland accessible by an ordinary hiking track. The walk up crosses moraine and scree but no glaciers and nothing technical. The hike starts in Turtmanntal, the valley between Val d’Anniviers and the Mattertal, which has long been on our list of places to explore — so in September Tanya and I headed there to walk up the Barrhorn.

Turtmannsee and the Turtmanngletscher.

We started our walk from Hungerli Unnerstafel, at 1900 m. From there we quickly gained height, scooted around the Turmannsee, and got to the Turtmannhutte at 2519 m. From there the terrain was marmot-filled grassy slopes until we passed through a steep gully with chains and emerged at Gässi. Suddenly, we could see that we were gaining height on the glacial plateau of the Brunegggletscher (yes, it has three gs). I love how in the mountains it’s possible to move what seem like insurmountable features into the distance, and this just by taking one step after another.

Near Gässi.
Looking across the Brunegggletscher to Weisshorn behind.

Just after the 3000 m mark we took a left turn and followed a steeper path across frozen scree and snow underneath Inners Barrhorn, to join up with the main ridge and the last push to the summit of Üssers Barrhorn. Arriving above 3600 m, the altitude clearly made its presence felt.

Tanya tackling scree.

On the summit it was incredibly cold and there was a sharp wind blowing, but the view was just magnificent; we could see across to Weisshorn and Bishorn, the Brunegggletscher was spread out below us like an icy quilt, and to the other side the Dom hid its peak in the clouds. We ate a quick lunch while being closely watched by a rather hopeful alpine chough, and then headed down.

Summit views from Üssers Barrhorn at 3610 m.
Brunnegghorn (3833 m), Weisshorn (4505 m), and Bishorn (4153 m).
Brunegggletscher and Turtmanngletscher.
Peering down to the Undere Stelligletscher.
Chocard à bec jaune!
Tanya poses with bird.
Tanya photographs bird.
The Mischabel group.

It was after leaving the summit and walking along the higher path under Inners Barrhorn that we looked back and saw Üssers Barrhorn from its most spectacular angle. The ridge fairly drops away on one side and the mountain forms a giant wedge into the sky.

Üssers Barrhorn in all its glory.
Precipitous cliffs near Schöllijoch.
Walking down.
Closeup of part of the Brunnegggletscher.
Tanya in her element.

It was a long walk back to the car, but we made it in good spirits and having thoroughly enjoyed the hike. I mapped our path with the ever-reliable, and this walk was 21 km with a 1717 m climb from start to peak. What a fantastic day out!

Descending from Gässi.
December 11, 2017

La Luette sous les nuages

Keytie came to visit me and Tanya in September, and together we went into the Alps for a walk to La Luette. We left Lausanne early on a Saturday morning, and caught the classic yellow postbus up to Arolla. Nut-cracker birds sang from the Arolla Pines as we walked up through the valleys to the Pas de Chèvre for lunch.

Approaching the Pas de Chèvres (2854 m).

At the col it was snowing lightly; the path down to to the Vallée des Dix goes via steel ladders that were burningly cold to the touch. We crossed the Glacier de Cheilon, following markers put down by the good folks of the Cabane des Dix, and arrived at the cabin in time for a wander around the surroundings and a quick ramble up the ridge of the Tête Noire.

Stepping onto the Glacier de Cheilon.
Glacier power!
Arrival at the Cabane des Dix.
The amazing Cabane des Dix.
Keytie and Tanya on Tête Noire (2981 m), just next to the cabin.
Pigne d’Arolla (3790 m) pops out to say hi.
Moonscape near the cabin.

The next morning we got up early. Peering outside into the blackness, the stars were out and it was clear. But after our quick breakfast we looked out again to discover that it had started to snow heavily. As we set off to follow the moraine towards La Luette the ground was rapidly being covered by snow and we followed cairns to stick to the proper route.

Mont Blanc de Cheilon at dawn.

We arrived at the Glacier de la Luette just before dawn. The clouds were heavy and low and it was still snowing lightly, and even as the sky lightened the visibility was bad. We ended up waiting at the edge of the glacier for a long period before, finally, the clouds lifted enough that we felt comfortable to head up onto it. It was cold and while we waited we ran in circles and jumped up and down to keep warm.

Glacier de La Luette.
Glacier rest-stop.

The weather held as we got to the col and moved up to the summit of La Luette. Whereas the top had been bare rock the day before, it was now covered in snow which gave it a much more wintery air. At the summit it started to snow again and we didn’t waste any time before heading back down and off the glacier.

From the ridge, the view down to the Glacier du Giétro.
On the summit – 3548 m.
Looking down to the Lac des Dix.
Heading down.

On the way back to the cabin we were buzzed by a drone belonging to the cabin guardian, who wanted to see where we were up to. With the weather forecast to continue to change we ate a quick lunch and then started walking down to the Barrage des Dix.

La Luette from the cabin.
Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3870 m).

Just as predicted, rain and clouds started to appear from the west. As we descended the scenery regained its greenness. There was a herd of ibex high on a distant hill, and in the fields below the Swiss cows were entirely unfussed by the cold change. We contoured around the lake and arrived at the dam just as the snow started in earnest.

Amazing rock folds on a boulder next to the Lac des Dix.
Lac des Dix.
Frozen garden.

The weekend was fantastic — a great tour with wonderful company, a nice summit, about a thousand marmots, and weather that cooperated for the most part. You can’t really ask for more!

Snowflakes at the Barrage des Dix.
November 8, 2017
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From New York I flew to Chicago to attend and present my work at a research conference. My flight landed at dusk, and there was low cloud that gave the flat fields next to the city a dull grey air. The plane flew low over these fields for what seemed a long time, and after landing we taxied for a seriously long way to the terminal. Chicago gets full marks for having an excellent airport connection by train, and I was quickly in the centre of the city, where it dawned clear and blue the next day.

The Chicago River.
Skyscrapers, lots of skyscrapers.

Chicago’s a great city. I enjoyed learning about its architecture, ate a deep dish pizza, saw the city from high-up in the John Hancock Tower, and revelled in the public art scene. Here are some pictures from the stay.

View from the John Hancock building.
Impressive roof-top swimming pool.
This spider was on the outside of the 95th floor.
The John Hancock Building.
Dusk on the river.
The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) by Anish Kapoor.
Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa, in Millennium Park.
Cool street art.
Deer, by Tony Tasset.
Chicago skyline.
Flying back to Europe on a 747-8.
October 29, 2017

New York City

In late August, when it was still warm in the northern hemisphere, I spent a glorious few days in New York City on my way to a conference in Chicago. I flew direct from Geneva, which was an efficient way to go. I always love to follow the plane’s progress on the entertainment system map. On this flight, I particularly enjoyed the “context” map that showed no more information than the main one. I also noticed that the sites of famous shipwrecks were marked. Showing the location of the Titanic disaster strikes me as a particularly unlikely thing to think might be of interest to passengers who are, just for example, currently crossing the Atlantic.

So much context.
Nice patterns, just before landing at JFK.

I landed at JFK mid-afternoon on a sunny day, took the train to Penn Station, and stepped out into bustling Manhattan. I love New York City. Its energy is contagious. I hadn’t been there since 2006 and found that, happily, my memory of how awesome it is was accurate. In Union Square Park there were buskers of all types, dancers and bike riders, old people playing against young people at backgammon and chess, skaters, hippies, a guy practicing electric guitar. In Times Square one of the giant screens was advertising Switzerland’s peace and quiet. I wandered the West Village to see where Bob Dylan once hung out. Every neighbourhood has a story that’s still unfolding. I did a lot of walking: covered the High Line from end to end, explored the East and West Villages, saw squirrels in Central Park, walked through SoHo and Chinatown, crossed the financial district, wandered mid-town, and visited the hipsters in Williamsburg.

Window washers.
In another time and season, this was where the cover photo for
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was taken.
The PATH train station at the World Trade Center.
Lower Manhattan seen from the New Museum.

I visited MoMa, the New Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, which I found particularly powerful. At the Whitney there was an exhibition of Calder mobiles, which were breathtakingly gorgeous. At certain points during the day an attendant emerged to make these sculptures move, as per their original intent. The museum called this process “activating” them; I called it “poking them with a stick”. As well as the galleries, New York is of course filled with great public art and street art.

Tristan Eaton’s mural Liberty, Little Italy.
Tiger by Sonny.
214 Lafayette, Manhattan.
Yaaas Hillz! Williamsburg.
Street art in Williamsburg.
Spiderman by Space Invader! St Mark’s Place, East Village.
East Village.

I visited the Ground Zero Memorial and went to the viewing deck in the new One World Trade Center. The view was fantastic.

One World Trade Center.
Looking over to Brooklyn.
Sun and shadow.

One evening I went to the Brooklyn Bridge Park to get a view of the Manhattan skyline at sunset. Helicopters hovered above and there were hundreds of photographers with tripods. I ran the battery out on my iPhone taking panoramas.

Sunset over Lower Manhattan.

I walked back to Manhattan across Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge has a cycle way and pedestrian path next to each other, and the cries of frustrated cyclists yelling at misplaced walkers punctuated the night. One guy was reduced to letting out repeated high-pitched screams; to his credit it did work to clear the path a bit. The view of the city was so great by night that I walked the Brooklyn Bridge again the next day to see it during the daytime.

Brooklyn Bridge views.
Brooklyn Bridge.

It was a quick visit to New York, but a great one. I believe people when they say there is no other city like it. The energy, the food, the mix of cultures, the skyscrapers, the music — what a fantastic city!

Flying to Chicago. Bye for now, NYC.
October 29, 2017
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