Friendships from ‘doing stuff’

As the Greengates lift whisked my friend Chris and me up the mountain, we admired this winter’s magnificent snow cover and remarked on the Lunch Rocks along the ridge, where almost 50 years ago we would sit and admire the view to Vanguard Peak and beyond while munching our sandwiches, washed down with a pint bottle of beer.

This year, Coronet Peak celebrates its 75th birthday.

Scattered on the hill below the base building we could see a collection of huts built over the years by groups of enthusiastic club members after they moved on from their original ski huts on the Garvie, Old Man and Rock and Pillar Ranges.

A new generation from local schools now use the huts for their snowsports camps.

Clyde students would often say that staying in the Vincent Hut was one of the special memories of their primary school days. It was so satisfying to see them develop resilience, independence and social skills through their mountain experience.

Happy birthday Coronet Peak and thank you for some wonderful memories.

My lifelong interest in outdoor pursuits, particularly gliding and skiing, have kept me connected to a group of friends for over 50 years.

We learned to fly together at 16 as Air Training Corps (ATC) cadets, and when students we would take the Friday evening railcar to Arthurs Pass for a ski week at Temple Basin.

On one memorable night the railcar ploughed into a snowdrift in a norwest storm and was stuck fast for the night.

British comedian Max Dickins recently spoke to Jim Mora on RNZ National about a book he has written on male friendships.

He compared female friendships, which tend to be face-to-face and based around talk, with male friendships, which are more about doing stuff together. Consequently, male friendships are harder to maintain as life patterns change, to the detriment of men’s wellbeing, Dickens said.

‘‘We know that your physical health is affected by loneliness and that not having friends is worse for you than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, obesity or drinking to excess.’’

When writing his book, Dickens spoke to Dr Robin Dunbar, regarded as an expert on friendship research.

His tip was for men to avoid loneliness by joining a club, as it provides a structure that you can repeatedly go back to.

I was very fortunate to have my interests and passions encouraged and fostered as a young man.

It has resulted in some lifelong friendships which developed when we got out and ‘‘did stuff together’’.