Dear Aunty Iceaxe

Last winter I went tramping in the hills with the CTC. Unfortunately it started to snow horizontally and I spent three days trapped in a hut with 6 seasoned trampers. Finding conversation topics was quite challenging. I fear they were not interested in my croquet club triumphs or the disaster at the Cashmere ladies mid week badminton tournament. Indeed they appeared to be avoiding me for months afterwards.

What can I do to prevent this? What are suitable conversation topics for such a situation?


Dear Regretful

Ask to see their equipment. No one can resist such a request, especially if uttered in polite, interested tones. Before you know it, the entire group will be engaged in deep conversation comparing size, durability and trips they've used it on. If the conversation starts to lag after 10 hours, casually ask someone to explain the relative merits of one tool compared to another and that will set them off for the second day.

Another tactic is to hold the map upside down, peer at it vaguely and ask for your current location. They will spend hours talking about north, magnetic north, true north, true left, true right, gridlines, altitude and GPS units.

By the time the weather clears you will have learnt who has the best equipment, how to use it, how to navigate, and be on good terms with all.

Aunty Ice Axe