Reblog of interview with East Gippsland Outdoors editor Andrew Barnes

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I didn’t want to loose this so have re-blogged here.

EGO is going to post occasional interviews with ‘local adventurers’. First into the public EGO eye is Bairnsdale local Mick “Boris” Beckers. Boris is a relaxed, 38 year old bloke: a Fire Management Officer with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, a Level 2 Operations Officer and an Air Attack Supervisor.

When interviewed, he was asked if he worries much when fire fighting and he replied, “Try not to. Worrying takes energy that could be better directed to achieve a result.” EGO’s ‘no worries’ interview progressed into some deep questions which he replied with deep answers.

EAST GIPPSLAND OUTDOORS (EGO): Where have you lived your life Boris?

BORIS: “I grew up in Melbourne before leaving home and heading to Ballarat and Melbourne for uni studies. After uni I chased work to Gippsland, initially at Erica before moving further East. I’ve lived in East Gippy for 15 years, enjoying time in Bendoc, Orbost, Marlo and now Bairnsdale.”

EGO : So you grew up in suburban Melbourne and have lived your entire life in Victoria. We thought you were an international adventurer?

BORIS: “Well, some of my best adventures have been overseas. I travelled and lived in Europe and have done all sorts of stuff in places like New Zealand, Nepal, India and Canada.”

EGO: What do you mean by ‘doing all sorts of stuff’?
BORIS: “Well, I like to think of myself as a mountain climber. I’ve climbed Mount Aspiring in New Zealand and five peaks in Nepal upto 6200m, equvilent to camp 1 on everest. Rock climbed at Hampi in India, and all over Victoria and New South Wales. I have to say, my best ‘cultural adventure’ was pilgrimage  through India: colourful sights, chaos and a plethora of smells smacking you in the face! That place puts our comfortable Aussie world into perspective and you learn very quickly what is really important in life.”

“I’ve travelled all over Australia, from central deserts to tropical rainforests. And I love the challenge of remote bushwalks in places like Tassie where I’ve walked the South West Cape, Western and Eastern Arthurs and climbed Federation Peak.”

EGO: What created your passion for the outdoors?

BORIS: “Funny, but my childhood house was next door to a scout hall. From about six years I climbed the fence to check out all the cool things they were making with knots and poles. I joined as soon as I could and was introduced to camping and bushwalking. We moved to Emerald where our house backed onto a bush reserve and my brother and I were always outside, building tree houses, abseiling the local quarry on polypro ropes and homemade krabs, building campfires and cooking hot chocolate. From around 15 years old I would load up a pack, jump on my bike and take off for the weekend. Later I joined Army Cadets where I was introduced to rock-climbing and abseiling and love it. “

EGO: You’ve been an adventurer for quite a while. What do you miss about the ‘old days’?
BORIS: “The simplicity. The times when you could just pack a kit and go. The free reign that kids used to have and the carefree attitude to risk management. Society has become so ‘over the top’ with risk management – it sickens me – I guess that’s part of my current passion for remote out of the way places; away from all the modern crap!”

EGO: Does that mean you don’t like the modern era?

BORIS: “No, no. The modern era brings in great innovations. The internet provides access to information for researching the next trip and sourcing satellite photos and real time weather information. I like reading peoples blogs and trip notes. And digital photography, with the ability to see what you captured, learn instantly and adjust what you need to.”

EGO: Has embracing modern technology changed your attitude to outdoor adventuring?

BORIS: “Yes. For good and bad. Especially for good, the adoption of ultralight bushwalking gear and techniques. The advancements in materials have shed kilos off the gear I carry out bush”

EGO: Are you still passionate about the same outdoor sports as when you were a teenager?

BORIS: “Yes I am. I love my bushwalking, rock climbing, mountain biking and backcountry snowboarding, but my top passion is for mountaineering.”

EGO: You would have experienced some scary moments while mountain climbing?

BORIS: “A couple of moments when climbing Mt Aspiring in New Zealand. The first was negotiating a serac on a section of the mountain called the Ramp. The terrain was very steep and icy, around 70-80 degrees. The serac had come away from the rock leaving a large gap behind it and threatening to collapse into a crevasse. No other way around other than to climb over it and the thought of it ripping away and sending us into the crevasse had to be blocked out.”

“The second moment, descending late in the season meant there was a massive crevasse high up on the French Quarter Deck. Too wide to negotiate and too deep to allow a descent, meant we were forced to the very edge of the glacier. The terminal face where the ice collapses and falls 1000m to the valley below. Dangerous. Scary. Negotiating narrow ice bridges with black chasms below. Wow!”

EGO: After being in such dangerous situations where death is possible, does something called God enter your mind?

BORIS: “No it doesn’t. Especially when climbing I’m just completely focused on the present, the here and now; what is in front on me and what I need to do next. Life is just really simple when climbing. I am in awe of the universe though and marvel at just how massive everything is, but I don’t think we humans are that special enough to require gods to explain our creation or situation. I would have to say though that I’m agnostic, in that if you show me enough evidence to counter what I already have I could be convinced. Religion gave humans some great ethics to live by and we need to live by them but I think man invented God.”

EGO: So, to ask you a cliché, what is the meaning of life?

BORIS: “The meaning of human life is in the doing. Life is seeing, dreaming, deciding and doing. Choose an adventure, however small, then begin it. Grasp and appreciate the authentic bits as you go. Finish it somewhere along the way.”

EGO: Do you have adventure heroes?

BORIS: “Yep. There are many people who inspire me, who have exceptional personal qualities that I admire. Climbers like Chris Sharma, Reinhold Messner and Greg Mortimer. And in triathlon those amazing super humans that push beyond what was previously thought possible, like Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander. And John Muir, the American photographer who campaigned hard to save wilderness areas. There are just so many people I consider heroes – too many to mention here but because I’m a drummer I have to mention my drum heroes; Danny Carey and Thomas Lang!”

EGO: Why do you live in East Gippsland?

BORIS: “It has everything I need. Forests, oceans, estuaries, bike tracks, the odd bit of rock, the Alps, gorges and the Snowy River. And most importantly, great, like-minded people. And it gives me freedom. I have been very lucky with the circumstances that I find myself in. I can do anything in my life. It is mine and I am free to decide what to do. And, most important, it gives me space to play my drums fast and furious, jamming with other people!”

EGO: What’s the best thing that has happened in your life that does not involve outdoor adventuring?

BORIS: “Absolutely meeting Jacinta, my partner and best friend for over 15 years.”

EGO: And, the most important question, what’s your favourite food?

BORIS: “Pizza. Any type, any time. What about now…. would you like some? Well then, let’s go have one!”




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