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12. June 2009 03:41
by Rene Pallesen
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Adam is here (another nephew)

12. June 2009 03:41 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

adam is here another nephew


Yesterday on the 11th June Adam was born by Kim's sister Dao. He is an impatient little bugger and decided to arrive two weeks early and later at night while all the other boys in the family were out watching the soccer match between Australia and Bahrain.

Suddenly Wednesday evening Dao called saying that she'd started going into labour. Normally Wednesday is my climbing night but luckily I was home this evening. Kim and I quickly picked up KC (Kims other sister) and they took the car (while I stayed with KC's kids) to go and pick up Dao and bring her to the hospital.

Adam and Family

She was in labour until after midnight and in the early hours Thursday arrived.

We all went there yesterday to have a look and both mother and child is doing fine. And Dylan (on the left in the photo) is excited to have a baby brother.






18. April 2009 05:35
by Rene Pallesen
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Climbing at Cathedral - I have been here before

18. April 2009 05:35 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

climbing at cathedral i have been here before


Today Andy and I went climbing at a place called Cathedral at Bangor in the southern part of Sydney.

None of us has been there before but according to the description we should park at the end of this street and then it would be a 5 minute scramble from there.

We found the start of the track ok, but 15 minutes later we were still bush bashing out way trying to spot markers that would indicate where the cliffs were.



Half way down I dropped my water bottle out of my backpack and it disappeared between some rocks. I went down to retrieve it and then we continued down the gully into dense rain forest full of impenetratable bamboo. After taking a couple of turns with dead-ends we could see glimses of the river. and after about a 25 minute walk we suddenly found ourselves on this really nice little beach.

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Andy mumbled that there was no way that he was going to go back the same way and he'd rather walk a big detour along the river. We could now see the cliffline and walked down to the end of the beach where we went back into the forest along a track that let us to the cliffs.

We could see why it was called The Cathedral.

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The cliffs are massive, intimidating and completely blank of any features that lend themselves to climbing. We had a hard time finding the various routes and started scrambling along the base at the cliffs. We got to the end of the cliffline and I shoulted "I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE!". Andy looked at me confused and asked "You've climbed here before". I replied..."No, I have been here before...This is where I dropped my waterbottle". DOOOHHH...we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we had turned left here instead of going straight...and suddenly then way back out didn't look so bad.

Anyway we couldn't figure out the climbs so I decided to jump onto a grade 21 climb called Imogen. I got to the first bolt and started moving up on really bad feet (small pebbles) going for a very long reach. Eventually my foothold broke and I slid down the side of the rock getting a sandpaper cut on my arm and leg. We decided to bail the climb and find something that was more suitable for warming up on.

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We scrambled down to the other end and found a number of grade 16...but eventually I settled for a climb called "Ozone Action (17 ***)" which is what is a mixed climb (part bolted and geared climbing).

This was a really good one. It was sustained at the grade and had everything in it...laybacks, chimney, mantel, overhang, slab, face climbing etc. If anyone does it then follow the advise and bring cams/slings....is it desperately run-out unless protected.


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I set up a belay at the top and Andy followed me up...with a big smile on his face. After this we absailed down to the grade 16's. All good fun...and I toproped something that I'm sure is harder.

After this it was time to pack up and head back.


16. April 2009 02:29
by Rene Pallesen
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Hunter Valley 2009

16. April 2009 02:29 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

hunter valley


This weekend we again drove up to the hunter valley about two hours drive North of Sydney. We left at 7am and met the other guys up there just after 9am.


This time we went a big group of us but only three of us were tasting wine. The others were taking photos.

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Kim and I have spent a fair amount of time in the Hunter Valley and have a lot of favourite wines in the area. This time we decided to try some new and smaller places that we hadn't been to before. The challenge is still to find a sub $20 bottle of wine that is really good. It is pretty hard...but not impossible.


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In total we went to 9 vineyards to taske their wines. Some of the favourites this time was Gartelmann (The Wilhelm Shiraz is a good buy) and Peterson Estate (Kim loooved the sparkling desert wine).

For lunch we went to a restaurant called The Verandah. They have a tapas style menu. The food was ok but a bit on the pricey side (but most of the . My favourite place in Hunter is a place called Mojo...but they are only open for dinner.

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Bimbadgen really let us down this time. They have some really good wines there, but the customer service was appalingly bad! They did not provide any assistance and were very rude (not just limited to one person there). I wanted to buy a couple of their wines but ended up walking away because there was no-one there to help.

6. April 2009 08:17
by Rene Pallesen
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Ethans Birthday 2009

6. April 2009 08:17 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

ethans birthday


This weekend it was Ethans 8th Birthday and his parents had organised a Birthday party for all his friends. As the last couple of years Kim and I was asked if we could facepaint the kids (We are not really good at face painting but the kids really don't care). Most of the kids had some degree of autism so just getting them to stand still while we paint them is a challenge.

The previous two years I was dressed up as a pirat but decided to do something something different this year. I wanted to come dressed as a monster (Ethan likes Monsters) but Kim though that I shouldn't scare the kids and that I should come as a joker instead. We bought a hat and some stripey tights...it looked really funny.



One of the parent though I was a paid helper when we arrived and started issuing me orders regarding that I really should be watching the kids so that they wouldn't injure themselves in the jumping castle that they had hired...he must have found it really unprofessional when I brushed him off ignoring his orders (I have a strong belief that kids should be allowed to be kids and that we in this modern age is too cautious protecting them)...and he must have felt really silly when he realised that I was a member of the family.



The rest of the day was spent playing games with the kids (They had good fun when I started spraying them with water with a water pistol...until I was told by the same parent that I should stop because the jumping castle was getting slippery).

The 'Donkeys Tail' game was a bit of a non-event...all the kids cheated and placed the tail where you would expect the tail to be. All credit to the kids...at least they know where the tail goes on animals.



After the party Kim wanted some alone time with me and we decided to go and watch a movie. There wasn't any good movies on that I wanted to watch so I let Kim decide...and we ended up watching a chick flick.


29. March 2009 09:26
by Rene Pallesen
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Guys and Dolls

29. March 2009 09:26 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

guys and dolls


Dolls are a Necessity...

Kim and I went with a couple of friends to Capitol Theatre to see Guys and Dolls. This was my christmas present from Kim ('give me experiences instead of objects').


It was really good...I think I prefer the lightheartedness of musicals to Operas. Capitol Theatre is one of the great theatres in Sydney. In inside decor is old and glamourous. The Dancing and the singing in the show was really good.




Poor guys...the Dolls seem to have the upper hand in this story.


In one of the roles was Kenny...from a famous Australian movie 'Kenny'. I have no idea what his real name is.

15. March 2009 10:56
by Rene Pallesen
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Climbing at Blue Bell (The Shire)

15. March 2009 10:56 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

climbing at blue bell the shire


This weekend Andy and I decided to explore a new climbing area in the Sydney Area (We are running out of places to climb within Sydney and sometime Sydney is too long a drive).

This time we decided on a small area called Blue Bell in the Southern part of Sydney in the Heathcote National Park.

Once we arrived we had to find the access to the cliffs. The carpark is almost on the top of the cliffs near houses, but the area doesn't get a lot of traffic so there is no good tracks. Eventually we found our way down with some a lot of bush bashing.

We decided to start on a couple of easier climbs on the Mini Wall where there was some grade 16 climbs (and 10/11's). They were far from being grade 16. The first two climbs (Anika 16 and Nathan 16) were harder than what they were graded at. Both Andy and I were finding it hard and agreed that the climbing felt more like a 18 or 19...and we were both thinking "what the fu.. is wrong there!". We then looked at who had graded the climbs and it turned out to be the same person a Jason Lammers. We decided that this may be one very dangerous Wanker and decided to take other climbs that he'd graded with caution (Next day I found another website describing the climb as being a lot harder...this guy graded it as a 6a = 19).

After this we moved to the main wall and did another climb at the same grade (Sparky 16) and this turned out to be really nice a cruisy and this would potentially be a good lear-to-lead climb for someone who is comfortable in the gym.

Blue Bell Main Wall

After this we moved onto a bit harder climb (Heathcote 18) graded by the same idiot Jason Lammers. Someone who is only just comfortable at this grade would be in real trouble here. The top move is really delicate; in fact so delicate that Andy were totally unable to complete the move and bailed after a a number of attempts (and a lot of falls).
I then tried the climb and eventually after a couple of falls managed to complete the move...and boy that is really balancy. You hand on to this slobing groove and then do a high stepup. you then balance your left hand up the wall until you reach a good hold up very high (as Andy put it: "A typical Rene move"). I would grade it as a 21 move...three grades harder that the wanker graded it.

We had a look at the climb next to it (Screaming Cookatoos 18) and decided to do this on a top rope given that the top move looked dubious and that we hadn't had much luck with grades.
Lucky that because the top move it really reachy and fairly thin. It would have taken a lot of commitment and knowing exactly where the only good hold is (which isn't great) to be able to complete it and then you still have to put a plate on the carrot bolt and clip it from this position before moving to the anchor. They really should have put a ring bolt here and they could have put the bolt a bit lover so it could be clipped from below protecting this move better.

By the way this area is a weird mix of Ring bolts, fixed hangers, ringbolts, gear, chain anchors, ring bolt anchors and topouts....great job guys!!! Anyway we had a really good day but we didn't dare try any of the many 19, 20, 21's (which is my comfortable lead limit) in the area as most of them were graded by the same guy. Without including these climbs the area is too small to return to in the near future.

28. February 2009 08:13
by Rene Pallesen
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Magic Flute Opera

28. February 2009 08:13 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

magic flute opera


Instead of a christmas present Kim gave me tickets for the opera. This year for the Magic Flute by Mozart.

Magic Flute


It was different from most of the other operas I've seen in that no-one dies in it and it wasn't one of this big tragegies.

She had gotten us some good seats with a good view of the stage...and we had a really nice evening out.

23. February 2009 08:18
by Rene Pallesen
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Ceiling Insulation

23. February 2009 08:18 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

ceiling insulation


The NSW government currently provides a rebate for anyone insulating their house ceilings.I had already considered doing it anyway as it does cool down the house during the summer and keeps it slightly warmer during the winter time.

The Insulated Ceiling

So I spent 5-6 evenings crawling around the roof cavity spreading out the insulation bats. Some of the ceiling was really hard to get to.


14. February 2009 08:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Valentines Day

14. February 2009 08:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

valentines day


What can I say? I don't like going out on Valentines Day, but I still enjoy a romantic evening out...so this year we decided to celebrate Valentines day evening before (And I gave Kim flowers the day before that...and they were so fresh that they kept for two weeks). We went to a nice little restaurant at Balmoral Beach called the Watermark.

Valentines Day

The food was really nice, the scenery was really nice (slight drizzle), the Wine was fantastic (Canonbah Shiraz 'Drought Reserve' 2004)...and lastly my beautiful wife was gorgeous as always.

5. February 2009 08:35
by Rene Pallesen
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Summer

5. February 2009 08:35 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

summer


Yeah...summer in Sydney. We have fantastic beaches here in Sydney and unfortunately we don't use them enough (Water is too cold). We did however manage to get to Maroubra beach a couple of afternoons this summer.

Maroubra Beach

Perfect Moments Photography | Potosi, The Mines - Bolivia

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12. March 2008 11:54
by Rene Pallesen
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Potosi, The Mines - Bolivia

12. March 2008 11:54 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

potosi the mines bolivia


Today was a really positive day compared to yesterday after I'd written my last post. We found an excellent restaurant (much better than most restaurants in Sydney) called El Meson...and the food was cheap as. For around USD 13 we got a three course dinner that was absolutely fantastic including drinks. It was so good that we decided to go back there tonight.

This morning we had to move hotel. We did try to extend one night at Hotel Eldorado...but everything in this town is fully booked. Late last night we had managed to put through a couple of bookings at other places, but the only one that came through was a local hostel...so this morning we moved there. It is a nice enough place...but the personnel is totally disinterested in providing a service (and no smiling please)...there is no heat in the room so it could be a cold night...but everything else is ok once you chase them for towels, blankets etc.
The told us that we couldn't have the room until 11.30am...so in the mean time we decided to go to the mint museum.

The Mint museum was really good. They had a lot of interesting items there and they provided an english speaking guide for free to explain how the silver was mined in Potosi, the historical significance as well as went through the whole process of producing silver coins which were produced in the same building (All the original equipment is still there). They also have a fantastic art collection there.
We joined the guided tour a bit late, but the guide was kind enough to repeat the first part of the collection so that we didn't miss out.

The highlight for Kim was when I made her a copper coin using an original minting stamp using a large hammer...she got to keep the coin as a souvernir.

After a lunch at La Plata (With the thickest hit chocolate we've ever seen...the spoon could stand upright) we went down to join a tour of the mines in Potosi. It turned out that Kim and I were the only ones on the tour and the guide spoke perfect English.

First we were fitted with overalls and helmets and afterwards the tour went to the miners market. I bought a stick of dynamite for around 5 Bolivianos (75 cents) and our guide gave Kim a fright when he threw the stick at her.

Click here for more photos Click here for more photos

Click here for more photos


After this we went to the processing plant where they do the first extraction of the metals from the rock. We saw how they crush the rock into a fine powder and then using various chemicals extract the metals from the rock as well as using gravity. All the chemicals and side products are then flushed into the Rio Negra where it then is washed into Paraguay and Argentina. Both BHP and Rio Tinto buy minerals from here processed in this way (It it great to see my shares at work). There are 42 such processing plans here in Potosi...because everything is working as coorporatives there is no investing in processing plants and machinery and the various plants refuse to work together although this would benefit everyone...but more about that later.

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Afterwards we drove up to the mine itself. We expected to be visiting a part of the mine that was no longer being used but this is not the case...the mine was fully functioning so once in a while we had to run for our lives to a location where the tunnel was wide enough for us to jump to the side when one of the small trains came zooming past.

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As we went further and further into the tunnels the gasses became thicker and thicker. I have never seen so many visible minerals in one location before...you could actually see the zinc, lead, copper, iron and bronce in the walls all over the place. The yellow sulphur was sitting in 2cm thick layers on the wall (but they don't mine this) and there was Albestos hanging in long threads off the ceiling all over the place and the air was think of asbestos dust.

Click here for more photos Click here for more photos




We were covering our mouthes with bandannas but running through the tunnels, the cramped places, the dust and the gasses in the air made it really hard to breathe through the bandanna (Remember that this is all happening at 4500 meters altitude where there is only 25% of the oxygen as at sea level...so there is not much air in the first place!). The miners themselves were chewing coca leaves to tolerate the gasses.


Click here for more photos Click here for more photos


Normally I would be fine, but at one point I thought I'd die and decided to not use the bandanna (I'd rather die young than die instantly)...and at this point we were still only on the first level (3 additional levels and appx 80 meters below us).

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We got to a 20 meter almost vertical tunnel and halfway down we took a break where we got the chance to ask a lot of questions about the mine. We also asked if the gasses became worse than here and the reply was yes. We were also told that the tunnels were very similar so Kim and I decided that we'd had enough and would like to breathe clean air...also because the mines are still working and a lot of the supporting structures are from the colonial spanish times 350 years ago the mines are really dangerous places.

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On the way out we say how the used an old electric motor to pull up the rocks from 80 meters below to our level and then dump it onto the trains. They actually have a champer above the level and then use a big hole in the floor to fill the trains...unsuspecting I walked across the pile 2 minutes prior to them opening up the while whereafter a 1 meter whole appeared in the floor.

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The whole mountain has got more than 700 mines most existing several hundred years where more than 400 of them are in use today. There is no backfilling taking place and there are no geologists or engineers working on stabilising the mines so the whole place is like a swiss cheese that can collapse any time.

Each individual mine is working as a small collective of maybe 50 miners. There is no coordination between the different mines and most regard eachother as enemies. Because of this they still use old inefficient and very dangerous mining methods and equipment. If they instead coordinated their efforts they would be able to mine the whole mountain in a very modern way which would benefit the whole town and actually earn the individual miners 50-100 more money than they do today. The same goes for the processing plants as they currently don't extract the minerals efficiently and have too high production costs. They haven't even bothered exploring the area for other mining sites, but instead mine the same mountain they have done for several hundred years.

The average age in the mine is 25 years old. The youngest is 10 years old and the estimated lifespan is about 10 years before dying from lung cancer from inhaling gasses and asbestos. The miners are chewing coca leaves and their eyes are blood red. On the weekend they drink 96% pure alcohol (50 cents a bottle).

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For both Kim and I it was real eye openers...we now love our 9-5 jobs. I think everyone should at least once in their life try and enter such a mine...but for me...never again.

Was it a positive experience? Yes absolutely...I have always wanted to see these mines with my own eyes how dangerous they are. Are they dangerous...yes undescribable...I cannot describe with words what a horrible feeling it was just being on the first level of these mines. I have been in other mines and enjoyed it immensely...but this was truly scary and awful. It took several hours before I could breathe normally again from inhaling all the dust and sulpher gasses.


One more night in Potosi and then we continue to Sucre. Click here to see more photos from Bolivia
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