A month in a snow cave
Sun, 12 Aug 2012 6:31p.m.
By Leanne Malcolm
Blair Whittaker has set out on a remarkable mission.
He has given up his creature comforts for a month and is bedding down in an icy cave on the Remarkables to raise money for life-saving avalanche dogs.
Mr Whittaker spent eight hours digging just to get settled in for his first night last night, and it'll be a couple more days before the 33-year-old kits his snow cave out properly with shelves and a bit more height to allow easier movement.
“I guess my friends will vouch they've called me crazy all my life. I thrive on challenges and this is just another challenge in my life I guess,” he says.
Even before it was finished, the cave was attracting plenty of attention and donations for the Aspiring Avalanche Dogs which work throughout the southern lakes region.
But as the hordes make their way off the mountain in search of hot food and drink an eerie silence falls over the slopes.
Mr Whittaker says the days will be fine as he chats to skiers about the work of the avalanche dogs, but he's worried about the isolation at night.
“I really wish that my son could come up and stay – Jackson. I do miss him and it would’ve been good to have him up here for a night to spend some time with me.”
But maybe he wouldn't cope with the freeze-dried dinners.
Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence says Blair will not have access to any base building facilities; he's on his own.
“We don't want to make it too easy for him and he appreciates that. The whole idea of being out here is the remoteness of it and the isolation of it.”
Farewelling his friends and fellow diggers for the evening, Mr Whittaker acknowledges that the loneliness hits home.
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