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Meet Sarah Morrison

Sarah thrives off being in the mountains - whether it be climbing, hiking, or ski touring. She has set herself an audacious goal for 2023: to climb 52 peaks over 1,000 metres high. She's called the challenge 'Mountains for Mental Health', as Sarah seeks to increase awareness about mental health and raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation in New Zealand.

Sarah Morrison Roam Athlete Mountaineer

Getting to know Sarah: A Quick Q&A

How did you get into hiking and mountaineering?
I've been a hiker since childhood, thanks to my dad who took me on various adventures. I got into climbing in 2020, through the Auckland Uni Rock and Alpine Club. I took a beginner mountaineering course and spent a season wandering around Ruapehu (mainly in white-out) before heading to the Southern Alps in the South Island for the first time. That experience made me fall in love with the sport and the mountains. 

Do you have tips for aspiring mountaineers?
Mountaineering can be a daunting sport to get into, as it demands a varied skill set. Plus gear and course fees can be costly. I was lucky to access a university club with gear hire and subsidised course fees.

My advice for anyone interested in mountaineering is to join local Facebook climbing groups and learn basic rope skills (offering to belay more experienced climbers can help to develop your own skills). Try off-track tramping that's within your skill range and build up general fitness and elevation training.

Also, join your local branch of New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC) and attend an avalanche and snow skills course. Keep an eye out for free club events, and  Facebook climbing groups for cheap gear resales. If you’re super stoked about getting out into the mountains you will naturally attract other people who are too and adventures will grow from there!

Hiking with Friends Roam

What's your goal for this year?
My goal is to summit 52 peaks over 1,000m high to raise funds and awareness for those fighting an uphill battle with their mental health! I'm over halfway and have summited 28 peaks (and counting). 

I have a Master's in Psychology and am passionate about mental health care. For me, getting outdoors and climbing mountains is what supports my mental health and has helped me through tough moments.

Making memories with friends, whether it be having fun outdoors, or trudging a never-ending uphill at 2 a.m., helps me to get through difficult periods and remember that even if the uphill seems to go on forever,  it will end and it will get easier.

I am raising funds and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation as part of this challenge that I've called Mountains for Mental Health. My goal is to show people the power of nature and adventure in supporting all aspects of your well-being and to show that New Zealand’s beautiful outdoors is accessible to people of all skill levels. 

In terms of mountaineering goals, I'm continuing to refine my climbing skills in the hopes of completing some exciting routes this or next season. A couple of routes I've got on the list include the north shoulder of Tasman, the west ridge of Aoraki, the southwest ridge of Mt Aspiring, and the north ridge of Mt Sefton.

What's one tip you wish you knew when you started training?

No trip will ever go fully to plan and that’s how you learn! Being adaptable and developing skills in the mountains so that you can react to changing conditions and unforeseen challenges is the true goal, not just reaching the summit. 

Chocolate Energy Nut Butter in the Mountains Roam

Your go-to Roam product?
Ooh, it’s such a tough choice between Chocolate Energy Nut Butter or Chocolate Protein (can you tell I’m a chocolate fan!?). One for adventure and one for recovery, I just can’t choose!

Your favourite amp song for training or racing?
It’s not really an amp song, but whenever the long walk back out a river valley gets too much, my mountain crew puts on Fishmans ‘Walking In The Rhythm’ and it instantly lifts the mood!

Your top recovery tip?
Listen to your body! If you’re feeling sore, you probably need to refuel and rest more before diving back into training. 

Any fun facts about yourself?
I’m a huge fan of choss soloing. There’s just something so fun about climbing up rock where the best holds are the ones you have to put back.

If you don’t understand that saying, try summer alpine scrambling around Aoraki or Arthur’s pass and you’ll soon find that most of the rock on the main divide is not solidly attached.

  • Sarah has been refining her ice climbing skills this winter

  • Views from one of many peaks

  • Pick-me ups on a chilly excursion

Follow Sarah's Journey

On Instagram: @sarah.kmorrison

Via her blog: www.adventuregirlaotearoa.com

Donate to her cause: Givealittle

Sarah's Favourite Song For The Trail

Sarah's Roam Favourites