I have been driven by a quote from the legendary mountaineer, Walt Unsworth, who said in part, “But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad…”
I have been discussing high altitude climbing with a number of people and organisations over the past twelve months and have been encouraged by the support and enthusiasm shown by all. I have been working specifically with Adventure Consultants in New Zealand, a company founded by Rob Hall, very professional and they have provided some great advice and insight to what is required, both mentally and physically.
I will be climbing in New Zealand in early and mid-2013, and in Nepal towards the end of 2013 on three, 6,000 metre peaks to assist in honing my skills. If all goes to plan I am aiming to join an expedition to climb Cho Oyu, situated in Tibet, in 2014. Cho Oyu is the world’s sixth highest peak, and one of the world’s fourteen 8,000 metre peaks. In between I may head to Alaska to climb Mt McKinley, often referred to as Denali for further experience.
And beyond this, well who knows, if I can pull that off, and it is a big ‘if’ mind you, than Mt Everest would be a possibility. And the goal I have set myself is to achieve the skills and fitness required where those with the ability to judge can say you would be a chance at giving that a go! And I’ve always said better to dream big, than not at all. That is the road-map, but journey’s often end at a totally different destination to the one you plan…
But putting aside the skills required, fitness plays a key role in this pursuit, and fortunately the type of training I undertake, which includes a strong emphasis on strength and weight training, combined with High Intensity Cardio (HIT) work, which comes from my rowing, fits perfectly like a glove. Over the past few months I have been doing a lot of endurance walking with a 30/35 kg pack, great training for those who care to give it a go. In fact I completed a 100 kilometre walk a couple of weeks ago, and there will be a few more of those coming up, in part, to simulate long-tiring days as many summit attempts involve 15-20 plus hour days.
Over the months ahead I will be back on the bike as it is a good cardiovascular builder. In fact, I have been reading about an Australian couple who both successfully climbed Mt Everest in 2007 and who took up competition cycling as a way of increasing their cardio-vascular capacity.
For me this is a journey, and it can only be made one step at a time, and the best advice I have been given is to enjoy every step, and let it take you where it wants to go! And whilst I am a big believer in the power of positive thinking, and goal setting, I am tempered by this advice, and it is a healthy life-style choice as it requires plenty of exercise, positive mental attitude and good nutrition, which can’t be a bad thing!
Oh, and Janet, my very supportive partner, said recently, ‘just as well money in the bank account isn’t too important to me’ – I kind of took that as a green light, but I’m yet to tell her how much my boots cost!