High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

everest-top

 I have been researching the impact that high altitude climbing will have on my body, what I can expect, what I can do to assist my body’s ability to cope.

And importantly, to be able to recognise the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness in its more serious forms.

Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS as it is often referred to, is the effect the declining number of molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere has on our body as we ascend in altitude. It can range from a mild illness, to the more severe life-threatening forms of the illness, such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

The latter two conditions require immediate attention and descent from altitude otherwise death is the most likely outcome.

I’m not intending to go into a great discussion on either, nor am I qualified to do so, but as part of my journey “To Climb a Mountain” I want to gain a better understanding of both conditions.

High altitude is defined as 5,000 to 11,500 feet, very high altitude 11,500 to 18,000, and extreme altitude as 18,000 feet and above.  At extreme altitudes physiologic function will outstrip  acclimatisation eventually.

My reading has taken me across a wide variety of topics, but the one that caught my attention was the connection between muscle and the requirement to fuel our muscles with oxygen when under exertion.

Over the years I have trained as a power-lifter for strength purposes and I have achieved results I am happy with.  As a consequence I have grown muscularly and currently weigh-in around the 95 kilogram mark.  This has given me a good power-for-weight ratio and has enhanced my speed on the kayak over the short to mid sprint distances.

Power-lifting has helped me develop strong legs, especially my quads through squatting, and dead-lifting.

Will this muscle help, or hinder me on the mountain as I trudge up the side of an 8,000 metre peak?

When exercising, the body, or more specifically the contracting muscles have an increased need for oxygen and this is usually achieved by a higher blood flow to these muscles.

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

Due to the less dense air at altitude the number of oxygen molecules for any given mass of air will drop. Consequently, mental and physical performance will decline, and the larger the muscles, the larger the requirement for oxygen to prevent muscular fatigue…

So what can I do?

There is not a lot that you can do to prepare for the effect of AMS, some people will adapt and perform better at altitude than others and this is hard to predict from one individual to another.

What I can do is decrease my muscle mass, and whilst that will mean a decrease in overall strength I can try and maintain the power for weight ratio balance.

The upshot of all this is that ahead of my expedition to Nepal in April I will deliberately take around 10-12 kilograms out of my frame…

The climbs in Nepal will be done without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

I won’t be changing my training routine greatly, I will maintain some weight training, rowing and kayaking, and importantly, a daily walk of around 10-kilometres with a 25-kilogram backpack at silly o’clock in the morning (that is 4:00am).

The best way to control weight change, either gaining, or losing, is via your diet and that starts in the  kitchen.

Baz – The Landy (In my home gym in the “Shed”)

 

Angels, Friends and Lovers

Recently someone asked who is the “Janet” that regularly features in my stories, and suggesting she must be an Angel from above to put up with me.

Um, no it wasn’t Clare, Janet’s mother, but crikey, wouldn’t we be rich if a had a dollar for every time she has, bless her soul…

But just like Tinkerbell, Janet is sweet and sassy, a friend to all…

Literally, the girl next door, yep over the back fence next door, Janet (Planet) and I have been friends for a lifetime…

…Having fun, flying and jumping out of planes together, abseiling off tall buildings, and trekking through some of the wildest jungles on the planet in Papua New Guinea, where we lived for a number of years…

Other times you’ll see us sitting quietly around a camp fire, soaking up the Australian Outback as the sun slips below the western horizon with not another soul in sight for hundred’s of kilometres…

And in those tender moments, spending the night in a lover’s embrace on a remote South Pacific Island.

Strewth, we would not have it any other way.

And TomO, well he’s the jewel in our lives, the creation of the heady mix of two young lovers and remote South Pacific Island’s…

And rest assured, he seems to have our sense of adventure and has already suggested he will stand on top of Mount Everest with me…

Dream big and it will happen I say, so don’t rule it out…that journey is well under way!

Of course, we can’t leave out our best friend, Milo, the wonder dog! The world’s most lovable Border Collie…

In Janet’s words – You boys don’t know how lucky you are…

And ain’t that the truth!

Ps: We’re off to a remote exotic island in the South Pacific in a couple of weeks time 😉

Baz, The Landy

Nice of you to drop in

 

Baz and Janet, AMP Building, Sydney, Australia
Baz and Janet-Planet, AMP Building, Sydney, Australia

Putting in a couple of leave applications the other day to cover my two climbing expeditions to Nepal in 2015 turned out to be a lot of fun…

My boss, let’s just call him Wayne, he’s a keeper, can’t afford to lose him!

“Baz”

“Yeah Wayne”

“Might be nice if you could drop into the office and do some work occasionally Baz, but don’t let it get in the way of your endless holidays, and how about you call me boss, just for once”

“Sure Wayne, I’ll make some arrangements”

“Janet?”

“Yes Baz?”

“You doing anything, the boss wants me to drop into the office”

“Just lattes with the girls”

“Meet me at the office, and um, bring the ropes”

“Ooo, we playing those games again, you naughty boy”

“No, well yes, if you like, but not just now”

“Hey Wayne, I mean, Boss, I thought I’d just drop in to see if you’ve signed those leave forms yet”.

These photographs show Janet-Planet (isn’t she awesome!) and me abseiling down the AMP Building, Sydney, Australia, in support of a charity fund raising day!

 Baz, The Landy

 

 

 

Feed the Rat (It’s gnawing away)

 

Baz - The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Since a young  age I have been fascinated by the majestic beauty of mountains, of the peaks that poke through the clouds reaching ever higher into a deep blue sky.

Growing up in Australia has had mountaineering limitations given our highest is Mt Kosciuszko, a mere 2,228 metres high.

So I contented myself with walking through and over the hills and mountains, developing a love of the Australian Bush, the magnificent Australian Bush…

Like an unsatisfied lover, in recent years I started to look further afield with a desire to experience more from my affair with the mountains…

Three years ago I commenced training designed to assist and enable me to contemplate  climbing an 8,000 metre peak in the Himalayan Mountain Range.  The mountain of choice Cho Oyu borders Tibet and Nepal and is the world’s sixth highest mountain peak and possibly the most accessible of the world’s fourteen 8,000 metre peaks.

The fun is in the journey, right?

I have had some great times developing my rope skills climbing in the Blue Mountains not far from Sydney as well as undertaking an extreme fitness regime.

And talk about a good laugh here and there, strewth, I can’t even tie my shoelaces properly (it’s a long story) but here I am tying myself off on vertical rock-faces!

 

Unfortunately injuries over the past year or more proved to be a significant setback and at times had me questioning whether I should continue!  But the injuries are now behind me and a solid fitness regime is under way to get me on track!

My head is back in the right place, the switch has been flicked once again…

And crikey, the “rat” is gnawing away and it needs to be fed – that’s a good sign, for me anyway, as Janet rolls her eyes with a wry smile breaking through ever so slyly.

Janet knows the rat well, it has led us on many wonderful adventures…

And how good is New Zealand’s Southern Alps playground – truly a mountaineer’s playground.

After a reasonably steep multi-pitch climb I crossed this snow covered Arête in the cover photo on the way to the summit of Auroa.

Whenever I view this photograph it reminds me that “standing back from the edge is safe, but the view is never as good” – it reminds me what I love so much about the mountains, it inspires me to pursue my goal…

So, one step at a time, let’s do this together!

Baz – The Landy

Standing back from the edge is safe (But the view is never as good)

 

Baz - The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – The Landy, Southern Alps, New Zealand

After a reasonably steep multi-pitch climb I crossed this snow covered Arête on the way to the summit of Auroa Peak in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

What a great playground, hey?

Baz – The Landy

Those who don’t think it can be done (shouldn’t bother the person doing it)

 DSCN0576“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.” Walt Unsworth.

Walt must have had me in mind when he penned that!

I’m gearing back up, slowly but surely and aiming for a Himalayan trip to climb three 6,000 metre peaks in the not too distant future

And of course, Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest and one of fourteen 8,000 metre peaks, still beckons…

DSCN0282

This has been my goal for sometime and you might be left wondering when is Baz going to get around to doing it…and I must say I’m a bit behind schedule after the injuries and personal setbacks of the past twelve months – but I’m getting it back on track, slowly, but surely!

In the meantime I’ll be travelling in Australia’s wonderful outback in June and July, including a crossing of Australia’s Great Victoria Desert and a visit to the site of the Atomic Bomb testing from the 1950s– so be sure to stay in touch!

Welford NP Sand Dune 1

And crikey, just remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops…

Photos: Baz, The Landy, and Janet Planet

Living the Dream (You have imagined)

Southern Alps, New Zealand

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined…”

Henry David Thoreau

Sound advice Henry!

Photo: Baz, Climbing on Fox Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand

No ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives (A note from a wonderful son)

How lucky am I
No ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives

“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…”

 These are words penned by the legendary mountaineer, Walt Unsworth, and they have had a profound effect on me since I read them a number of years ago.

These words summed me up perfectly, I thought.

I’m sure many will be able to relate to them equally, regardless of what your pursuits are…

Over the years I have pursued a whole range of activities, some adventurous, others less so – but I have always been driven by a desire to simply embrace life…

And I have never considered myself an expert in any of them, but it has always been a fierce determination that has seen me through; a strong faith in my ability to grasp the key things, to put them into practice.

I’ve never considered anything I’ve done as a failure, but I’ve had plenty of learning experiences, set-backs that have helped me to learn, to grow, and to develop. I’m thankful for those set-backs, as they have made me stronger.

 Eccentric; mad; yes, I’ve been referred in that way many times.

 Today, I wear those comments proudly, like a badge.

 Walt’s words have encouraged me to have the confidence to pursue my dream of climbing large mountains, to consider making an attempt on the summit of Mt Everest, in the least, to have the courage to admit that I want to climb it.

Every day on Wordspress, millions of words are written by ordinary people, stories about the challenges life has thrown at them, what they have done, and continue to do to overcome them.

About their dreams and aspirations; their highs and their lows…

Ordinary people who want to improve their fitness, to lose weight, to cycle across a city,  or across the world.

Many have their sights set on a fun run, and others having completed one, setting their sights towards running a marathon.

For others, it is their challenge to become stronger, to be able to lift more, or about capturing that once in a life-time photograph, perhaps testing a new recipe to share with friends, or with people they have never met.

Others talk about health and lifestyle challenges they struggle with, that they have overcome.

I read as many of them as I can, they motivate me and they provide me with much needed inspiration…

Seemingly, there is always someone in this cyberspace community ready to reach out, to congratulate, to console…

Usually these people aren’t super-elite athletes, or neither five-star chefs, nor are they fitness gurus.

They have a much greater status than that, for they are simply ordinary people, the same people that Walt Unsworth wrote about when he penned those words…

To those who aspire to do their best, to challenge themselves, I say never give in, you’re not alone out there, dream big, and pursue your dreams…

But on ordinary people, yes I’ve referred to people as ordinary, but in reality, there is no such thing as ordinary people, we are all unique, we all contribute to the mosaic that makes up the world we live in…

It would be a boring place if we were all the same…

We’d never learn, grow, or develop as people.

Take the time to read over Walt’s musings a couple of times, because he was speaking about you…

Draw on the strength of his writing, it is powerful…

Above all else remember,

There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

Baz – The Landy

Success Isn’t Permanent (And Failure Isn’t fatal)

Not a bad thought to keep in mind, and it is one of the things I like to remind myself of each day as I chase my dreams…

 

Those who don’t think it can be done (shouldn’t bother the person doing it)

Grey's Peak New Zealand

 “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…” Walt Unsworth.

 I’m gearing back up, slowly but surely…

Initially into the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, for some rock climbing to hone the skills and aiming for a Nepal trip to climb three 6,000 metre peaks in November.

Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest and one of fourteen 8,000 metre peaks, beckons in 2015…

Sweet Dreams, Blue Montains

This has been my goal for sometime I’m just one-year behind after the injuries and some personal setbacks over the past twelve months.

But I’ll be doing plenty of travel in Australia’s wonderful outback over the coming months also – so be sure to stay in touch!

Welford NP Sand Dune 1

And crikey, if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops…

Photos: Baz, The Landy, and Janet Planet

Chanel No. 5 (Chanel No. 30)

Janet - she's wonderful!

They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and exquisite perfume is probably not too far behind in the “pecking order”.

This weekend past, Janet, my beautiful partner and mother to our equally beautiful son, TomO, celebrated a significant milestone by turning fifty-years young!

Janet & TomO

Anyone who knows Janet would be in disbelief, unless they were aware, and of course it gives weight to my view that “how old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you were”?

Never mind, she is not fazed by it, and nor should she be as every year she blossoms even more so than the last, like a rose, timeless, delicate…

Not that she is a wallflower, not by any measure, we’ve jumped out of planes together, chasing each other across the wild blue sky, we’ve leaped tall buildings in a single-bound in a race to the ground, she always wins…

Janet - An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia
Janet – An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia
Janet - she's no wall flower
Janet, waving, down here Baz – Catch me if you can!
Janet beats Baz down the AMP Tower, Sydney Australia
Janet beats Baz down the AMP Tower, Sydney Australia (Again!)

We celebrated in style with a cocktail party, “glammed-up” with family and friends.

Yes, I did buy a brand new black Tee shirt for the event.

Family and Friends – At “Dinsmore” our home

And Janet loves a party, I wouldn’t call her a party girl, but she loves being around wonderful family and friends, all of whom adore her.

Crikey, didn’t I luck out by living next-door to Janet, yes, Janet was literally the “girl next door” and our coming together simply developed over time.

But how is this, Janet is a wonderful gardener and mows our lawn each week, strewth, if I was to go near the lawn mower I would incur her wrath, okay, a slap on the wrist…

Seriously, going down to see Bluey and the boy’s at the local footy club for a few beers is quite okay, but don’t you go touching that lawn mower Baz!

Anyway, in amongst the birthday celebrations, Janet and I held each other, and remembered that day thirty years ago, yes on her birthday, when I asked her to marry me!

Janet and Baz
Stunningly beautiful 

Most people were surprised and didn’t actually know until I gave a small speech!

She said “yes”, phew!

I never buy lottery tickets, or gamble, after all my luck was all used up on that beautiful day…

I shared our story, of giving Janet a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume on that birthday, and there was a quip from the gathered that I must have flogged it, ‘cause there was no way I could have afforded it back then!

It was worth every cent I scratched together, and every birthday since that is what I have given Janet on her birthday.

But a couple of weeks ago, I asked here, “what do I buy you on this very special occasion”?

Janet - cheeky as ever
And that cheeky little grin

Janet looked at me, in her cheeky little way and said, “you know, it is traditional, I wouldn’t want anything else”!

So sweetie, Chanel No. 30 it is!

Happy birthday!

Dope on a Rope – Dreaming of “Sweet-Dreams”

Baz climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia

Last night I dreamt I was back in the Blue Mountains climbing “Sweet Dreams” in the spectacular Blue Mountains, Australia…

And if you are going to dream, it might as well be a sweet dream!

I’m taking it as a good sign!

The foot is recovering extremely well from the surgery and clearly the desire to return is prodding my subconscious!

Perhaps, Brian, my father, is providing some divine intervention already, after all he spent a life time helping others and I can’t imagine he is going to stop just because he’s now pushing up daisies!

And Janet’s father, Archie, well he always thought I was a bit of “a dope” for wanting to climb amongst the world’s highest mountains, and for running around the outback and crossing deserts in a four-wheel drive, Janet and TomO in tow…

So a return to climbing and mountaineering is long overdue and will be a welcome change to the events of the past three months.

And I know many of you are great supporters in my quest to summit an 8,000-metre peak, heaven forbid, Mt Everest, and are cheering me back into the mountains…

And why Dope on a Rope I hear you ask?

Strewth, I must tell you that is how it feels sometimes!

Baz - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – Southern Alps, New Zealand

Reacquainted with an old mate (The shed!)

Baz - What a view
Baz – What a view

After seven weeks of rest, recuperation, rehabilitation, and a bit of hibernation I found it very liberating to be back up in the shed this week doing what I love, something that is part of my everyday existence, my every day ritual – exercise.

 A little over a week ago I gave the rehabilitation boot, the boot, literally, after getting the all okay from the doctor, and strewth, how good was that!

Recovery

 Geez, you never want to take mobility for granted, it’s a bugger when you lose it!

For those that are new, having a seniors moment, or maybe just missed it, I had an Achilles operation on my left foot, and a spur clearance on my right ankle about seven weeks ago…

Yes, to legs out of action at the same time, lucky for me though I had Janet and TomO taking good care of me!

After climbing in New Zealand during January it became very obvious to me that if I am to continue pursuing my dream of scaling some of the world’s highest mountains, heaven forbid, maybe even Mount Everest, than something had to be done to fix these problems that had been progressively getting worse.

Baz - Climbing in New Zealand
Baz – Climbing in New Zealand

The rehabilitation phase is well under way I am being extremely well cared for by my wonderful physiotherapist, Paula, from the Joint Health Clinic in downtown Sydney.

 And can I just say this, crikey, how good is it to be back up in the shed.

The Shed
The Shed

A bit of The Angels, one of my favourite Aussie rock bands, belting out of those little Bose speakers to get me motivated, the sound of free weights moving and some time on my new spin bike.

Even the neighbours are happy to hear that music signifying that I am slowly, but surely, returning to normal.  Yeah, okay, maybe they could do with a little less of The Angels.

 And on climbing?

Well it is far too early to return to the mountains, in fact I wouldn’t be able to squeeze on my rock climbing shoes, that is a hard task even under normal circumstances, but the swelling would make it an impossible task presently.

Baz - just stretch yourself
Baz – just stretch yourself

 And what about those big mountains?

Well, if I were to be brutally honest with myself, I would most likely come to the conclusion that my trip to Nepal this year is slowly slipping away from me.  Whilst the recovery is right on track, it was always going to be a very marginal thing as to whether I recover in time or not.

 But in the true style of an eternal and ever optimistic Sagittarian I’m not discounting it yet.

But here is the deal, climbing mountains isn’t a bucket list thing for me that I can just tick off, but something I want to live, enjoy, relish in, and return from.  So being in peak condition is key to my safety and that of those around me.

 The mountains will always be there.

But there is plenty of adventure in my sights regardless, including this year’s Hawkesbury Classic Kayak Race, 111-gruelling kilometres down the Hawkesbury River, and if I don’t get to Nepal, I’m confident of lining up in next year’s Coast-to-Coast Race, a cycle, run, and kayak race that takes you 243-kilometres across New Zealand’s South Island…

Baz - Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz – Terrigal Beach, Australia

Strewth, far too much fun ahead, you just wouldn’t want to be dead for quid’s…

 And hey, good to see you again…!

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy

My Chiropractor (Cracks me up)

Recovery

I’m sure we’ve all had one of those nights where you toss and turn, unable to sleep, your mind solving the problems of the world.

And with plenty of time to spare reviewing that bucket list that has been gathering dust…

I had one last night…

I tossed and turned in the early hours this morning, hindered by a plaster cast on my left leg, some minor discomfort in my right foot, and an aching neck, possibly brought about by not sleeping in the usual position I might normally.

I’m not one to create bucket lists to be honest, but my mind’s eye did turn to the climbing I have planned over the next few years, I could see those tall peaks in Nepal and Tibet with me making my way to the summits.

A boy who dreamed of big mountains
A boy who dreamed of big mountains

I think it even brought a smile to my face…

And of course my attention focused back to the here and now, the recovery I need to make from the recent surgery, the exercise program I need to undertake, which will include trail running and hill running; high intensity training on the rowing machine and out on the water on one of my racing kayaks, and I’m even contemplating Muay Thai boxing for specific conditioning.

Baz - Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz – Terrigal Beach, Australia

Not to forget the technical mountaineering skills, getting back out into the Blue Mountains to hone those skills with the team from the Australian School of Mountaineering, especially self-rescue skills.

Baz - Climbing "Sweet Dream" Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing “Sweet Dream” Blue Mountains, Australia

After all it is great until it goes all wrong, so best I have the skills to deal with that!

Even practicing something seemingly easy, but in reality is quite difficult, handling ropes and tying knots with large snow gloves on.

And for someone with a handful of thumbs, and even has trouble tying shoe-laces this is something I need to work on…

Baz -  Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia (Um,not the time for too many thumbs?)

I’m sure I must have breezed in and of sleep, but as the first rays of light were piercing the eastern skyline that “crink” in my neck ruled out any more sleep for me. Mind you, normally I would be heading for The Shed at this time of the day to exercise…

The Shed
The Shed (The Font of all knowledge)

I lay there, this time no thought of a bucket list, or climbing, or exercising, just my mind’s eye counting down the minutes to my chiropractic appointment with Greg, the owner of Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic in downtown Sydney.

I have had my body adjusted by the team at the clinic at least once every fortnight for years, and needless to say I am a great fan of this centuries old treatment…

And we usually get a couple of laughs in between the contorted positions I’m placed in.

All I can say is, I hope he cracks me up today!

Strewth – The Surgeon is sharpening his knife

Baz - One step at a time
Baz – One step at a time

Knife or Scalpel, the choice is yours, but the mere utterance of the word scalpel has me reaching for my head, the thought of being scalped sends a shiver up my spine!

A little while back I wrote about an Achilles tendon issue I was having in my left foot.

This has been a longer term problem, my Achilles Heel literally, that has plagued my training, at times, and climbing on other occasions.  It has certainly become worse recently.

A course of treatment using PRP injections has been moderately successful, but not fixed the problem.

As it stands presently it needs to be resolved ahead of my climbing expedition to Nepal in November for two reasons, firstly I cannot achieve the level of training I need to undertake, and secondly, and most importantly, it will compromise my climbing ability, with a potential flow on effect to others.

Climb-On
Climb on

So the surgeon has booked me in for next Thursday to treat the affected area, by scrapping the bone, and “cleaning up” the tendon area.  This involves a partial detachment of the Achilles tendon.  The procedure on the right ankle is very straight forward; they simply chisel off the spurs which may have been caused by a sky diving mishap from a few years back!

You can get the download on that little misadventure in “Butt your Bum’s Broken“.

Baz skydiving at Picton, Australia
Baz skydiving at Picton, Australia

And you can see from my clinical description of the problem that I’m no medico, but I’m working on the principle that the bigger the medical words, the bigger the doctor’s bill.

In all fairness though, he could have at least waited until I had left the clinic before upgrading his vacation flight to the South of France from cattle class to first class…

But I’m digressing!

Having two legs out of action at the same time will literally see me flat out on my back for at least for a couple of weeks, before I become more mobile once again.

Whilst not ideal to have both done at the same time from a recovery perspective, it will at least give me the best chance of making the expedition to Nepal in November.

At this time I have put the expedition to the back of my mind as I need to have this resolved before giving it any more thought. Although my surgeon is confident I can recover quickly and get back to training.  We are hoping for a full 4 months of intense training.

Baz - heading up "The Hill"
Baz – heading up “The Hill” on a training run

Now I know that sounds disappointing and it may not come to pass, but if it does I am simply viewing it as another step in the climb towards the world’s highest peaks. So rest assured I won’t be beating myself up about it…that would just be a waste of time and energy!

There is only one way – forward; and only one speed setting – go!

Baz - Climbing Sweet Dreams
Baz – Climbing Sweet Dreams

I told TomO I am buying one of those little bells you see in the Manor Houses, so I can give it a ring when I need something!

Like on Downton Abbey.

Crikey, not that I watch Downton Abbey (fair dinkum, I’ve opened a can of worms for myself, haven’t I)

I think I read about it on the back of a cereal box…(you do believe me, don’t you – no?)

Okay I watch Downton Abbey, but only every episode!

But back to TomO, his eyes rolled, and Janet chirped in with “in your dreams Baz, in your dreams”…

Janet and TomO on Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Janet and TomO on Fox Glacier, New Zealand

I’m sure they’ll take good care of me though and I’ll keep you all posted!

In the meantime, if all else fails, just remain out of control and see what develops!

This approach seems to work well for us, well mostly, broken butt’s aside!

High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

I have been researching the impact that high altitude climbing will have on my body, what I can expect, what I can do to assist my body’s ability to cope.

And importantly, to be able to recognise the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness in its more serious forms.

Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS as it is often referred to, is the effect the declining number of molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere has on our body as we ascend in altitude. It can range from a mild illness, to the more severe life-threatening forms of the illness, such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

The latter two conditions require immediate attention and descent from altitude otherwise death is the most likely outcome.

I’m not intending to go into a great discussion on either, nor am I qualified to do so, but as part of my “journey to the mountains” and extreme  altitude climbing I want to gain a better understanding of both conditions.

High altitude is defined as 5,000 to 11,500 feet, very high altitude 11,500 to 18,000, and extreme altitude as 18,000 feet and above.  At extreme altitudes physiologic function will outstrip  acclimatisation eventually.

My reading has taken me across a wide variety of topics, but the one that caught my attention was the connection between muscle and the requirement to fuel our muscles with oxygen when under exertion.

Over the years I have trained as a power-lifter for strength purposes and I have achieved results I am happy with.  As a consequence I have grown muscularly and currently weigh-in around the 95 kilogram mark.  This has given me a good power-for-weight ratio and has enhanced my speed on the kayak over the short to mid sprint distances.

Power-lifting has helped me develop strong legs, especially my quads through squatting, and dead-lifting.

Will this muscle help, or hinder me on the mountain as I trudge up the side of an 8,000 metre peak??

When exercising, the body, or more specifically the contracting muscles, have an increased need for oxygen and this is usually achieved by a higher blood flow to these muscles.

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

Due to the less dense air at altitude the number of oxygen molecules for any given mass of air will drop. Consequently, mental and physical performance will decline. The larger the muscles, the larger the requirement for oxygen to prevent muscular fatigue…

So what can I do?

There is not a lot that you can do to prepare for the effect of AMS, some people will adapt and perform better at altitude than others and this is hard to predict from one individual to another.

What I can do is decrease my muscle mass. Whilst that will mean a decrease in overall strength I can try and maintain the power for weight ratio balance.

The upshot of all this is that ahead of my expedition Nepal where I will be climbing three 6,000 metre peaks, including Lobuche East, I will deliberately take around 12-15 kilograms out of my frame…

The climbs in Nepal will be done without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Essentially, I will not change my training routine at all, I will maintain my same level of weight training, kayaking, rowing and other activities. I have found the best way to control weight change, either gaining, or losing, is via the kitchen and diet.

In fact I won’t even modify my diet to any great extent, simply quantity control.

Baz - Meteor Peak
Baz – Meteor Peak

Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains (And a dope on a rope)

Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

Boar’s Head is a beautiful part of the Blue Mountains situated very close to the villages of Katoomba and Leura.

And only a two-hour drive to the west of Sydney

You can abseil about 150 metres towards the valley floor and then climb back out, or abseil another 100 metres and walk out…

The wall to the right of the Boar’s Head, highlighted by the different colouring, is the climb out and there are a couple of different routes you can take. 

And crikey, how special is that view of “Narrow Neck” the plateau visible in the background…

Baz - Climbing out Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Climbing out Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

This is Incredible (Super-Hero’s, right?)

The Incredibles - You be the Judge!
The Incredibles – You be the Judge!

Now don’t you good folk go worrying that this Mr Incredible thingy that a wonderful person, Christina, wrote about me is going to my head.  You know, Bob Parr, family man, super-hero  from the ‘burbs.

Crikey, this is incredible, you’ve forgotten haven’t you.  My moment in the spot light and its slipped from your memory already…and it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

Your teachers were incredibly perceptive when they said , very bright, but needs to pay more attention to detail…

You can bring yourself back up to speed on it here.

Anyway, where was I, yes, don’t worry, there’s no chance of it going to my head, I’m far too incredibly modest to allow anything like that to happen.

And whilst I’ve got your attention for a moment or two, you’d have to admit that I am incredibly handsome. I just thought I’d put that out there, glad I got that out in the open for you, not that I’ve ever thought that myself mind you, never, no way, well not this week at least, not until this story appeared anyway.

In fact, so incredibly handsome that I can spend at least 10 minutes in front of the mirror admiring grooming myself each day.

Don’t just take my word for it, ask an incredibly impartial person, like Fay, my mother.

And someone did recently suggest that I looked like Harrison Ford.

Incredible…

True, you’re right, it was my brother-in-law mumbling something about Indiana Jones and we’re both doomed when the girls find all these empty beer bottles in the morning…

Of course, I am incredibly strong, what do you think I’m doing up in The Shed at silly o’clock each day with my cape and face mask…

The Shed - Or Super Hero hideout?
The Shed – Or Super Hero hideout?

Isn’t that what super-hero’s do?

And my boss, god bless his soul, did say that he’s glad I’m an incredibly talented mountaineer he’d believe anything I told him, to which he added that it is a blessing in disguise because I’m incredibly hopeless at trading currencies, but as he still needs someone around to send for coffee each day I should consider myself incredibly lucky!

That’s what I like about him, he’s incredibly generous when it comes to accolades about me…

And while I’m mucking around with this newfound fame word it would be entirely wrong not to mention that I have an incredible family, Janet and TomO.

Strewth, didn’t I luck out there, hey?

Yes, I heard you, incredible you said, didn’t you!

TomO, truly an incredible miracle for both of us, in fact so much so it often brings a tear to our eye…

TomO - An Incredible in full flight
TomO – An Incredible in full flight

And, let me tell you, he’s an incredible trampolinist, an urban tramp!

Oh yes, he’s an incredible son, incredibly likeable, okay, yes, he is incredibly cute and the Cheltenham girls are already checking him out on the train on the way to school each day, but who is this story about anyway…so let’s move on!

And speaking of Janet, she is incredibly beautiful with an incredible tolerance, spirit and adventurous personality.

Janet - An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia
Janet – An Incredible in full flight over Picton, Australia

Mind you, as I write this she has this incredible look on her face that is saying Mr Bob Parr you’re going to come to an incredible and sticky ending if you don’t take the rubbish out before the garbage man comes this week…it’s a short story, incredibly, I forgot last week.

Strewth, that’s right she’s an Incredible as well, best I don’t push my luck, so I’ll get on with that little job right now.

But let me say this, if I ever get to the top of some of those incredibly high mountains I want to climb it will be an Incredible super-human feat, well for me, in any case!

Baz - Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – Southern Alps, New Zealand

So to all, thanks for your continuing interest and ongoing support in the adventures that we get up to…and be sure to hang around for a while, I’ll be needing all the support I can muster to get me up those mountains…

And remember, there are no ordinary moments; no ordinary people; no ordinary lives!

Umm, Bob Parr, super-hero, hey…

Incredible!

What, someone has described me as Bob Parr (from The Incredibles)

Recently, I was approached by Christina from a Scribeslife asking if she could write a story about me, The Landy!

Of course I was rather flattered and Christina has put this story together and it appears in her blog.

But strewth, being described as Bob Parr from the Incredibles?

Just wait till “Bluey and the boys” down at the local footy club get a hold of this.

I mean, they’ve only just forgotten about the time I tripped on my shoelaces going down the aisle with Janet (it’s a long story, but I can’t tie my shoelaces properly!) and that was about a quarter-of-a-century ago.

Anyway, I guess it will be my shout again.

And while we are grabbing a drink, here’s a toast to Christina, be sure to check her blog out!

Bob Parr, hey? Umm, might get used to that…

And remember, if all else fails, there’ll always be “Bluey and the boys” to bring you back to earth!

The Shed – Font of all knowledge (And some tall stories)

The Shed
The Shed

Phew…“The Shed” hasn’t changed whilst I was away climbing in New Zealand.

It is still that grand old place where tall stories can be told, a few laughs had, a place where you can grab a coldie out of the fridge to share with mates, and importantly, it is my morning training hangout.

These past few days I’ve headed up the driveway in the pre-dawn darkness, a time of the day I actually enjoy immensely, to exercise on my C2 Concept Rower, and to lift a few weights.

Rowing in the Shed
Baz on the C2 Rower

Over the coming months my exercise regime in The Shed will revolve around high intensity cardio and building muscular endurance in preparation for my expedition to Nepal at the end of the year. Of course, there will be plenty of hill climbing with a 20 kilogram backpack, and I could never go without getting in a paddle on the lake at least once a week.

Baz - heading up "The Hill"
Baz – heading up “The Hill”

I’m always happy to be out hiking in the Australian Bush…and kayaking on our magnificent ocean beaches and inland waterways!

Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia

I will also be focussing  on improving muscular flexibility through yoga practice. Bikram is my preferred yoga and I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with it over the coming weeks.

Another focus of mine will be agility, something we seem to have in younger days and lose over time. Whilst I’m not too bad, my trip to New Zealand highlighted that I would benefit from undertaking some specific training, like balance beam walking with a back-pack…

And of course there’ll be plenty of rock-climbing up in the Blue Mountains to hone my rope handling skills and efficiency.

Baz - Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

Something that I will be revelling in!

And my partner in crime, brother-in-law, Ray Tong, and I are scheduled to line up for another start in Tough Mudder in early April, and he is well advanced in his preparation, so I have some catching up to do!

Ray and Baz line up for Tough Mudder
Ray and Baz line up for Tough Mudder

We are looking to improve our time from last September’s Tough Mudder event.

Mind you, I’m currently suffering from a long term achillies tendon injury which has flared once again.

My sports doctor is treating it with Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP as it is usually referred to.  It involves drawing my own blood and extracting the PRP which is then injected back into my achillies tendon to assist recovery. The process can be done in the surgery and takes around 15-30 minutes.  To date, I have had one injection and another is scheduled for next week.

I’m also undergoing a very specific stretching regime to assist in the recovery.

Fingers crossed, as failing this it will require some surgery to correct.

Baz - Crossing Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track
Baz – Crossing Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track

But I’m confident all will be well within the next few weeks and I can’t wait to be back out in the mountains hiking and climbing.

All up, life is pretty good, wouldn’t be dead for quids…

And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what happens, or just take a leap of faith!

Baz and TomO - Just remain out of control...!
Baz and TomO – Just remain out of control…!