What I will do differently this time
They say practise makes perfect. I have given a great deal of thought to the things I will be changing from Everest 2011 for my upcoming attempt in 2012.
A number of people have also asked me what I will be doing differently so I have decided to write a post on the subject.
If you have any other (helpful) idea’s do kindly comment at the bottom of the post 🙂
I was very strict with my diet for Everest 2011. So much that I was down to 68kg one month before the expedition and was worried I was getting too lean. I therefore attempted to put on a little more weight in the month leading up to the expedition departure. However with the training I was doing I did not manage this, even while eating like a horse. This year I am eating healthily but would like to go in around 70kg to the expedition, Therefore I am not so strict on the occasional beer once a week or a piece of chocolate now and again. I utulise heavily the nutritional techniques that Dana Heather from Balanced Living taught me last year. Such as drinking baby coconuts to re-hydrate on a daily basis, eating healthy fats (avocado/flaxseed oil) and taking certain supplements and nutritional powders to boost my daily nutrition and strengthen my immune system.
Once again Darren Blakeley from UFIT assists to design my training schedule. I was very strong in 2011, having built up a lot of lean muscle mass in the gym. This was achieved through lifting very heavy weights for low reps(around 5 reps per set, sets of 4 each exercise). This year I am still working in the gym but have lowered the sessions of strength training and increased the cardiovascular sessions. Hill running in Bukit Batok and Bukit Timah, and specific high intensity sessions in the UFIT gym doing tyre flips etc. Going to the gym and keeping my entire body strong is still important as it keeps my body balanced and aids to avoid injury. However I am really hammering the high intensity sessions. These leave me gasping for breath, like I want to vomit. I then have a short recovery and start again. Exactly like what it is like to move 5 steps at 8000m. I will cover the physical training side in more detail in a future post.
I rock climbed every Sunday for the months leading up to Everest in 2011. I am not doing that this year. My climbing skills were sound enough for Everest, and I will put the time to better use by doing more fitness preparation. I will be returning to New Zealand again in February to attempt the remainder of the West Ridge on Malte Brun. I tried this last year over 8 days and it turned into quite an adventure. This is good ‘mountain preparation’ for Everest. It will keep my technical skills up to speed (as it is a technical route)and also serve as a gauge of my physical fitness.
Goggles – my goggles exploded as I tried to stretch them over my down hood as I prepared to leave the high camp at 11PM on summit night. It was very windy and without goggles I had real problems trying to see as I kept having to close my eyes and shelter against the rock when the gusts came in. It felt like freezing sand being thrown into my eyes. So I will be investing in a better pair of goggles.
Sunglasses – the lens in my sunglasses were to weak in 2011. It gets so bright during the day on Everest with the sun reflecting off the snow and ice that it really burns your eyes. I will be using a pair of Category 4 lens in my sunglasses which are extremely dark and block almost all the harmful UV.
Crampons – my old Grivel G12 crampons which had served me for so many years unfortunately did not work well at higher altitude and extreme cold. The strapping system was too cumbersome and my long straps froze solid and caused me to get very cold hands on summit night trying to fasten them. I will be upgrading to a crampon with anti-balling plates and a much more convenient strapping system.
Ascender/Mittens – My mittens did not work well with my ascender. I lacked the dexterity to unclip and clip the ascender when wearing the mittens. Hence I needed to remove my hand from the mitt which once again made my fingers colder. I am still investigating using either a wider handled ascender so my mitts can fit inside, or refining my mitten system so they fit with my current ascender.
Ice Axe – My 55cm Chalotte Moser Ice Axe which is great in the southern alps of NZ was too heavy and too short for the North Ridge of Everest. There is little need to ice climb on the route so a very light weight aluminium ice axe which you can also use as an aid when walking up hill is more suitable.
Harness – my Petzl rock climbing harness with many gear loops was too heavy. I will replace this with something lighter like the Black Diamond Coiloir harness. I will also look at wearing the harness inside my downsuit instead of outside it. I found wearing it on the outside that it kept slipping down.
Backpack – I will be looking at a smaller, simple backpack which is lighter for the summit push. Down lower on the mountain my larger 80 litre expedition pack worked well.
Headtorch/goggle/oxygen mask combination – I have a small face. I found when I wore the oxygen mask and the goggles there was very little real estate left on my forehead for my head torch – in effect it did not fit. I need to sort this out!
Camera – My CANON D10 Powershot died on Everest in 2011 about 3 weeks into the trip. I will be taking two camera’s this year, one as a back-up.
I struggled early on with acclimatizing on Everest in 2011. I developed H.A.P.E at Advanced Base Camp at 6300m, and had a struggle for 11 hours to get down to the safety of Advanced Base Camp. Then ultimately to a dirty little Tibetan Village called Tashyzom at 4200m for 3 days which I still have nightmares about. I do not want to repeat this process so will be returning to Nepal, 2 weeks before the expedition starts to make an acclimatization trek for 10 – 12 days. I expect to trek to around 5000m. This will give my body some more time to start the physiological changes required to survive at high altitudes.
I am making a conscious effort to only talk and hang out with people who I know will be supportive and positive.
I will also be making an effort to do this during the expedition.
Focus on summit day.
I will focus much more on summit night and practising for summit night departure this year. It’s very important to get a good start from the high camp. From this I mean leaving with warm hands and feet and all your gear systems sorted and working well. Getting prepared at the high camp to leave the tent on summit night, doing the many tasks which are required, whilst being attached to your oxygen bottle in minus 30 degree’s and your brain working at the pace of a small child due to the lack of oxygen is really quite tough. So I will be going through a number of dry runs lower down the mountain.
For Everest 2012, I have targeted fewer sponsors who can make larger contributions.
I became very busy with sponsors in the weeks leading up to the expedition last year. While I appreciated the support immensely – I was quite exhausted by the time I reached Kathmandu. This allows me more time to focus on my climb preparation and also give more focussed attention to my sponsors.
Happy weekend to all of you!