Hi everyone – Fiona here!
We’re well and truly into the final countdown now! With only 3 days to go, we’re very excited, but at the same time feeling a little nervous about the enormous challenge that lies ahead. I’ve just submitted my take-home exam for my MBA studies, so it’s great to now turn my full attention towards the final details of the trip preparation.
Thanks for all your support!
We are really thrilled to be getting so much support and encouragement through your messages. I know when we are on the mountain it will be even more fantastic to receive these, especially when we’re cold, hungry, tired and homesick!
One of the best things about the last couple of weeks is being in the “fattening up” phase! Most people find that they lose a lot of weight at altitude, especially when climbing, but even if they’re just hanging out at basecamp. If too much weight is lost, the body becomes weaker, making it less able to protect from illnesses and less able to cope with the immense physical demands of climbing. So we want to make sure that we have a little spare fat to lose and that our bodies are well nourished before we start. (In fact, there are rumors of a high-altitude weight loss clinic opening where you can eat all the chips and chocolates you want and still lose weight!) For the last couple of weeks we’ve been enjoying lots of treats including hot-cross buns, ice-cream, Thai curries, and even pizza.
Mental preparation – if a little morbid
As part of our preparation, we’ve both just finished re-reading “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer. This book is a first hand account of the disaster that occurred in 1996 when 8 people died trying to reach the summit of Everest on the South side. Some might say it’s a bit grim to be reading this just before we depart, but we wanted to be very clear about the various factors that contributed to this tragedy so that we can do our best to avoid making any of the same mistakes. But while the read has offset some of our raw enthusiasm, it has also confirmed many of our planning decisions and strengthened our resolve to climb our own climb, without being part of a large guided group.
We’re feeling confident that we’re as ready as we’ll ever be for this challenge – both in terms of our fitness levels and our gear. We’re still in full training mode – out cycling for several hours on most days and with so many cyclists in Melbourne preparing for the Commonwealth Games, the pace of our races has picked up considerably!
Oxygen mask question
A question was posted by MC about moist exhaled air freezing in the Topout oxygen masks. Apparently this has been a problem with these masks, as it is with all masks, and I do know that this year they have modified the exhaust air valve to try to reduce this, but I am not 100% sure of the details. When we see the masks again in base camp I will try to get a close up photo and post it to the site for you and also find out some more information. (Remind us if we forget!)
The devil in the details…
In terms of our gear, our latest packing list has over 300 different items on it! We’re even taking an Australian flag with us (the Commonwealth Games have awakened our patriotic spirit). We’re just down to all the little things now – like how much sunscreen to take, do we have enough liner gloves, how many batteries do we need, what flavour lollies and muesli bars should we buy, which books to take to read at basecamp, charging all batteries and deciding on the songs to load onto our MP3 players.