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You’re just about to leave for a trip to Nepal, can you tell us a bit more about what you’ll be getting up to?
Sure. So, for a bit of background, I have a business called Big Mountain Training which is an online program written by trekkers and mountaineers. I'm taking about 10 of the Brisbane-based clients on what is predominantly their first climb in the Himalayas. It should be a real challenge for all of us.
We hear you're headed to Naya Kanga?
Well, because of the recent earthquake damage near Naya Kanga, we've actually changed to a mountain called Larkye Peak in the Manaslu region. It's about 6250m to the summit and it's a fairly rudimentary peak in terms of technical climbing. The challenge is having the endurance and the will to push on, it's quintessential big mountain climbing experience. We'll be climbing a steady ridge with a few tricky steps to a prominent and (hopefully!) clear summit. A weather window of 2-3 days and we should scend it.
What does training look like one month out?
Full on. 3-5 times week we're working on leg and core strength, durability and injury prevention in the gym. Frequent heavy pack carries for endurance, and a lot of big days in the mountains to build tenacity and experience. We recently did some canyoning in very cold water as a simulation for handling ropes and biners in the cold. It's as realistic as we can make it in Australia.
Do you ever take a local guide with you?
Yeah, I always do, you're mad if you don't. I was on Ama Dablam during the April earthquake, I don't know what I would have done without the logistical and spiritual support of my team over there. Plus, it's a big part of the fun! The Nepalese people are always positive, very jovial, ultra accommodating and insightful. We have a lot to learn from them about happiness.
What’s the longest you’ve been away from home for?
1 year. I travelled non stop for the entirety for 2011. It was kind of just dirt baggin', trekking, climbing a lot. I spent a great deal of time in Asia, India, Nepal and Europe, predominantly soul searching. Then I came home and started a business and now I rarely get to travel other than climbing trips! But, I do love it.
When you’re away from home for a long time, what are the creature comforts you miss the most?
Not much. I am a bit of a minimalist and I'm so comfortable on the move. But, probably great coffee if I'm honest! That was the first thing I had after the Ama Dablam trip. But there are so many lightweight, user friendly contraptions on the market now that allow you to get a pretty good brew almost anywhere. As well as coffee... probably chocolate brownies.
What is it about Nepal that keeps you going back?
Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Himalayas are the central power in the universe, and whilst I'm not really a religious person, I am deeply spiritual and I feel very drawn to the area. It feels as if it's vibrating at an extremely high frequency. Call me crazy, you'll have to go there to experience it. The higher you climb, the better it is ;)