Four weeks to go...
Fiona (pink fabric on her helmet) tucked into the bunch at Sandown racecourse on Tuesday. Picture courtesy of Caulfield Carnegie Cycling Club.
Trying out the new Shee-Pee at the Big Day Out.
This past week has been really busy with organising gear, logistics in Nepal and training, but incredibly our list of things to do is still growing! We’ve also had a busy social week with a wedding for some good friends from Switzerland and an engagement party for other close friends.
First thing tomorrow morning we head off on our last hiking trip. We are again going to hike another section of the Australian Alps Walking Track, this time from Thredbo to Mount Hotham. This will be 250kms of reasonably hilly terrain covered in 8 days and should be good training. After this, we’ll continue to concentrate on high-intensity cardio workouts (cycling) and limited but focused strength work at the gym. We are going to keep training right up until we leave, because there will be a number of weeks while we are trekking slowly into Everest base camp (in order to acclimatise) before we start the serious climbing, so this will give us plenty to time taper.
This week we’ve been really busy finalising our gear – especially making sure we’ve put in our last orders for any equipment that we need to get shipped in from overseas (either because it’s not available in Australia, or for cost reasons). This process has really made us realise just how small the world is getting – it’s been so easy using the internet and cheap long-distance phone calls to discuss the pros and cons of various different products. And so far, the customer service has been fantastic – I think sometimes we Australians have a bit to learn on this front from our friends in Europe and the US.
Our recent orders include new crampons for Paul (his old ones don’t fit his new Millet Everest 3 boots), insulated drinking flasks, thermoses, high-end socks, extra thermals, and extra inner-gloves. As of today, we’re also the proud owner of a new still digital camera (to replace the one that came to a tragic end on Khan Tengri when the velcro fastening it to Paul’s hip belt somehow came undone and saw the camera slide and bounce out of sight down the mountain to an icy death). We’ll be testing out our new toy on the hike.
One of the more unusual items I’ve recently ordered is a device which enables females to urinate into a bottle! At high camps, the cold and sometimes the campsite terrain will make it difficult and unpleasant to leave a tent in the middle of the night, so this “urinary director” should help solve the problem of a late night call-of-nature. Believe it or not, there are several different types available and they are not marketed for mountaineering, but for everyday use where “restrooms are unsanitary”. At the last “Big Day Out” in Melbourne, a disposable product called the “Shee-Pee” was given out so that the women’s toilets could operate a stand-up urinal and therefore reduce congestion! See details here. The product I have actually ordered is called “Freshette” – anyone interested in all the gory details can check it out here. The advice out there is to practice, practice, practice!
What else? We’ve just finalised our high risk medical insurance - we’re with a company called International Health Insurance and they offer a product which gives year round medical insurance without the usual restrictions on adventure activities. We have used them before and they have been quite good. Our flights are all set to go but we’re waiting to hear back whether Thai Airways will approve our request for 150kgs of baggage allowance….they may be still reeling in their seats!
After sending out details about this website we were thrilled to hear back from so many friends, especially those we hadn’t spoken to recently. It was a great way to catch up on everyone’s news – house moves, weddings, and lots and lots of new babies. Based on our sample of friends, I don’t think that people should be too worried about a declining birthrate!
Anyway, we had better get packing for our hiking trip. We need to be in Beechworth to catch a bus by midday so that means an early start.
Till next time,
PS - Due to our hike, we won’t be posting any updates for about a week and a half. Even if we wanted to do them, there is no mobile phone coverage in this area and our satellite phone only works in the northern hemisphere. Incredibly, communications on Everest will be better than some areas of Victoria!