Caffe Bene Himalayan Traverse Expedition 2016 in Nepal
Kinabalu One-day ascent , 23 August 2013. David makes the first 1-day mobility-impaired climb of Borneo's summit
Qinghai Virgin Peaks Expedition 2012: Tackling 6000m virgin peaks in the Tanggulashan area of Qinghai, China
1st Singapore Everest Expedition: online dispatches of the landmark 1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition, led by David Lim
Aconcagua 2000: David Lim and Tok Beng Cheong tackle the Polish Traverse in Feb 2000, as part of David's comeback climb from disability
Tien Shan Expedition 2000: David and members of the 2001 Everest Expedition lead and trained a team of novices in the first ever Singapore expedit...
Ojos Del Salado - Chile 2001: The Everest 2001 Expedition’s major warm-up climb prior to the Everest climb in 2001.
Singapore-Latin American Everest Expedition 2001: A climb on the North Rodge of Mt Everest, led by David Lim
Climbing the fabled Mount Ararat in 2001: ” I was fascinated by the tale of Noah’s Ark since I was a kid. In 1986 I took the opportunity to tra...
Ascent 8000: Expedition to Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, two 8000m peaks in 2002 by disabled Singaporean mountaineer David Lim
Alpine Rock in Borneo -2010:Why We Need Heroes: Climbing with Borneo alpine rock with Sir Chris Bonington, the legendary British mountaineer.
Extreme Desert Crossing 2007:David and Shani make the 5th ever recorded crossing on foot of the Salar de Uyuni
The “Spirit of Singapore Expedition 2009”, makes 3 virgin peak ascents including the tough peak later named Majulah Peak
Iran Expedition 2006: Multi-peak ascents in Alam-Kooh, and a climb of the long north ridge of Damavand in the Alborz peaks.
Ojos del Salado 2005: The highest volcano in the world --"Of my many adventures and climbs worldwide, there are a few which taught me the lesson t...
Nike Timing Mt. Fuji Climb 2004: David, Ting Sern and Masaharu make an attempt on Mt Fuji in the winter from the Yoshida trailhead.
Mountain of the Star Expedition 2003: An all-disabled mountaineers’ ascent of Pico de Orizaba, 5700m, Mexico’s highest peak and North America...
Maccoffee Tienshan Virgin Peaks Expedition: David leads his team to make the first virgin peak ascents by a Southeast Asian expedition. The team cl...
Kilimanjaro 2011: David Lim returns to Kilimanjaro to climb it from the Rongai Route.
Elbrus 2003: Climbing highest summit of Europe - in 2003. David teams up with Grant and Rudolf in Russia...
Kilimanjaro Challenge 2004: Four disabled mountaineers atempt a remote route on the northern icefields of Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m), the summit of ...

Twitter feeds

  • by

 

Turbomed FS3000 AFO    Feb 7, 2016 : THE NEW ‘LEG’: received possibly Singapore’s first Turbomed Orthotics FS 3000 ankle foot brace. Tested it out on several staircase climbing laps on Friday and a jungle stroll yesterday. Having tried seven different AFOs since 1998, I ‘d say these are the most robust ones I have tried.Thanks to their sponsorship, I’m well on my way to devising my optimal climbing system. Happy to help anyone else with lower leg disabilities figure out the best solution for them.
Part of the journey to any expedition is the blending of the new and the old – from workouts to equipment.These past few months have seen some radical shifts in the kind of sleep systems I am used to, not to mention a new training programme for the Himalayan Traverse this Spring in Nepal!

Opinion: Published in The Sunday Times, June 28, 2015

The tragic fatalities of trekkers and adventurers on Mt Kinabalu following the earthquake in East Malaysia this month has raised the question about handling risk, and the appropriateness of mountain-based adventure activities for children.

Every year, globally, thousands of children travel to high altitudes without any event. These includes trips to ski resorts, hiking in countries with developed emergency and evacuation; as well as to more remote destinations. In assessing “risk”, it’s important to separate what’s know as ‘subjective’ from ‘objective’ risks.

Subjective risks refer to risks that are known, and to a quite a degree, manageable. These include, but are not limited to rate of acclimatization; or upward progression of altitude. Often, the faster the ascent, the higher the risk of adults and children  being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS) and the more serious extension of AMS, like fluids accumulating in the lungs ( high altitude pulmonary edema) or brain ( high altitude cerebral edema); both life-threatening conditions.  Only one study has shown that children are more susceptible to altitude based ailments, and this is also only when they have had prior or pre-existing upper respiratory tract illnesses. There is no conclusive evidence to indicate they are either more or less susceptible than adults to altitude problems; as outlined by Ad Hoc Committee of the International Society for Mountain Medicine in 2001.

However, there is an issue with what I term “competency reserve’ that is of greater concern where children are involved. Unless advanced in self-awareness and sufficiently articulate in the presence of peers or a mixed group of peers and adults, young children may have an issue articulating how they feel, or drawing attention to a specific health condition. This is less of an issue as children mature. But pre-teens or more introverted teenagers, may express problems like loss of appetite or poorly defined aches in a away that may mask more serious symptoms. In general, the larger the gap between existing competencies of a child or adult , experience and knowledge of a situation  in the mountains,  the greater the onus on a mountain or trip guide (formally contracted or otherwise) to ensure that the ‘controllable’ does not spiral downwards into an ‘uncontrollable’ situation.

In cases where children are significantly guided and helped to an adventure activity; the loss of the guide or access to such adult-based decision-making can render the individual confused, frightened. In 1996, during the infamous tragedy on Mt Everest, one obedient client of a mountain guide nearly froze to death because he waited far too long for his guide to turn-up. The guide himself, had disappeared in the storm that killed eight climbers that day. So, while ’competency reserve’ or lack thereof can impact adults, children who are largely under orders in some adventure activities may be more severely impacted by their lack of autonomy in such situations to save themselves.

Objective risks are risks that are present but are less controllable. These include but are not limited to assessing avalanche risk on a loaded snow slope (a science and art in itself), a well as being exposed to rock or icefall from an inherently unstable source; is another example. In such a situation of judgment, a group of adults who share similar skills and experience may have a debate about the route they take; less so if an experienced guide calls the shots when dealing with a group of neophytes. On Pisang Peak, a relatively straightforward 6000-metre alpine climb in Nepal, one mistake by a guide led to 10 deaths. His mistake: roping up a large group of inexperienced clients together. One fell and dragged the guide and the rest to their deaths. If the ‘competency reserve ‘ of the group had been greater, some questions might have been raised about this stupid move prior to the accident. The challenge in managing risks for any group leader is increased where you have a higher amount of objective risks on the journey.

Some practical considerations, especially with children and risk activities in a mountain situation might include

-    having a subjective and objective risk assessment of the activity – from the route, guides (if any), and competency of the party participating in the activity. The earthquake in Kinabalu was a highly exceptional occurrence, and few, if any of the internationally recommended safety procedures, could have protected anyone from a shower of falling rocks. One would be better off looking at the safety procedures and protocols that cover the other 99% of possible risks in the actual activity
-    the greater the gap between the goal and the competency of the group, the closer one should pay attention to the guides’ skills and experience
-    a conservative gain in altitudes, especially over 2500m
-    understanding that altitude illnesses are hard to recognize in pre-verbal children who cannot report classic symptoms

Managing the risk aspect of mountain activities will be an ongoing challenge. Some adventure-learning organizations in Singapore have touted their activities as “safe adventure”. My opinion is that there is no such thing. You can only control risks only so far. However, to withdraw from taking any risks is to deprive young people from experiencing rewarding, and enriching lessons of the outdoors. AS TS Eliot put it:” Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go”.

David Lim was the leader of Singapore’s 1st Mt Everest Expedition and a leadership speaker and consultant

Over 4000metres in Bhutan,  with views of the stunning spire of Jitchu Drake on the horizon

Over 4000metres in Bhutan, with views of the stunning spire of Jitchu Drake on the horizon

.

By David Lim, for CFO Magazine, June 2013, and Life Without Limits leadership newsletter

Just recently, I was privileged to visit the mountains of Bhutan. As it would take far too long to walk; and unlike the mystical Guru Rinpoche, who rode a magical flying tigress; I had to fly by DrukAir, the nation’s national carrier.

This trip would be a far cry from my usual mountaineering projects or expeditions, which normally eschew most forms of ‘support’ whilst on a climb. Together with my wife, we had the support of a qualified trekking guide Tshering Penjor, a cook (Sonam), a horseman ( Tshering) and his assistant ( Kinlay). The 10-day trek would summit no mountain (as mountaineering has been banned in Bhutan since the 1992). But the trek, known as the Chomolhari trek, would take a horseshoe-shaped loop; covering 137km, and cross two high passes of nearly 5000-metres in height. Bhutan as long been seen as a bit of an exotic destination, the last Buddhist monarchy in the world.

An introduction of a national assembly by popular vote in 2005 brought a semblance of democracy to the small land-locked nation. But best known to a well-read traveler is that Bhutan has controlled who visits the country, as well as what values it wishes it’s citizens to uphold. Not only is there a whopping USD$250 tariff chargeable per day to ensure it’s policy of “high value, low volume” tourism, there is a huge emphasis on preserving the environment (a compulsory school subject); and a focus on Gross National Happiness as a measurable index to assess the state of the nation’s well-being, rather than Gross National Product.

It’s hard not to compare Bhutan with it’s similarly landlocked, and more famous neighbour Nepal. Both have stunning peaks, the goal of many mountaineers and hill-walkers, and both are challenged to keep a balance between development and preservation. In the space of 20 years from 1990, Nepal lost, through deforestation and poorly controlled forestry management, 25% of its rain forest. Bhutan actually gained 7% through careful forestry policies.

The trek we had planned was hampered by 8 days of bad weather with only 2 really good days. The 2 good days were really magnificent, with views near our 4000-metre campsite of Bhutan’s famous 6000-7000-metre peaks – Chomolhari, Tserimgang and the elegant spire of Jitchu Drake – surely one of the world’s most beautiful peaks; and climbed successfully by my friends Doug Scott and Vic Saunders 1988.

What I learned from Tshering was the practice of ‘detachment’. In Buddhism, there is a belief that much human suffering is caused by desire and attachment to material things. Detachment helps balance the spirit; reducing the ever-present elements of human greed and wants. And yet, if unbalanced, leads to torpor and a lack of motivation to do anything. So in that vein, an almost obsessive fixation on climbing to the summits of these peaks must seem strange, even somewhat repulsive to some people. A few days later, we were on our own; Tshering having had to return to Thimpu to tend to his father who had suffered a stroke. We gamely struggled on, with the other three, none of whom spoke much English. To make matters worse, we experienced driving snow on most days; and narrow trails made muddy and slippery from the rain and snow. One day, the weather and the conditions meant we had to struggle though nightfall to make it to camp. Dark thoughts, and complaints coursed through my thoroughly modern mind. And yet, throughout these challenges, our Bhutanese ‘crew’ managed to remain calm, and stoic. Once again, the mindset that even these hardships will pass; just as any transient happiness will also pass , seems so central to their way of thinking. Each day’s 10-mile hike through difficult terrain was met with equal emotional intensity as was the final stretch to Dodina, and ‘civilisation’.

Just a few days prior to our trek; and not too far away, on Mount Everest in Nepal, an unfortunate incident occurred. Three highly skilled professional climbers, including climbing aces Simone Moro and Ueli Steck were involved in an almost unheard of fight of epic proportions, high on Everest. The complete facts are yet to be known. However, what is known so far is that they were establishing a new route in the Everest-Lhotse area and climbing on the Lhotse Face, a 1000-m high steep, icy face on Mt Everest. The face is located between 6500 and 7500m. Most of the usual Everest climbers do not venture there until an elite team of climbing Sherpa mountaineers, have completed their work in fixing the safety ropes on that section.

Apparently, the three westerners were climbing unroped, and above the Sherpas when some ice was allegedly kicked down, accidentally, hurting one of the Sherpas. Some angry words were exchanged. The sherpas broke off their work, and returned to Advance base Camp at 6500m. When the foreign trio returned to their tents at the same location, they were beset by an angry group of Sherpas, numbering up to 100. Stones were thrown and death threats uttered. Some other climbers intervened. The trio sustained minor injuries and cuts, and retreated to basecamp. Later an ‘armistice’ of sorts was established by senior Nepal liaison officers and the Sherpas, with both parties apologizing to each other and commitments made to work more closely and peacefully henceforth.

I can’t help feeling that somewhere in the past 20 years, some of the magic in Nepal has been lost. Yet something wonderful has been found in the way Bhutan has risen to meet the challenge of modern day ego, greed, and most of all, “attachment” to things of this world. I think the Guru Rinpoche would have approved.

Visit http://www.everestmotivation.com to find out more leadership and team solutions by David Lim

A VIEW TO DIE FOR?

Reprinted with permission by The Sunday Times, Singapore, June 3, 2012
By David Lim

About 300 climbers on Mount Everest forming a long queue as they trek towards their ultimate goal of reaching the summit. Because there are only a few small windows of four to five days during the spring when climbers can reach the top in relatively good weather, the rush of mountaineers in these periods creates huge jams at bottleneck areas along the route, leading to people suffering from frostbite and other cold-related injuries while waiting. — PHOTO COURTESY OF RALF DUJMOVITS

Mount Everest is turning into a circus of danger as hundreds of climbers – including the ill-prepared – join the rush to the summit.

By David Lim
The writer Ernest Hemingway once said that there are only three true sports in the world – the rest being merely games – and listed them as motor racing, bullfighting and mountaineering.

But in the decades since the last of the giant Himalayan peaks fell to the boots of mountaineers, has the sport of mountaineering, at least where Mount Everest is concerned, changed irreversibly, and not necessarily for the better?

Each year, like part of a tick-list for driven people, Everest sees hundreds of climbers swarming its flanks, almost all of them attempting to scale it from either its standard routes from the south in Nepal or the north, from Tibet.

I applaud anyone who wishes to take on the personal challenge of the peak, as it is still not an easy accomplishment.

In its purest form, the sport of mountaineering is about freedom of expression. It’s about self-determination, route finding, working as a team, and challenging yourself in a pristine, harsh and remote arena.

And yet, climbing Everest has lost most of the elements that make mountaineering what it is. For Everest at least, the aim of the game is summitting, and sometimes at all costs.

Ask those climbers this season who were told to turn around but did not, and then died on their descent, largely due to exhaustion and mistakes made in a hypoxic state of lacking oxygen.

Veteran mountain guide Dave Hahn told me more than a decade ago on my second Everest expedition that ‘there is the sport of mountaineering, and then there is this thing called Everesting’. Mr Hahn should know; he’s climbed Everest an amazing 14 times.

In ‘Everesting’, it seems more and more people want to get to the top without investing in a long and often rewarding apprenticeship in mountaineering.

Even as recently as 1998, when I led the first Singapore Mount Everest Expedition , our aim was to climb the mountain with more than minimal experience, clocking up significant time on other mountains prior to tackling the peak.

That year, taking the standard route from Nepal, 45 people summitted. This spring season on Everest, nearly 400 people have done so. In 1998, none in Nepal died. In the season just ended, 10 have died.

It is clear from this, as well as some shocking pictures this year of more than 150 people jammed up in a queue leading to the final summit camp at the 8,000m mark, that the situation on Everest is fast becoming unsustainable.

In mountaineering, there are objective and subjective dangers, the former being risks which are difficult to control, such as encountering a teetering ice tower hanging over the climbing route and not knowing when exactly it might crash down.

But what is killing more people on Everest are the subjective dangers. These are the more controllable risks, such as climbers’ physical conditioning and training, their prior experience and their development of the mountaineer’s ‘inner voice’ that is uncannily correct in helping experienced climbers make the right call in difficult situations.

Here is what is making Everest a real circus of danger: For many of the less experienced climbers who have joined a commercial expedition, most of the key decisions are made by their trip leaders. A huge amount of logistics and decision- making is out of their hands completely.

As such, there is often a lack of mountain ‘awareness’ – knowing what is in place, understanding the limits of their bodies under stress, being able to be resilient when situations change. They also have a shallow experience and skill base on which to rely when things go wrong.

On a perfectly calm day in 1998, I was horrified to see two climbers stall above me. They waited until a third climber – a guide – joined them to demonstrate something as basic as how to thread a rope into a braking device to descend a fixed rope safely. This is akin to teaching a non-driver how the brakes of a car work after you’ve let him loose on the highway.

Worse, many outfits that operate on Everest are under-equipped and when a client gets into trouble, they do not have the resources to mount a coherent rescue.

As the window of summitting in relatively stable weather in the season is usually confined to just a few periods of four to five days at a time, when people decide to make a summit push, everyone else does so too, leading to huge jams at the bottleneck areas where there is a more difficult technical challenge to be negotiated.

I know of people who have had frostbite and other such injuries from cold because they were waiting for an hour at a choke point to get their turn on the summit. It’s a recipe for disaster if bad weather then sweeps in.

A third key factor is cognitive biases at work. Among the most common is ‘sunk cost’ – most wannabe Everest climbers have saved up the US$40,000 to $65,000 (S$52,000 to S$84,000) required to have their once-in-a-lifetime shot at the summit and are loath to turn back even when wisdom dictates that they do so. More experienced climbers are invested in their sport and lives, and often make the better decision.

Another factor which can affect anyone is ‘confirmation bias’. The well-reported 1996 tragedy where eight climbers died in a single incident happened because their expedition leaders looked at the weather reports and chose to interpret the facts to merely confirm what they wanted to do – to reach the summit on a specific date, even though that date was far too close to a likely change in weather for the worse.

For years, there have been calls by some of the most respected climbers in the community to restrict the numbers going up Everest. But in a dollar-poor economy, this is unlikely to happen, at least on the Nepal side.

In addition, who would have the unenviable task of deciding who qualifies to climb and who does not?

The very ethos of the ‘freedom of the hills’ held by most mountaineers would work against any of us wanting to be the competency police on Everest.

But until some systemic changes are made to how people approach their preparation for Everest, who organises the climbs, and who are allowed to climb it, the view from Everest, for at least a few unprepared or unlucky ones, will be a view to die for.

david@everestmotivation.com
The writer is a leadership coach and a veteran of over 60 alpine and expedition ascents.

___________________________________________________________________________
WARNINGS OF OVERCROWDING IN ‘DEATH ZONE’ FAIL TO DETER CLIMBERS

Since the first ascent on May 29, 1953, by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal, about 10,000 people have tried climbing the world’s tallest peak. Almost 4,000 have succeeded in reaching the 8,848m summit.

German statistician Eberhard Jurgalski, who has chronicled Everest activity since 1981, notes that the record number of ascents in one day was 170 on May 23, 2010.

The most treacherous part is above 8,000m, the ‘death zone’. It is almost impossible to survive the biting cold and lack of oxygen for more than 48 hours.

Warnings of potentially lethal overcrowding in the ‘death zone’ this year did not deter climbers. The BBC reported that more than 300 had official permits to go up from the Nepali side, not counting locals assisting the climbers.

Popular Nepali news portal ekantipur.com said more than 350 people reached the summit.

Among those who succeeded was Dr Kumaran Rasappan, 28, the only Singaporean in an expedition of 30 people. He joins other Singaporeans who have and Malaysia-born Mr Edwin Siew did it in 1998, while Ms Jane Lee led the first women’s team from the Republic in 2009.

Since 1953, more than 220 climbers have died at Everest, half of those in the past 20 years. The deadliest season was 1996, when 15 died, eight of them on a single day.

Nepal’s tourism ministry says six climbers died this year, but unofficial sources such as mountaineering websites estimate the number of deaths to be at least 10.

 

 

At the summit of Orizaba. The Society for the Physically Disabled's flag flying high!

At the summit of Orizaba. The Society for the Physically Disabled’s flag flying high!

Does Singapore Deserve its Mountaineers? ( Published in The Straits Times June 2, 2009)

unedited version here:

Let me join in a growing force of  congratulations to the women’s Singapore Everest Expedition that successfully placed its members on the summit recently. There’s not much in terms of natural, God-given vertical structures in Singapore. So perhaps, in a nation sometimes short on heroes, such an achievement is widely admired. But this moment is also an opportune time to reflect if our young nation truly deserves its mountaineers. I tend to think not at times.

Since the landmark 1st Singapore Everest Expedition in 1998, which I had to privilege to organize and lead, Singapore has witnessed an amazing shift in terms of economic sophistication, and greater tolerance for risk-taking, failure and diversity. But have things really changed that much?

For a sport in which we excel on an Asian level, is not size-dependent, and is not gender biased, why does mountaineering and the those on the forefront of pushing standards here receive such a disproportionately modest amount of support to get the job done? Conversely, sports in which we perform at a mediocre level, and where success is often dependent of physical size, often receive far more political and commercial support.

Worse, many of these latter sports have regular scandals and controversies, and personalities that do not necessarily serve as outstanding youth role models. As with the recent climb, I too recall how on two separate Everest expeditions, we were multitasking as the fundraisers, community-builders, public relations spokespersons and the participants ourselves. I wonder how the Singapore football teams of the past might have fared if leading striker Fandi Ahmad, had to raise the monies to train, mow the lawns at the stadiums, run the youth skills programmes, train and play the matches as well.

One would have thought since the 1990s where anyone thinking of excelling at this sport had to seek mostly independent sources of financing and advice, things might have changed. Sadly, all, or almost all of the approved funding from the Singapore Sports Council to mountaineering’s national sporting association is focused on indoor competitive sports climbing, held in a controlled environment.  Medals over gumption and self-sufficiency, say some.

Worse, mountaineers with projects or ideas at the cutting edge of Singapore and Asian standards are directed to take their appeals to other council schemes where success in one project, is rewarded by a progressively reduced funding on subsequent applications.

I wonder how other Singapore sporting groups would feel that each successful venture, at an elite level, is rewarded with less and less support. When less than 15% of funding of the $1.1 million dollars over two Everest expeditions I’ve led were from government funds, I wonder what reasoning goes behind offering such modest funding to an inspiring, and often character-building sport, often played at the Asian standard.

Little wonder why the mountaineers here have all but abandoned seeking any significant support or guidance from official organisations, and have moved to relying on themselves and a network of veteran climbers for advice, direction and ideas.

On a national level, our education system produces people that have failed to embrace a wider scope of risk-taking outside of making money. I have requests for adventure-based programmes where the programmes had to be absolutely ‘safe’. There is no such thing! With the benefit of hindsight wisdom, I look at the challenges to get the recent Everest climb off the blocks, and do not see the situation changing much.  Some things have not really changed in the past 15 years.

Well-run expeditions have shown great value to sponsors in terms of product testing, showcasing, as well as sustained news coverage. It’s time sponsors consider stepping back from already crowded sporting events, and consider carving up new space through the value propositions expeditions offer.

The media has also often taken few pains to educate itself on the sport of mountaineering. Until it educates its reporters that mountaineering excellence has never been defined by an ascent of Everest alone, the sport is truly doomed. Our busy and time-starved public will never be able to fathom anything in mountaineering other then “Everest-ing”.

I encourage reporters to differentiate between climbs involving significant external support on the mountain, from those where the entire burden of equipping and executing a climb are on the climbers. I urge them to understand how, this truly great sport can encompass all ages, levels of excellence, and the multiple skills required depending on types of routes attempted,

There is a saying that to get more in life, you have to be more than what you are. In that light, perhaps the Singaporeans most deserving of our mountaineers are those who continue to grow and live greater lives by the examples, efforts and inspiring stories brought home by those who have gone to the high peaks, risked something, and returned.

 

David Lim was leader of the 1st Singapore Everest Expedition in 1998, and now works as a leadership consultant. office@everestmotivation.com

 

 

 

 

It’s been over six long months training this middle-aged body of mine using a new regime of high intensity circuits, plenty of strength building and some help from my personal trainer Magesh who identified several weaknesses and imbalances I had. Basically over the decade since I became partially-disabled from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), I’ve learned to compensate and ‘cheat’ – allowing my stronger muscles to take up the slack  – resulting in my weaker muscles really deteriorating when i should be working them harder – much harder.  I work on a typical 3 days ‘on’ one day off’ routine with a minimum of 5 workouts a week.  From Feb to April, the P90X system kicked ass in building a tolerance to high-intensity work, and helped me, for the first time ( in the  14 years since GBS) actually be able to crank several chin-ups at a go. Since then a week might comprise:

- 45 minute runs with a hill section
- maximum intensity staircase sprints up a 22-story block x 4
- weight circuits including core work
- mass building work, including heavy squatting and lifts
- Bukit Timah hill climbing sessions with reps on staircases or long hikes with a  15kg pack ( a lot less of this with the new fitness regime)

The tough part is actually getting enough of the right nutrients to feed the body the right way, and getting enough protein sometimes requires drinking it – in the form of protein shakes like GNC’s 100% Whey Protein drink mix; and combing some vitamin supplements like GNC’s MegaMens multivits.

Work is now moving towards gear, clothing selections, expeditions meds, communications, and this week – food for the upper camp of the expedition. Our high camp tent: a toss-up between my 2 kg Macpac Summit tent (it’s so small when you smile your teeth touch the walls) and the 3.7kg Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT (see pic on left, cat not included ). The most time consuming part of these trips is the tweaking, repairing of new and old gear for a climb. Packing, by comparison, is the fastest part of the preparations.

My crampons will be lightweight aluminium, and my new plastic Koflach insulated boots come in at a manageable 1100gms. A new brain bucket comes in at 280grams instead of my 10-year old helmet that’s well over 400grams.