I'm 33 years old and I live in Perth, Western Australia. A hiking trip to New Zealand with my family when I was 18 planted the seed for an enduring love affair with the mountains. This affair has taken me back to New Zealand, to the Rockies in Canada, to Denali in Alaska, to Mont Blanc in France, to the Karakorum Range in Pakistan, and the Himalaya Range in Nepal and Tibet. It's also taken me on numerous occasions to the Stirling Ranges in Western Australia, where mountain addicts can get their fix on lofty Bluff Knoll (1,095 m).
I learnt to climb with my brother, Matthew in the mountains of New Zealand. They were special days and led to us travelling to Canada where we did some beautiful (and scary) climbs in the Canadian Rockies and the Bugaboos. As always, Matthew would lead from the front and I would tentatively follow, with my chronic fear of heights gradually subsiding the more climbs we completed. As the years have gone by, I've been able to attempt higher and higher mountains. After our trip to Canada, I took off for France where I climbed in the Alps and followed the hordes up the Gouter Route on Mont Blanc. At 4,810 m it was my highest ever summit.
I graduated from the Univeristy of Western Australia in 1999 with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science and Coastal Management. For the past 8 years I've worked as an environmental consultant with RPS, a leading international consulting firm specialising in the environment, energy and sustainability. I currently work for RPS as a project manager, conducting environmental impact assessment for marine and coastal infrastructure projects.
Interestingly, it wasn't climbing but ocean swimming which led me to setting my sights on the world's tallest mountain. After my first expedition to high altitude in 2004 (an attempt on Spantik, a 7,000 m peak in Pakistan), I daydreamed that an expedition to Everest would be an amazing but in all likelihood unachievable goal. It was only after I finished a difficult solo crossing of the Rottnest Channel in 2006 that I started to think of what else might be possible - and that's when a certain large mountain sitting on the Nepalese-Tibetan border sprang to mind. Having set my mind to the task, I then proceeded to spend the next 4 years obtaining the necessary experience to allow me to climb successively higher mountains. In late 2006 I very nearly gave it away when I experienced pulmonary oedema on the lead-up climb to 6,850 m high Ama Dablam in Nepal. However, after some R & R and some time away from climbing I returned to the mountains in 2008 with a successful ascent of Denali, (6,194 m) the highest mountain in North America. Two further climbs in Nepal and Tibet in 2009 cemented my desire to attempt Everest.
The backdrop to this story is my experience with depression. Over the past 15 years, I have for periods struggled with depression, the infamous 'Black Dog', that nasty affliction which affects one in every eight Australians. I hope that by raising awareness of the disease, I will be able to help to reduce its stigma in our society, and that I may also be able to bring inspiration and comfort to others suffering from this disease - that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (even though at times it may not seem like it), and that through appropriate treatment and action, sufferers can go on to lead fulfilling and worthy lives. I intend to use this expedition as a means to raise awareness of a charity related to men's health and depression - more details on this will follow shortly.
Other than climbing, my great loves are for surfing, my friends and family, and my girlfriend Natalie (and our fat and increasingly moody cat, Scout).