Although I’ll be the one climbing Mt Everest, I’m very fortunate to have a great team of people behind me. Many of them are back home and have given their support over the past year (during which I’ve been very focussed on my climbing and this website) and I’m extremely lucky to have a virtual community of supporters that will help push me up the hill with their messages and thoughts. But in addition, I also have a group of people that are playing a very direct role in my climb…
TREK TEAM 1… “THE BOYS”
Tim and Damien will meet me in Kathmandu and will trek into basecamp with me and stay for a few days, before heading back home to their work commitments.
Tim is my brother and lives in Boston, so I’m usually not able to spend much time with him. He claims to be trekking into basecamp with me “for the simple reason that Fiona will not be there to organise Paul and make sure that he actually gets to basecamp with all of his gear. Without Fiona, Paul may decide to encamp himself next to one of the markets and barter his climbing gear for a lifetimes supply of baked goods. While achieving this goal, I will also enjoy spending time with my two brothers, provide support to Paul’s mission, and determine if my mediocre exercise program has been sufficient to reach base camp.” (Obviously the first part of this has absolutely no basis whatsoever!)
Damien is also my brother and lives in Ballarat which is about 90 minutes outside of Melbourne. He says that he decided to go to basecamp “to give Paul extra support and because it is a great opportunity to have an adventure with Paul and Tim together in an area of the world I wouldn’t normally travel to”. Damien is a psychologist and might share some tips on staying focussed for the climb along the way. He hasn’t done any hiking or been to altitude before so this should be a great experience for him.
TREK TEAM 2… “THE GIRLS” (+ CAS!)
Fiona, Beck, Marg, Liz, Julia and Denise will all be trekking in to basecamp later in the trip – planning to arrive around 10th May. From here Fiona will stay at basecamp until I finish climbing, while the others will stay for a few days and then trek out again.
Beck is my sister and also lives with Fiona and I. She’s done a bit of hiking before and has been training regularly – often with Marg. Before deciding to trek to basecamp, she set out to trek the Overland Track in Tasmania – to see how she found it. After battling through knee deep snow on the first day, she found that she had a great time and really enjoyed her solo climb up Mt Ossa. She says that “Paul, Fiona and Mary’s past trip has inspired me to experience training for and trekking into Base Camp for myself. I also want to support Paul’s Everest dream in the best way I know how.”
Marg is Fiona’s mum and has never done an overnight hike before or been to altitude. When Fiona asked her why she’d decided to come into basecamp, she emailed saying, “After hearing all about your trek into Base Camp last year, seeing your photos and watching your video, I am fascinated with the people, the villages and the countryside, and I would really like to experience these for myself. However the main objective of my trip is to try to be of extra support and encouragement to Paul and to you. I am aware of the challenges you both face- particularly Paul – and I would like to help towards keeping his motivation and his confidence up for the task that lies ahead. As I have never done anything like this before, I sometimes wonder if it would just be easier to follow the trek on the computer – not to have to exercise, walk up endless steps as I try to get fit, be away from the rest of the family, buy clothes I will probably never wear again, have vaccinations, eat food I am not sure about, and miss my glass of wine at night. But I am sure that the whole experience will be exciting, stimulating and rewarding and I look forward to going with you on this adventure.”
Fiona met Liz out cycling and then later found themselves sharing a room on a cycling training camp last year. When asked what made her want to come along, she said, “I was fascinated to follow your journey last year – I learnt so much about something that was never on my agenda. In fact, it surprised me how enthralled I became, not having done any climbing myself. Having the website with such regular updates and images was just amazing. This time around, I was intending to follow you both on the website again, but then I realised I wanted to be more involved for a number of reasons: to experience some of what you both had done, to be another support for both of you, especially on the way in to Base Camp, Fiona, which I’m sure will be a bit nerve-wracking for you, and hopefully Paul to inject some more energy after you have completed a couple of acclimatisations (and maybe some extra cheese)! But I’m also keen to get to know the people in our group, the Nepalese people, watch the changes in the vegetation as the altitude changes and experience things I can’t anticipate too. Trekking in Nepal is something I have wanted to do for a long time but haven’t. The chance to be involved with both of you adds so many more dimensions to what is essentially a holiday for me. And that physical aspect of doing something that is demanding but enjoyable all at once is also important. I can hardly wait to get on that plane!”
Julia is my sister-in-law’s sister – if that makes sense (her sister Inna, is Tim’s wife). She recently came out to Australia to study for a semester. In her words, the reasons she’s decided to come along are, “The fact that I do have no experience is really my main motivating factor – I want some! I was a bit hesistant to make the decision to go. I think my talks with Paul while I was in Australia inititated the inspiration for both experiencing it for myself, and giving him support. I saw this as a great opportunity to do something that only one year ago, I would never have considered doing. Coming to Australia this past semester, really opened my mind to trying new things and testing my limits. Last year when you were climbing and Mary was at basecamp, my “mum” (as you would say), would send me links to the website and I would read the updates thinking, ‘wow, I would never do that’. And now here I am. My trip to Australia and especially my visits to the outback and hikes around Uluru and Kings Canyon amazed me – I really enjoyed experiencing the natural environment, camping and being outside. When I requested to defer my final exam in order to visit the outback, the words my Finance Lecturer said ring true again for me now, ‘This is, for most people, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In many respects, especially in terms of the possible impact on your life, remembered experiences, cultural awareness, personal maturity and development, your view of the world and your place in it, this trip is much more important than a single undergraduate class.’ I can’t wait to get there!”
Until not long ago, I hadn’t met Denise but she is a family friend of the Harringtons and contacted us about joining Fiona for the trek just before Christmas. She’s no stranger to altitude, having hiked the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu in Peru a couple of years ago. She says she was inspired by the challenge of the walk (with altitude), to see a country she has never visited before – and especially the mystery/magic that the Everest region is known for. She’s also looking forward to the chance to experience the atmosphere of Basecamp and meet new people. I hope it’s everything you’re expecting and more!
Cas followed Paul and Fiona’s climb on the internet in 2006 with great interest as he’s always had a fascination with the Himalayas and Everest. When his children came along, climbing took a back seat but now that they’re getting older, his fascination has been renewed. Cas recently climbed Mt Blanc and has a dream to one day climb Mt Everest. Trekking to basecamp is his way of starting the ball rolling and finally seeing Nepal and the mountain regions he has read so much about. He had originally planned on going with one of the UK teams (Cas lives in London) but work commitments made the timing difficult. So, at the last moment when it looked like he could take some time off, he contacted Fiona and will be joining this group on their trek into basecamp.
For those that followed along last year, Fiona doesn’t really need an introduction. She’s my wife and we climbed Everest together last year – she was lucky enough to reach the summit on May 23rd 2006. This year she’s coming to basecamp to support me on my second attempt. She says her main role is to “help keep Paul’s spirits up, keep him focussed on the big picture and not too homesick. While he’s up high on the mountain, I’m also going to keep reminding him of our safety rules that we developed for last year’s climb and have added to them since then. Last year we saw how people would want to get their climb finished in a hurry so that they could get home sooner and we feel that this attitude clouds your judgement about when the safest time to do things is. Also, I want to make sure he’s eating well and in a good frame of mind for climbing. I’ll have very mixed feelings being there this year. I think I’ll be more worried about him climbing not being right there and doing it myself. I’ll also be a bit envious (but not enough to go through the icefall again!) I hope that this time I’ll take more enjoyment from the trek into basecamp this year, now that I know what’s ahead.”
Nick Grainger – Moderator Extraordinaire
As many of you will know, Nick approached Fiona and I just before we left for our 2006 climb after reading about us in the local newspaper. At the time he was in the final stages of completing his PhD researching the effect of the Internet on expediton communications. As part of his research, Nick had sailed around the world in a 57ft yacht as second in command, running the online communications for a major environmental campaign to save the albatross. In the few frantic days before we left Nick inspired us to take a more ambitious approach to attracting and engaging an online audience, and gave us many suggestions and tips on how to go about it. He must have liked us because he volunteered to manage our online communications while we were away on the expedition. We’re pleased to say that Nick (now Dr Nick!) is still with us and actively involved with the website.
For my 2007 climb, Nick will is once again taking on the role of moderator and will be making sure I get everyone’s messages on the mountain. On occasion, he’ll be fixing up my posts, or editing messages to ensure that they are readable and are not offensive in any way (you never know how much the altitude might affect me!). In this role, Nick is my primary contact with the outside world, so if there is ever a need to get in touch with me urgently, please contact him.
In 2006, my brother Tim provided invaluable assistance with keeping the website up and running but this time he’ll be with me for most of the climb. At late notice, I approached our good friend Luke and he agreed to step in to take on this role. Luke is one of Fiona’s oldest friends (they went to kindergarten together!) and has been working in IT software development his whole career. Several years ago he gave Fiona her first lessons in website development – skills that she’s continued to use on many projects since then. Luke’s incredibly bright with great problem solving skills (and an all-round nice guy!). We don’t expect anything to go wrong with this new website – but with IT, you have to expect the unexpected and we feel very lucky to have Luke onboard just in case.