With only two weeks until our departure, we are completing our training regimens and getting our gear organized - this is no small feat, as you can tell from our mandatory gear list.
We are also taking a closer look at our itinerary, to get a better idea of what we will be facing when we get to Nepal.
While Jimmy has spent some time in the region, the rest of us have never been to the Himalayas. Jimmy, David and Mike are all traveling East, meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, before heading to Kathmandu, while Adam will be going westward (likely through Hong Kong). Nepal is literally halfway around the world, with the mileage from Central Canada virtually identical, whether you go east or west.
Kathmandu sits at approximately 4,600 feet, and has a population of 1.4 million (6 million people including suburbia). The population is primarily Buddhist and Hindu, with many temples and religious structures located in and around the city.
Weather in Kathmandu during this time of year is warm, with average daytime highs around 27c (80F) and nighttime lows of 20c (68F). Contrast this with temperatures near the summit of Mera Peak of -25c (-13F), and we will need a wide array of layers over two and a half weeks!
There are two main climbing seasons in the Himalayas - April / May and October/November - these times of year coincide with the beginning and end of the Monsoon season, which runs June to September. It is generally accepted that mid-October is the ideal to time to trek and climb, as skies are clear and the temperatures are still warm.
We will be taking a 45 minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (9,350 feet), the most dangerous airport in the world (see this video for an idea of what it looks like). Lukla is northeast of Kathmandu and is the jumping off point for many of the great treks and climbs in Nepal (including Mount Everest).
After a couple of days acclimatizing in Lukla, we will board a helicopter and fly over a mountain pass into the Hinku Valley. The Hinku Valley is relatively remote (especially when compared with the neighbouring Khumbu Valley) with small villages and spectacular scenery - these are some of the main reasons we chose this expedition.
The next week will be spent slowly making our way up the valley - near the end of the week, we will put on our harnesses, rope up and climb to Mera Peak base camp at 5,300 metres (17,500 feet). By now the evenings will be well below freezing and our expedition gets a bit tougher.
The final day will see us climb 4-5 hours to High Camp at 5,800 metres (19,000 feet) where we will rest for a few hours before making our push to the summit.
As Flatlanders, hiking or climbing in a mountainous environment is just not an option, so we are often forced to enact some unorthodox methods when training for a climb. Each of our climbs has at least one Blog Post dedicated to our training regimens - this trip will be no exception.
However, after reading this post, I think you will agree that our preparations for this trip rank as one of our most creative (and bizarre). Since we are spread out over the globe, please cue the Disney track "It's a small world after all" and we will begin our tour.
Our first stop, Houston, Texas.
Jimmy usually trains in a more conventional fashion, but the massive flooding in the Houston area now has Jimmy tearing up carpet and lifting all of his personal belongings to higher ground. After over a foot of water in his house, Jimmy never thought that swimming would be part of his training plan, but water has become an important part of his daily routine.
In all seriousness, we were glad to hear Jimmy, Regena and their families were safe, and we wish them a quick recovery from the floods that ravaged the Houston area.
Next Stop, Steinbach, Manitoba Canada.
No, it's not a scene out of ET, the Extra Terrestrial, it's a Hypoxia Chamber, or altitude tent. A generator attached to the hose that runs into the tent pumps oxygen depleted air into the tent, which simulates the conditions at altitude. This allows the user to acclimatize to high altitude without going up a mountain!
These tents have been used for over a decade - however, they have seen a marked increase in use by athletes and mountaineers over the past couple of years. One of the most notable clients was Michael Phelps, the 23 time Olympic gold medal swimmer.
David started sleeping in the tent about three weeks ago, and has worked his way up to 16,000 feet. At sea level, the oxygen content in the atmosphere is about 21%, while at David's current altitude, the oxygen content is 11.4%, which is just about half the oxygen. By the time David reaches 22,000 feet just before his trip, the oxygen level will be only 9%.
Besides his regular workout routine, David is using the Hypoxia generator with a mask in his cardio workouts twice a week. He will run on the treadmill at moderate speed for an hour at a time at increasing altitudes to try and acclimatize his body further.
For an interesting look at Hypoxia tents and their usage, click gearjunkie.com/hypoxico-altitude-tents for a great article.