Australian “Training” – The Himalayas Beckon

This year’s Himalayan trip with Victor Saunders is only 6 months away and people are asking me how we keep fit enough to be in with a chance of success.

Well, Victor lives in Chamonix and is out in the mountains all the time but for me the answer is more vague. I just kind of try and keep active in a variety of ways that make me breathe heavily.

Recently that variety was well served while visiting my daughter and her boyfriend in Australia.

However, before any activity a TV performance beckoned (which came as a surprise).

Starring on Australian TV. Minimal exertion required.

The producers of an Australian breakfast TV show had somehow heard that I was visiting and thought it would be ‘interesting’ to interview me. Quite what a hot nation with no alpine mountains made of me enthusing about the Himalayas at 9am on a Sunday morning I really don’t know.

TV stardom over daughter Tess knows my restless streak well and had arranged a suitably action packed itinerary.

First out the steep sandstone cliffs of the Blue Mountains stretched my climbing muscles and felt tough for the grades. The local practice of using sparsely placed hangerless bolts to supplement natural protection was a new experience for me.

I managed to borrow some hangers but even so it took a bit of time to feel that a small bracket hooked over a bolt head wasn’t going to slip off and might even offer safe protection.

Trusting a bracket hooked over a bolt while exercising the rock climbing muscles at the Mt York cliffs in the Blue Mountains.

Next up it was canyoning! Most of the water worn clefts of the Blue Mountains are not technically desperate but they can pose other challenges. Perhaps the name Tiger Snake Canyon should have alerted me to the fact that there might be challenges ahead beyond abseiling down narrow clothes grating slots.

Heading down to meet creepy crawlies in the dark…

One of our companions in the dark depths of Tiger Snake Canyon.

Surfing next. This I found completely exhausting. Muscles I never knew I had were fully exercised and my humiliation was complete when I managed little more than catching a single wave in a belly-on position while others stood and danced around me on the crests.

Not to worry. Trying made me breathe heavily and so must have helped my fitness level. And the no drinking signs on the beach made me smile.

No drinking for four years! Wonder what happens after that?

Kayaking was next followed by trekking. The latter was supposed to be gentle but in fact involving much panting and sweating whilst getting lost on indistinct tracks through scrub and jungle – oh yes and some torrential rain added to the interest.

That brought my Australian adventures to a close. All very productive. Berghaus kit well tested (from scraping down narrow, abrasive canyons to thrashing though spiky undergrowth in the rain) much heavy breathing experienced and this year’s Himalayan trip three weeks closer.

And it wouldn’t have been Australia without seeing a nice Kangaroo.

Finally it was good to know that Berghaus kits fits all shapes and sizes.

Plenty more activities planned in the near future and that’s how I “train” for Himalayan adventures.

Mick Fowler