So, we’ve been a bit quiet for a while, as the project took a bit of a sideways slant for one very large reason: Everest.
Just over a month ago, work asked me to film an expedition to Everest Base Camp as part of the Walking With The Wounded Everest 2012 Expedition. The trek I was to be a part of was in support of Glenfiddich, the title sponsors of the Everest expedition. I would be filming and photographing 4 competition winner trekking to Base Camp, and then I would produce and live broadcast a whisky tasting from Everest.
I immediately thought two things: 1. This was the best job in the world. 2. I’m not fit enough to be running around with a camera up there!
The trek to Everest Base Camp has two factors that would affect me: going up and down big mountains all day, and altitude. At higher altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air. This means there is less oxygen in your lungs, so every time your heart beats, less oxygen is absorbed into the blood, which your cells require for everything they do. To compensate, two things happen: you breath heavier, and your heart beats faster. When you do any form of exertion (which requires more oxygen) you find yourself quickly tiring, and even the smallest form of exertion can be challenging. We would also be climbing ascents of up to 600 metres, and a distance of 11 kilometres on a daily basis. Walking uphill is basically lunging, so I knew there would be a lot of exertion in store!
There’s not much you can do to prepare for altitude. You simply have to climb slowly, to allow your body to physiologically adapt by producing more red blood cells. This process of slowly gaining height, and walking higher in the daytimes, then sleeping at lower altitude, is known as acclimatisation. In the meantime, recovery from exertion is slower as your body has less oxygen to heal sore muscles overnight.
I realised that the best thing I could do was to get as fit as possible and do relevant, specific training. This meant recovery from exertion and strong legs – sprint training, squats and lunges!
I’ll leave Mike to explain the regime to you, and the intent behind it, but I thought I’d let you know how I’m getting on so far – I’m currently at 3800 meters in a town called Khumjung, on my way to Everest Base Camp. This is where we start to meet serious altitude, and we first started to notice the effects at 2800 meters. However, my legs are feeling strong and haven’t been sore once so far, testament to the training and conditioning that Mike prepared for me. And just to demonstrate how my recovery is getting on, today I played football with a group of Sherpa children in the snow.
(photos to come, of course…)