Preparation is almost everything

31st August 2014
I am always amazed how your body changes in between expeditions and prepares for the next challenge..

It’s been 45 days since I stood on the top of Mont Blanc after having made it to the top on my own. During that day and a half, I put my body through some extreme “workout”, starting with a long trek up to the Tete Rousse glacier onto some more technical scrambling, 2 + 2 hour sleep and leaving for the summit at 2.30am. At that point I felt incredibly strong and in shape. I remember putting one foot in front of the other on the Les Bosses ridges about an hour before the summit, not even worrying whether my legs would get me to the top. I didn’t have the luxury of time to take the descending easy so when I left the summit around 7.15am I headed back to the Gouter hut with only stopping twice to take photos, rehydrate and grab a snack. I collected my helmet from the hut and carried on heading down.
Since I was in the “first wave” of climbers heading down the mountain, I was lucky not be held up by people coming up on the rock face between the Tete Rousse and Gouter hut. It was a lot trickier going down on the rocks and after a while, putting my dignity aside I switched to a different way of descending – sat on my bum, swung my legs out into the air and with the help of my arms and pulled myself lower. It kept me closer to the rocks however I found my crampons catching the surface, luckily I managed to avoid getting completely stuck and flying face down into the void. I felt a lot safer when I was back on the Tete glacier continuing down the mountain. I made it back to the Mont Blanc tram station where I even had 20 minutes to lay down and relax my shattered body before the 1.30pm tram.
10 hours later I was asleep in my own bed in London.

It wasn’t until the following morning when I realized my body was in agony. I felt muscles hurting I didn’t know existed and if you saw me walking to work that day, you’d have thought I had more problems than just muscle pain! ☺
For the next three days I struggled with even the smallest moving tasks but absolutely nothing could wipe the smile off my face. In the evening of day three I knew what I had to do… an ice bath followed by a warm shower used by many athletes and sports men.
The icy water makes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your battered legs. I sat there for 15 minutes then took a warm shower, which helped pumping fresh blood back into my legs. I’ve read studies that suggest it helps with the inflamed area and the tissues to heal quicker. Must admit I felt like a million dollar the following day. After the next expedition, I will probably repeat this as soon as I’m home and not waiting for days! Lesson learnt there.

Each expedition is very different. Mont Blanc was an “express” day and a half climb, my next trek Kilimanjaro will take about 8 days and Everest next May will be a 2-month push. But it’s not just about the length of the trip; my training also varies from mountain to mountain.
At 5,895m / 19,341 feet above sea Kilimanjaro is the forth highest of the 7 summits and all trekkers suffer with altitude sickness. There will be very long hours of uphill walks day after day so I’ve been spending a lot of time on an inclined treadmill with a backpack on my back. I also attend two double- spinning classes a week as part of my daily training so my muscles are now used long workouts.
I also implemented a triathlon type training; after an hour on the treadmill I attend a double spinning then jump into the pool at the gym. When I’m back from Kilimanjaro, I would like to focus on this more.
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a 30-minute altitude spinning class at the Altitude Centre in Central London. This high intensity session was at a simulated altitude of 2800m in a chamber. Of course it’s something you need to do a couple of times a month to feel the effect but I was pleased when the session ended, my body was actually craving for more.

In three days I’ll be flying out to Tanzania to face my second of the 7 summits, Kilimanjaro. And what my body is craving now is food as if it knows what’s coming up. I don’t mind piling on a couple of kilos pre-trekking, I know I will shred more on the mountains.. you can easily burn 6-7000 calories climbing Kili!

It's easy to say I feel fit now but hiking up in altitude will be another story and the real test of strength and stamina... and I can't wait to be there! :)