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  Everest 2006: Fi and Paul: Four weeks to go....

Four weeks to go...

Fiona (pink fabric on her helmet) tucked into the bunch at Sandown racecourse on Tuesday. Picture courtesy of Caulfield Carnegie Cycling Club.

Trying out the new Shee-Pee at the Big Day Out.

This past week has been really busy with organising gear, logistics in Nepal and training, but incredibly our list of things to do is still growing! We have also had a busy social week with a wedding for some good friends from Switzerland and an engagement party for other close friends.

First thing tomorrow morning we head off on our last hiking trip. We are again going to hike another section of the Australian Alps Walking Track, this time from Thredbo to Mount Hotham. This will be 250kms of reasonably hilly terrain covered in 8 days and should be good training. After this, we will continue to concentrate on high-intensity cardio workouts (cycling) and limited but focused strength work at the gym. We are going to keep training right up until we leave, because there will be a number of weeks while we are trekking slowly into Everest base camp (in order to acclimatise) before we start the serious climbing, so this will give us plenty to time taper.

This week we have been really busy finalising our gear we especially making sure we have put in our last orders for any equipment that we need to get shipped in from overseas (either because it is not available in Australia, or for cost reasons). This process has really made us realise just how small the world is getting it has been so easy using the internet and cheap long-distance phone calls to discuss the pros and cons of various different products. And so far, the customer service has been fantastic – I think sometimes we Australians have a bit to learn on this front from our friends in Europe and the US.

Our recent orders include new crampons for Paul (his old ones don't fit his new Millet Everest 3 boots), insulated drinking flasks, thermoses, high-end socks, extra thermals, and extra inner-gloves. As of today, we have also the proud owner of a new still digital camera (to replace the one that came to a tragic end on Khan Tengri when the velcro fastening it to Paul's hip belt somehow came undone and saw the camera slide and bounce out of sight down the mountain to an icy death). We will be testing out our new toy on the hike.

One of the more unusual items I have recently ordered is a device which enables females to urinate into a bottle! At high camps, the cold and sometimes the campsite terrain will make it difficult and unpleasant to leave a tent in the middle of the night, so this urinary director should help solve the problem of a late night call-of-nature. Believe it or not, there are several different types available and they are not marketed for mountaineering, but for everyday use where restrooms are unsanitary. At the last a Big Day Out in Melbourne, a disposable product called the Shee-Pee was given out so that the women's toilets could operate a stand-up urinal and therefore reduce congestion!  The product I have actually ordered is called Freshette. The advice out there is to practice, practice, practice!

What else? We have just finalised our high risk medical insurance - we are with a company called International Health Insurance and they offer a product which gives year round medical insurance without the usual restrictions on adventure activities. We have used them before and they have been quite good. Our flights are all set to go but we are waiting to hear back whether Thai Airways will approve our request for 150kgs of baggage allowance they may be still reeling in their seats!

After sending out details we were thrilled to hear back from so many friends, especially those we had not spoken to recently. It was a great way to catch up on everyone's news, house moves, weddings, and lots and lots of new babies. Based on our sample of friends, I don't think that people should be too worried about a declining birthrate!

Anyway, we had better get packing for our hiking trip. We need to be in Beechworth to catch a bus by midday so that means an early start. Till next time, Fi


Paul Adler spent his childhood in various locations including Caloundra (in Queensland), Cygnet (west of Hobart), Daylesford and Brighton. Most of his secondary schooling was at St. Leonard’s College in Brighton where he gained a taste for a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, rock-climbing, sailing and canoeing.  During summers, Paul set up a small business painting the Brighton Beach bathing boxes.

Fiona Harrington grew up in Melbourne’s eastern suburb of Heathmont. She attended school at Ringwood Secondary College (formerly Ringwood High School). Her hobbies included music (playing piano and saxophone in various school bands), art and a very active social life - funded by her part-time work at the local McDonalds.  She was a reasonable swimmer and played social netball but was never a particularly sporty person.  In fact, she was someone quite likely to find an excuse for skipping PE classes!  A few things have changed since then

Fiona and Paul met during the first year of university – both studying Engineering at The University of Melbourne. Although they had quite different interests outside of their studies, they quickly formed a close bond. It wasn’t too long before Paul introduced Fi to the world of hiking – something she took to like a duck to water! 

Around this time, Paul decided that he'd like to try mountaineering and booked himself into a course in New Zealand.  Here he gained his first mountaineering experiences and learnt about the technical aspects like crevasse rescue techniques, self-arresting (using an ice-axe to stop yourself when falling), glacier travel, and ice-climbing.  Despite the fact that bad weather prevented a climb up Mount Cook, the exhaustion of long-days at altitude, and even seeing another party swept away by an avalanche (luckily everyone was ok), Paul was hooked.  Fi joined him at the end of this trip for some hiking and traveling.

Not long after they met, Paul and Fiona moved in to a shared rental house close to university – where the rent was cheap but they battled with ceilings literally falling down around their ears, some dodgy housemates, no heating whatsoever, and even a rat in the toilet!

They studied together and both worked in different Pizza Haven shops, saving to purchase their first house.  After 2 years of engineering, Fiona decided to change her study direction and switched courses to study Marketing at RMIT.  She later worked at a small firm as a marketing coordinator, and then at Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) as a business strategy consultant.  After going their separate ways with study and work, from 2000 to 2005 Paul and Fiona worked together, managing Invizage Technology – the I.T. services firm Paul and Brad Bond founded in 1996. 

During this time they squeezed in as much travel as possible, visiting Nepal, South America, Africa, Canada and the US, Kazakhstan, Thailand, some Pacific Islands and parts of Europe.  Much of this travel was based around mountain climbs – see previous climbing trips for more details on some of these. 

Fiona also began studying her MBA with Melbourne Business School - she is still studying part-time now (approximately two thirds completed).

In January 2005, Fi and Paul were married in a winery on the Mornington Peninsula.


Given that a huge phase in their lives had come to an end (running Invizage), Paul and Fiona realised that without business or family commitments, they now had an unique opportunity to attempt to climb Mount Everest in the 2006 climbing season. This had been a "fuzzy" goal that they had held for a long time but one that was quickly coming into focus.

After returning from a trip to Europe where they climbed the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, the decision was consolidated and the serious training began.  This eventually meant that Fiona had to resign from work as the combined efforts of work, training and study were proving an impossible ask (Paul hadn't worked since the final acquisition in July 2005).

And so that leads us to where we are today - training hard and organising our equipment in preparation for the biggest challenge of our lives!

Much more on them soon!

Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.

A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.




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