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Preparations and planning – The 7 Summits with Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon holding The Panel plaque
This time next week... in his final blog before heading off to Denali, mountaineer Derek Mahon speaks of what preparation is required coming up to the trip itself.

Nearing the final hurdle, the trip, and the climb itself, our mountaineer Derek Mahon gives us an insight into the preparations he and his fellow climbers need to undergo. It is not easy; it is not for the faint-hearted.

We sit down with Derek to find out just what is involved in the final preparations before Denali.

What is involved in preparing for this climb, in particular…. weight gain to combat weight loss at high altitude, overall stamina, flexibility, and good diet?

Preparation is key to success as we all know.

Denali in all my discussions with fellow climbers is a combination of patience, stamina and strength.

Patience is related to the weather as storms on Denali come and go frequently, which can leave you tent bound for days.

Stamina and endurance are essential as we will be carrying very heavy loads (backpacks 25kgs and sledges 25kgs) from camp to camp as we progress up the mountain.

Personal weight has never been a problem for me, but I do circle 75kgs as “my fighting weight” and at a level I feel I perform best.

Hydration is key and helps acclimatisation hugely. I always aim to drink at least 3 litres of water a day and include electrolytes tablets to replace natural salts and taste.

Food – Mountain meals and snacks are generally basic and are carb and calorie loaded, as you’d expect. Altitude and the daily calorie burn will not and cannot be replaced and I expect to lose at least 5 to 8 kilos. Mount Everest cost me over 12 kilos!

When are you leaving Derek and what can you expect (what are the stages you’ll be faced with)?

Stage 1: I leave for Alaska with two 100 litre duffel bags stuffed with climbing gear on the 12th of May. I arrive in Anchorage on the 13-14th of May.

Stage 2: I head to the mountain from Talkeetna on the 15th of May and base camp by a single prop plane.  On arrival, we set up camp overnight and from there we slowly edge our way through the various camps to the summit.

Stage 3: After various camp acclimatization, over several days on the mountain. I expect we will reach the summit around 31st May.

Stage 4: On summit return, we will overnight in high camp and next morning descend to lower camps and possibly base camp and return to Talkeetna and Anchorage for a well-earned shower, a real dinner, and a celebratory glass of bubbles/wine/beer!

Stage 5: We are due to arrive back in Ireland on June 10th and I look forward to telling you all about it after that.

Many thanks for all the support and well wishes I’ve received so far, it’s greatly appreciated and always incredibly encouraging.

Dream, believe, achieve my friends!