After almost seven years, Longford man Paul Devaney is nearing the end of a quest which has so far seen him climb the highest peaks on six continents, but his greatest challenge is still ahead of him.
Next week Paul will travel from Ireland to Nepal, where he will take on the ultimate climb; Mount Everest.
“It’s regarded as the toughest climb,” Paul says. “Once you climb above 23,000 feet you enter the ‘death zone’ where you need to use supplemental oxygen. Your body can’t really adapt and your appetite disappears, so you have to force yourself to eat as much as possible.”
Paul adds that he will essentially be “in a controlled process of dying” at that point, with his body consuming all it can to obtain energy - even muscle. “I’m expecting to lose around 12 kilograms,” he admits.
Paul says preparations for the climb are on a “different level” to his previous ascents, and he’s currently living in special accomodation on the University of Limerick campus which simulates the altitudes he’ll be dealing with.
“For the past 150 days I’ve been living at a simulated altitude similar to that of the base camp, so my body will quickly adapt when I’m there,” he explains.
Paul’s Irish Seven Summits expedition will require over 60 days to complete after arival at base camp, as they will first have to practice by climbing another nearby mountain. He will then have to make three partial ascents of Everest to help prepare his body for the rigorous conditions before making the final push to the summit.
“You have to feel comfortable,” he continues.
Paul is also using the climb to raise money for Liam’s Lodge, a respite facility in Kerry for children suffering from rare genetic disorders and their families.
“It helps provide rest and a breather for them after months of hospital and 24-hour care,” he adds.
Paul flies to Nepal on March 28 and expects to be back in Ireland on June 4.