One year after a fatal avalanche forced him to put his Seven Summits adventure on hold, Paul Devaney is returning to Nepal to finally conquer Mount Everest.
Having flown out to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu on Sunday, Paul, who is a native of Killoe, arrived in the town of Lukla yesterday, Tuesday, from where he will begin his Trek to Base Camp.
“It will take 2o days to get there,” he told the Longford Leader.
“Trekkers can do it in around eight days, but we’ll be climbing two mountains along the way. One is 5,100 metres high, and the other - Island Peak - is 6,200 metres high. “Going up and down will allow my body to get used to the altitude. Base Camp at Everest is at an altitude of 5,300 metres.”
Paul went on to explain that there is only one window of opportunity to scale Everest each year.
“Usually there are winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour on the mountain, but sometime around the 15th to 25th of May, the jetstream moves away from it,” he said. “It’s very variable and you have to be there waiting and watchinig the weather information. “We’ll be there from the 23rd of April.
“We will have Sherpas with us, and we have to perform a Puja ceremony with them beforehand. It’s a religious ceremony and they won’t go up the mountain without doing it.”
Paul continued by saying the climb will involve an initial partial ascent of Everest to allow his body to acclimatise to the environmnet.
“Then we move back to Base Camp to re-stock before climbing straight back up to Camp Two because we’ll be stronger the second time around, and also because there’s a greater avalanche risk at Camp One. We’ll stay there for two days before climbing to Camp Three and putting our oxygen masks back on. After that, we’ll move to Camp Four and onto the South Coll and the ‘Death Zone’ at 8,000 metres.”
At this stage, Paul’s body wil essentially be in a controlled state of dying.
“We won’t be able to sleep because of it, and our appetites will be gone,” he said. “It’ll be a real endurance test.
“At the last stage we’ll climb in the dark for nine hours to reach the summit around 7am, and we’ll spend 15 minutes there.
“All along the way, the Sherpas will be keeping an eye on us. If we become non-responsive, they’ll turn us back. You also have to assess yourself every 10 minutes. If anything happens, you’re basically dead because helicopters can’t fly that high to rescue you. If you need extra oxygen after the summit, you have to race to the Hillary Steppe, where there’s a stash kept.”
The mountaineer admitted the descent is the most dangerous part of the expedition.
“It’s where most accidents happen. Depending on the window, it can be very busy on the mountain, and we’ll need to plough through ascendors on the way back down to get to Camp Four, which is below 8,000 metres so we’ll be able to eat and allow our bodies to recover.”
After negotiating the icefalls and crevasses, Paul plans to be back at Base Camp by May 28, adding that he hopes to be flying back to Ireland the following week.
Paul concluded by saying he quit his job with Rolls Royce’s aerospace division to dedicate time for training and the ascent itself.
“I may never have the time to do this again,” he reasoned.