Keep your Spirits High: a week on

RISK by Anon

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams,
before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

This week I’ve wept, laughed, had to reach out for support from those I love, all because I exposed my ideas, dared to dream, lived that dream, believed in myself and tried so hard.

Gloomy Goodbye 150x150 Keep your Spirits High: a week on

Gloomy departure

Sunny welcome Home

Sunny welcome Home

I left Nepal under a very dark cloud and arrived home to beautiful sunshine. Even the Customs staff made me feel welcome assisting the Singapore staff to wheel me and my luggage out to my loved ones.

But the weather reflected my emotions. That beautiful day quickly turned into a dirty high fire danger day. The smell of burnt toast with a touch of Eucalyptus filled the air as I headed into the physio to start my recovery.

I kept trying to focus on things to be grateful for: I hadn’t hit my head, the rehab will only be a matter of weeks, I got to deliver the SACA cricket equipment to the kids….. but the list quickly petered out as I’d fall back into the cellar with a very unhelpful, self pitying “it’s not fair”.

Care Bear 150x150 Keep your Spirits High: a week on

Care Bear from my Niece & Beautiful Sister in Law

Chiros Recovery Pack 150x150 Keep your Spirits High: a week on

Sam my Chiro's Rehab Pack

But I was tired, only a handful of hours sleep since Tuesday 4:00am. Finally Thursday night I slept.

Sleep has definitely helped my perspective not to mention the Care Bear arriving in the post, the Rehab Pack from Sam my Chiro**, the many phone calls and kind messages of support. So has positive practical actions. Starting the insurance claim process has lifted a great weight. Next week I’ll start job hunting.

It’s still a roller-coaster but the lows are now higher. I still haven’t worked out what’s next. That will come in time.

For now I just need to take each day as it comes and surround myself with beautiful people who care.

KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH   Lyrics Patrick McMahon
So don’t give up until your dreams come true
And your heart will answer when you want it to”

I assure you I won’t be giving up.



** Prior to leaving I’d mentioned to Sam that when starting on “My Way to Everest” there was only one type of Tim Tam and now there’s a whole range I’ve never tasted! He clearly remembered!
My question to Sam was “I have a snotty nose, the Khumbu cough and a bung leg, all of which I know how to fix but what do I do for a Diabetic Coma?”
His answer: “Go climb a mountain”
That put the sunshine back into my day :)

Ember's Everest Escapade: Day 1 without Trotty

EEE 4. Penny 150x150 Embers Everest Escapade: Day 1 without Trotty

Penny provided a snug place to watch the mountains go by

EEE 5. Blessed 150x150 Embers Everest Escapade: Day 1 without Trotty

My blessed Shrundi strings

It’s day one without Trotty and the Team have kept me busy. We climbed ever higher, each step taking us closer to our dream, the summit of Everest.

I wanted to show girls in Nepal and Australia that we can chase our dreams. And Robin is doing the same for girl scouts in the USA.  So I’m thinking this whole dream thing is border-less.

Where ever you are in the world let me know what your Everest is and what you’re doing to achieve it. I’m excited we can share our journeys together, all of us.

EEE Robin1 150x150 Embers Everest Escapade: Day 1 without Trotty

Big Aussie Coooeee to the Girl Scouts in the USA

And we can even share how scary it is sometimes.
This is my first day without Trotty and I was a bit scared, but having great team mates to support me got me through. No dreams are achieved entirely on your own. I know, I met Team Trotty and there were a lot of them helping her get here. And I know they’ll be helping her get through this setback.

Time to crawl into my sleeping bag, its been a big exciting day



Ember Goes Solo

EEE 1. the hand over 150x150 Ember Goes Solo

The hand over

EEE 2. Robins bkpk 150x150 Ember Goes Solo

Her new pouch

My journey has ended but Ember’s hasn’t.

As soon as I introduced her to the team they made her the 8th member of our Expedition Team. So when I tumbled into the potato cellar…..can anyone actually read that with a straight face? :) …. there was no question of Ember ending her journey. The team rallied round and vowed to carry her to the summit.

She snuggled into Robin’s backpack pouch and set off on her own to show girls, young and old, that they can chase their dreams even when faced with the obstacles life throws at us.

EEE 2. the team at KJ 150x150 Ember Goes Solo

The Team rally to support Team Member #8 and Farewell #7

EEE 3. setting of on her own adventure 150x150 Ember Goes Solo

Farewell Ember, Climb safe.

My last view of Ember before I was bundled into the Helicopter



Keep Your Spirits High

“When the world outside has blown a hole right through your pride
Keep it going, don’t say die, keep your spirits high”
Lyrics Patrick McMahon

The hole is crevasse sized! and I’m struggling to keep my spirits high right now.

Normally when I post about the setbacks I wait until I’ve come out the other side and show the whole journey. Today I’ve decided to share with you how it feels right here “at the bottom of the cellar” so to speak. Right now I have no idea what the other side will look like or when it will be.

When I speak to groups I always say:

“I don’t define myself by my climbing. If somebody said ‘Trotty, mate, it’s all over, don’t get me wrong  I’d be disappointed, there’d be a few tears, maybe a few choice words, but then I’d look back at what I’ve achieved”

Well I’m either a hypocrite or more likely its just way too early in the process. I definitely underestimated the number (litres) of tears and there were more that a few choice words, I actually got quite angry briefly. Right now I’m feeling gutted, shattered.

I feel that I’ve let so many people down:
The people who have supported me, my family, friends, Team Trotty, SACA, CFS, Torch.
And more devastatingly the people I was trying to support, Plan, the kids, Dementia DownUnder
and even more humiliatingly the thought of the people who will gleefully have a sense of satisfaction in my failure “See I knew she couldn’t do it, Who did she think she was?”

I know we’re not supposed to care what other people think, but you know what? Right now it sucks.

In my heart I know the poem “Risk” by Anon is right:

“Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing”

I had to rebuild my life at 30, I just have to do it again at 50. Difference is, this time, I know I can do it…….But right now that doesn’t make it any less scary or empty………I will get back up and pull myself out of this hole….Oh right I did that bit already :)

I have to find some humour in this, so who can come up with the best spud joke?

xx the Couch Potato

The Dream is Over but it's a World 1st

Trotty in the cellar with the potato 150x150 The Dream is Over but its a World 1st

Trotty in the cellar with the potato

Cant fault the care1 150x150 The Dream is Over but its a World 1st

In hospital. Can't fault the care.

I’m in hospital in Kathmandu, eating as many potatoes as I can as revenge.

Friday afternoon, after a beautiful morning walk from Namche to Khumjung, chatting with Namgel (Dawa’s brother) much of the way, we settled into the tea-house. I was in and out many times, back and forth to my room, checking if my duffle had arrived, to the toilet. But my last trip to the loo brought disaster. I returned through the door, turned to close it but it was latched open, turned back to continue into the room and my next conscious thought was laying on my back in a black cave…. and Pain….excruciating pain.

I had fallen into the potato cellar in the floor, just inside the door, that had been opened to collect dinner. The menu is now Mashed Potato ONLY!

Bruises are still appearing all over, the hands while the most painful and not usable for 24 hours are superficial, there is a chip (pun intended) off my right hip but the Knee is the Dream Killer. I am just grateful it wasn’t my head, face or spine.

The professionalism of Adventure Consultants came to the fore.

Dr Sophie was fetched and jumped into action. Dawa and Namgel appeared from nowhere and never left my side.

Rob got the Logistic Ducks all in a row,  Insurance, helicopter evacuation etc

Lydia had me packed and I don’t mean everything stuffed in my duffle. No she had it separated as I would need it: Travel clothes for cold 6am mountain start and 8am hot Kathmandu landing; Hospital bag; valuables. Then made me repeat back what was where (remember I’m, if not still in shock, not fully with it). This proved to be invaluable particularly given how immobile I was.

Then they dealt with a very emotional, gutted me.

Good Samaritans Sharon John Dawa1 150x150 The Dream is Over but its a World 1st

Good Samaritans Sharon, John, Dawa

Reality hits as team leaves without me 150x150 The Dream is Over but its a World 1st

Reality hits as team leaves without me

My team members and the Trekking team went above and beyond the call. Getting me to bed, even taking me to the toilet in the middle of the night.

All the while Caroline was working the Kathmandu end and was with me every step of the way only leaving to get us food.

Since I started this I’ve been released and back at the Hotel, with a flight home booked for Tuesday.

All over as bundled in for Heli Evac 150x150 The Dream is Over but its a World 1st

All over as bundled in for Heli Evac

I always said I’d be the first person form my house, in my street, in my suburb to summit Everest, well that’s gone but now I have a legitimate World First!! I’ve confirmed no-one else has missed a summit by falling in a potato cellar :)


From a rather bruised and battered


Ember's Everest Escapade

Ember Dreaming11 300x225 Embers Everest Escapade

Ember's Dream is to Climb Everest with Trotty

Team Trotty has grown by one and for the first time ever, I won’t be travelling alone. My climbing companion is Ember ……..but wait….I’m skipping ahead.

Let me go back a few weeks. I was visiting Brett at CFS Region 1 HQ to discuss my visit to Plan Nepal’s school construction site and the CFS R1 offer to support the school by raising funds this year to fit out the classrooms with equipment, when we interrupted by an excited squeal.

There was one very determined young koala who had decided, then and there, that she was coming with me. Brett introduced me to Smokey the Koala’s Twin Sister and that was it, she jumped in my car and has been training with me ever since.

But I couldn’t keep calling her “Smokey’s Sister”, she needed a name of her own. The R1 volunteers helped with suggestions but it was when I was practising my speech for an upcoming event that I heard a second squeal. I was talking about Dreams and “finding that “ember” inside you, that you need to fan into a raging fire.” Ember had heard her name. And more than that:

Ember Training 300x225 Embers Everest Escapade
Ember helping pack 300x225 Embers Everest Escapade

She knew that, that’s what she wanted to do in Nepal and here in South Australia. She wants to help young girls to identify that Ember inside and help them to fan it into a raging fire that will allow them to achieve their dreams whatever their “Everest” may be.

21 sleeps to go


Trotty and Ember

The definition of insanity?

My family and friends would probably say climbing mountains!

The other definition is of course doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

So this time around it’s a completely different approach.

The main change as you know is that I’m not doing it on my own. You’ve met my coaches through their blogs. They have me working smarter and the rest of my team keep my body going

But there have been 3 other big changes recently. 2 are connected.

AC course1 150x150 The definition of insanity?

JC from AC1 150x150 The definition of insanity?

JC setting up a circuit. Jumar up, Traverse across, Rappel down, over anchor points

This time I’m climbing with the company I’ve always wanted to climb with, Adventure Consultants.
But as you know it’s been a while since I’ve been on a mountain. Talking with Guy Cotter we both agreed that I needed to get my crampons on ice and rock prior to Everest. So in mid January I headed back to NZ, spending 8 days with Adventure Consultants guide Jyamchang (8 times Everest summiter) to work on skills and id weaknesses.

It’s the best thing I could have done to prepare for Everest 2018.

And the 3rd big change?

I’ve always said:
“My sport is 95% mental” and
Everything happens for a reason ….its just that sometimes the Fates are a little slow to let us in on the secret
Well looking at my preparation 99% of it was about the physical. It didn’t take a genius to perform the GAP Analysis did it?
I needed help with the “muscle between the ears”! But for months I had no luck finding the right person.
This is where the Fates were working their tricky, very obscure magic. The Chiro I’d been seeing for years ended up in gaol!! You can imagine the hole this put in my team, I was rocked by it. But don’t forget those Fates. This led me to my new Chiro Sam who is a much better fit with Team Trotty and he ……drumroll please……..led me to Adam. I call him my Psycho Dude!!! but I think he’d prefer Sports Psychologist! He is providing the much needed solution to that Crevasse Sized Gap in my preparation.
And what a difference he has made.

39 sleeps out from Everest 2018 I’m feeling better prepared than I’ve ever been



Silver Linings

Yeah!! I finally found the Silver Lining to The Great Down Dry-cleaning Disaster. Pollyanna would be proud :)

Researching replacement gear was an eye (and wallet!!) opening experience.  I had no idea Technology had changed so much in the last 8 years and I made the “No Brainer” decision to replace all my clothing and equipment except for my 8,000m boots and ice-axe. This was a little “stressful”!! but James at Bogong Equipment brought much needed calm to the process. He spent 3 months working with me on the list and set the timelines.

And it all fell into place.

I hopped a plane to Melbourne and spent 2 full days with James trying on gear. It was an amazing 2 days being surrounded by people with such passion for the outdoors and enthusiasm for sharing their knowledge with anyone who is willing to learn.

GEAR James Bogong1 300x225 Silver Linings

James at Bogong: Job done! Now to box and ship it to Adelaide

And learn I did.  When I said Technology has changed, I mean to the point where I didn’t even recognise some of the layers. Thank goodness I’ll be spending time in NZ to see how the layers and I perform together.

Being of a NON Traditional Athletic build, purchasing gear has always been daunting if not a down right miserable experience. Not so this time. James made the whole process easy and comfortable. Using the storeroom as a change-room was a stroke of genius. No Mirrors!! so I had to assess all items on feel not looks.  Though I can assure you they all had one feel in common HOT! I chose a 40 degree day to try on Down!  Onya!!

I enjoyed the discussions, James’ knowledge vs My experience vs Adventure Consultants recommendations. I trusted James’ opinion, he stood his ground when I was trying to spend money on unnecessary items but more importantly identified issues I hadn’t even thought of. I didn’t realise the glue in my 8,000m boots has a lifespan. Could you imagine if the crampons and soles separated from the boot on the Hill?   …….. and that’s why I don’t buy on line!!  The tips and tricks I learned were in themselves worth the plane ticket.

Now it’s time to sort, check to gear list, pack and triple check to list.

Best Christmas presents ever!

Best Christmas / Birthday ever!

Gear 3 225x300 Silver Linings

This is just my clothing

Happy New Year everyone. Here’s to all of us achieving new heights in 2018



PS I’ll be spending the next 12 weeks walking around the house breaking in my brand new boots

Breaking News

I’m excited

It’s been confirmed :)

I’ll be visiting the Suryodaya School construction site before I start the trek into Everest.

Earlier this year our #8850for850 community helped raise funds to get 850 children into a brand new Earthquake resistant school.

Construction of the Suryodaya School is well underway and will be nearly a third of the way through the build when I visit.

I arrive in Kathmandu on the 27th March and will spend 2 days visiting the Makwanpur Region before joining my team on the 1st of April.

A big thank you to Plan International Australia and Nepal for arranging this visit. I know the logistics involved in visiting such a remote area are quite complex.

I can’t wait to provide you with an update and photos of the School and other Plan projects in the region.



Rubble 300x195 Breaking News

This time next year they'll be in a brand new school.

Plan Turns 80

Plan International Logo

1937 - 2017

I’ve been a child sponsor with Plan International Australia since my first climbing expedition to Ecuador in 2004 and an advocate of the “Because I am a Girl” campaign since 2009 but I’m a relative newcomer…… 2017 is a HUGE milestone for Plan International.

80 years advancing children’s rights.

That makes Plan one of the world’s oldest Child Support Agencies.
That’s something to be incredibly proud of.
I know I’m proud to play my tiny part.

It all began in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War when British journalist John Langdon-Davies and aid worker Eric Muggeridge witnessed the impact of War on children. They founded ‘Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain’ in order to provide food, shelter and clothing to those children whose lives had been destroyed.

Over the coming years Plan grew and the name changed to reflect the changing needs of a world impacted by new conflicts (WWII) and the needs of the Developing World (*refer timeline below).

Langdon-Davies conceived the idea of a personal relationship between a child and a sponsor – a model that puts the child at the centre and remains the core of what Plan does 80 years later.

Today, Plan International is a global organisation that works in 51 developing countries and raises funds to support their work in 21 countries including Australia. They are advancing children’s rights and equality for girls, working not only in local communities but on the world stage, advising World Governments and the UN.

Child Safe Area Nepal

Safe and Learning


Their work doesn’t stop there.

Man keeps creating disasters in the form of wars and political and religious violence.

Mother Nature keeps upping the ante with Earthquakes**, Cyclones and Droughts.

Plan is there to set up child safe areas, to keep some sense of normality for the children while their parents can go about the business of recovery in the knowledge that their children are safe and being helped to deal with the horrors they’ve witnessed.


Across the Developing World Plan has a multitude of programmes educating young people and communities. To name just a few:

Plan WASH3 Plan Turns 80

'Wash Wash Wash your hands'

No Open Defecation Malawi

No Open Defecation Malawi

  • WASH- Water Sanitation And Hygiene: Laos, Timor-Leste, Uganda and Zimbabwe -17,000 people have improved water supply, 22,000have toilets, 37,000 now have knowledge of safe hygiene practices
  • Youth Economic Empowerment: Vocational skills training in Cambodia and Zimbabwe for 11,434 vulnerable men and women
  • Promoting Rights and Accountabilities in African Communities: reached 36,800 people in 168 communities raising awareness of the rights of the vulnerable and training 700 members of the communities to provide support and services
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management Programme: Uganda reached 8,416 people, 53 people trained to make cheaper pads for girls and women, 72 teachers trained to continue hygiene education
  • Early Childhood Programme: 90,615 people across Uganda, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Zambia, Laos, Vietnam and India
Supporting Plan & BIAAG in 2011

Supporting Plan & BIAAG 2011

Everest 2010 150x150 Plan Turns 80

Everest 2010 had to go back in 2011 for a better photo!

I am so proud to call myself a Plan Supporter and I want to wish Plan International a well deserved Happy 80th Anniversary.
I could say “Here’s to the next 80 years” but my real wish for Plan International is for the day when their job is done as the World no longer needs them.

Happy 80th Plan


PS Flag holding is part of my training for Everest 2018 ;) I’m improving…slowly

1930s – Plan International was founded as “Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain.”
1940s – During World War II, the organization became known as “Foster Parents Plan for War Children” and worked in England, helping displaced children from all over Europe. After the war, Plan International extended aid to children in France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece and briefly in Poland, Czechoslovakia and China.
1950s – As Europe recovered, Plan International gradually moved out of these countries and opened new programs in less developed countries. It became “Foster Parents Plan Inc.” to reflect the goal of bringing lasting change to the lives of children in need, whatever their circumstances.
1960s – Foster Parents Plan expanded its work to countries in South America and Asia. In 1962, U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was honorary chairwoman during Plan’s Silver Jubilee.
1970s – In 1974, the global name became Plan International as programs now spanned South America, Asia and Africa. 1978 Plan began working in Nepal
1980s – Belgium, Germany, Japan and the UK joined Canada, the US, Australia and the Netherlands as donor countries. Plan International was recognised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
1990s – Plan International offices opened in France, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and the Republic of Korea.
2000s – The name Plan International evolved and a unified global identity was created to help make the organization more easily recognized around the world, and the logo was updated.
2007 the “Because I am a Girl” campaign to promote rights of girls and bring millions of girls out of poverty around the world

Because I am Girl Annual Reports (click link to read full report)
2007: The State of World’s Girls
2008: In the Shadows of War
2009: Girls in the Global Economy: Adding It All Up
2010: Digital and Urban Frontiers
2011: Because I am a Girl: So What About the Boys?
2012: Because I am a Girl: Learning for Life
2013: In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters
2014: Pathways to Power: Creating Sustainable Change for Adolescent Girls
2015: The Unfinished Business of Girls’ Rights
2016: Counting the Invisible: Using Data to Transform the Lives of Girls and Women by 2030

**Nepal Earthquake, One year on by the numbers:

  • 81 Child friendly spaces
  • 21,000 children are studying in 310 temporary learning centres
  • 43,672 families received safe drinking water kits
  • 44,968 children received emotional and psychological support
  • 52,767 households received emergency shelter kits
  • 71,300 women and girls benefited from menstrual hygiene kits
  • 287,847 individuals directly helped including 117,230 children.
  • 479 masons and carpenters trained on earthquake-resistant construction techniques supporting 11,000 households to ‘build back better’
  • 10,435 families benefited from short-term employment opportunities.