7 Summits – 4 of 7 – Aconcagua, Argentina, South America

#5 Blog – Training & Diet – Jan 2nd

Good Tuesday morning to you.

I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.    

With under two week to my departure for Aconcagua this together for me is the most nervous and exciting time. Nervous of catching the ever annual viral flu, nervous of injury, nervous of catching any bug, nervous of air traffic controller strikes but overall excited with such an adventure in prospect and new gear ordering, checking and re-checking the gear required list, and packing and re-packing. I usually pack and repack six times!

Training thankfully this year, touching wood, has been kind to me and again thankfully no serious injuries picked up. Having ended another very satisfying competitive triathlon, adventure racing, running, and sportive season there was not down time to look forward to. Having climbed Kilimanjaro successfully in August it was again time to prepare for another climb – the 4th of my 7 Summit challenge. Concentrations switched to specific strengthening, conditioning and stamina training while also continuing with my normal protein, carb and moderate caloric low fat diet.

Having more or less finalised expedition details and dates in October my training schedule was increased from one to two sessions daily 6 days a week. My initial early morning session is either a 10km run or a 30km bike ride. My afternoon/evening session concentrate on strength circuits .. burbies, sit-ups, press-ups, weights, TRX, spinning etc which last from 45 to 75 minutes. I can no longer pool swim as the chlorine effects my sinuses. I also try and get to the mountains as much as is possible – no better training for the mountains as being in the mountains !

Diet alongside such a relentless regime is very important. I have found a high protein and carb diet suiting me and my recovery best with care not too many calories and no bad fats ! I do take Optimum Nutritionals product from Amino’s, Protein/Recovery Powers and Bars. ON have been a stalwart sponsor since 2014 (see below) – thank you Team ON ! – and is a great product.  

Hydration is paramount as is rest a of course sleep. I am an 8 hour sleeper and while I do enjoy the earlier starts to accommodate my training and not a great serial TV watcher I’d be heading to bed around 9.00 !

Lough Key Triathlon (Swim)

Quest Killarney Adventure 73km Race

Early morning session

I’m so looking forward to my down town, no training, no eats or drinks restrictions, and rest when I return in early February.

Derek Mahon - Take Care and Keep Your Dreams Alive!

#4 Blog – “We are powerful beyond measure” – Dec 18th

Good Monday morning to you.   

This is from Marianne Williamson’s book written in 1992 ‘’Return to Love’’ and while sometimes referenced to Nelson Mandela, it is indeed the speech ‘’he actually never gave’’ …

This is a very powerful piece and having received this, in a framed picture of Mount Everest prior to my departure for Mount Everest in April 2014, it had a profound positive mental impact on me, especially the line ‘’we are powerful beyond measure’’ … I had prepared mentally for what I thought was ahead of me but this piece gave me a real sense of responsibility to myself, a power of ‘’actually why not me’’ self-belief. This poem empowered me.

It is our light that frightens us not the darkness … Our presence automatically liberates others!

Having enjoyed success in my own life I have incredible self-belief and confidence within myself.
I have seen how my efforts, my hard work and success has impacted, has inspired and has motivated others which drives me even further. 

The last line  …   ‘’Our presence automatically liberates others’’  

Derek Mahon - Take Care and Keep Your Dreams Alive!

#3 Blog – It was the TV’s fault! – Dec 11th

Good Monday morning to you.

Many years ago I sat in complete captivation watching a climbing documentary. It was explaining the risks, the dangers, the heights, the altitude, the cold, the wind, the showers, the blizzards, the climbers and their attitude and appetite for adventure and repeated adventure despite mountain and Mother Nature’s discomforts. What struck me were the rewards after effort, the satisfaction of summit and the real emotion of returning safely to base camp and elation of returning home.

I’ve often been asked why climb ? Why endure such discomfort ? Why risk your own life ?  Why ?
George Mallory, who died on Mount Everest in 1924, responded, "If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of the mountains and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life."

George Mallory and Andrew Irvine tombstone at Mount Everest Base Camp

In Banjo Bannon’s book, Ascending the Dreams, he wrote .. ‘’If you are asked why you climb mountains by someone who does not understand the mountains, that someone will never understand the explanation, nor will they ever’’ ! 

The fascination of the mountains was always there for me. I could only imagine or try to imagine what it is like to reach a summit. The same thoughts are streaming through my head as I stand and look at Mount Everest from just above Base Camp. Having made it that far I was also praying Mother Nature and the Mountain Gods would afford me the opportunity to climb and return safely.

I felt the same captivation and inspiration when some years ago I attended a charity function and presentation in Belfast hosted by Noel Hanna. I was so in awe of what Noel had achieved, I decided to make my dreams a reality and having spoken to Noel, whom I’d never met before, signed up for  the next expedition and climb Mount Elbrus in Southern Russia in 2012. A great friend of mine, Peter, who had invited me to the function and presentation was somewhat taken back, with what he thought was rather impulsive, but as I explained my dreams, my ambitions, my intrigue of the mountains and the challenges they offer it all made a little more sense to him. He later became a sponsor which was for me was a real and great surprise but more so affirmation of his belief in me and likewise boosted my own confidence to succeed with his support.
So it was the TV’s fault ! ….

Derek Mahon - Take Care and Keep Your Dreams Alive!

#2 Blog – Begin and Prepare – Dec 4th

Good Monday morning to you.

All of my previous climbs have been challenging in very different ways. And within these challenges many fears have and had to be faced and overcome. In overcoming these fears, the fears themselves must/were identified and conquered. In my case, believe it or not, my greatest fear was heights !
And this brings me to Benjamin Franklin’s quote …

In preparation I researched fear and panic. The fine lines between such, which can blur a decision and lead to a disaster or death on a big mountain. I learned how to remain calm and in a conscious state to make the right decision or the very next step to safety. In other words, staying in absolute connection with yourself and your being and feeling the situation, dealing and coping with it.

In addressing my own fear, heights,  I decided to spend a day ‘zip-lining’ in Tibradden. A day I vividly remember for the adrenalin, the stress, the anxiety, the cold sweats, the nerves, the actual 100% determination to succeed and get myself to the next ‘’safe’’ base and push on further. This was all despite my absolute fear of heights and being clipped in safely which made for no consolation !

The end of day was so great I felt so fulfilled, so proud of myself having overcome what was my biggest fear. The exact same feeling which Iain Lee (I’m a Celebrity 2017) felt and exhibited on finishing the ‘’Space Your Fears’’ challenge.  Accomplishing and completing zip-lining helped me hugely overcome my ‘’heights’’ fear, while realising that this fear would need to be tested and build self-belief in overcoming. I decided the next stage for me was abseiling and rope training. This together I knew would better prepare me for the future planned climbs at the time. Mount Everest was of course one of those climbs and the demands mentally and physically required were beyond anything I had ever previously experienced and bar research and the help from close climber friends I may not have been able to visualise what was to be encountered.  Thus I needed to prepare beyond mental and physical levels I had previously.

Big mountains expose climbers to unnerving foot-holds, ledges which overhang and descend beneath you. One mistake is not tolerated. Below is the 2nd Step on Mount Everest with a mere 28,000 feet below me ! … This is where my mental and physical preparation helped me to emotionally and complete this stage to the summit. And this had to be done ‘again’, on decent !
Little did I know there was so much more to encounter to the summit but I remained calm, stayed in the moment and enjoyed the experience which the summit and return to safety all so much worthwhile.

So finally, while preparing for anything I always try and visualise the goal and work backwards to what’s required to start and complete such in small steps to the ultimate success. And in this case for me was summiting Mount Everest. We all have our aims, ambitions, focus and determinations to succeed and I truly believe preparation, hard work, confidence, belief in yourself and you will succeed. Of many of my belief’s I’ll leave you with two of  my favourites …

Derek Mahon - Take Care and Keep Your Dreams Alive!

#1 Blog – The Wait is Over! – Nov 27th

Good Monday morning to you.

The last few weeks have been anxious and tense. I’ve been busy training and preparing for my next climb which was originally schedule for December, then January and possibly February. I was conscious with these plans up in the air, not to over train. But knowing from other climbing buddies of mine, January is the best time to climb Aconcagua. With that opinion and advice in mind I stepped up my training a month ago to two sessions daily with either a rest day on Sunday or Monday.

Mondays are always good and always reminds me of the Boomtown Rats #1 single ‘’Tell me Why I don’t like Mondays’’ … I love Monday’s and always have, but it’s sometimes a relief not to have to get up and pound the roadways, speed on the bike stand, push weights, count those press-ups I do on my basketball, and push myself beyond that 3rd minute plank ! But all so worth it as my fitness levels push higher and higher (pardon the pun) and resting heart rate edges lower. Last reading was 42 BPM with the General Average by age 61-77 BPM !

But the wait is over. Aconcagua is on for a January 21st start ! All 6,962 meters of it !! Whoppiiieee !!

Aconcagua, standing at 6,962 meters is the second highest mountain after Mount Everest in the 7Summits series, as below. It has like all of these ‘’big’’ mountains risks, demands, altitude, weather unpredictability, deaths and success. So this is another big big challenge and one to be properly respected and prepared for as I meticulously do for all my mountain challenges.

Having summit Mount Everest in May 2014 I know what the demands are, the sacrifices to be made, the calculated risks to be taken, the mental strength to keeping focused, determined and strong but of course the realty that ‘’the summit is optional and returning home safe and alive is mandatory’’

Over the coming weeks to my departure for Aconcagua I will share with you my previous climbs and photos and video of such, my training program, and some insights, views, disciplines and life rules that drives me.

Till then, take care, stay safe and keep your dreams alive !

Derek Mahon - Take Care and Keep Your Dreams Alive!

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