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Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Joshi tackles Mt Everest

Thursday 27 September 2018

Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Joshi tackles Mt Everest

After 10 years working as an Orthopaedic Surgeon at Mater Private Hospital Redland, Dr Sanjay Joshi is used to telling patients to undertake physical activity for better health and faster recovery—advice he put into practice himself when he recently climbed to Everest Base Camp with 12 friends, also doctors, from around the world.

The group—comprising doctors from Dubai, Canada, the UK, America and Australia—completed the climb in 12 days, reaching Kala Patthar at 5500 metres above sea level.

“The last day of the climb was from Gorakshep to Kala Patther. The temperature was between minus 15 and minus 20 degrees Celsius and there was thick snow everywhere,” Dr Joshi said.

“We commenced the climb at 3.30 am on a very steep mountain to reach the top at around 5.30 am, so that we could see the sunrise against the Mount Everest summit. This was the slowest and most difficult part of the climb. But the joy when we made it to the top and could see the sun’s rays behind Mount Everest like flames made it all worth it.”

Dr Joshi decided to tackle the climb as a personal fitness challenge and to experience something different to ‘routine work’.

“I was unfit prior to the trip and I took it upon myself as a challenge to become fit again with a focus. I’ve never completed a climb like it before, so it was something very different,” he said.

“I trained intensely for two months prior to the trip. Every day, I spent two hours in an altitude gym at Wellington Point to practice cardio training. The altitude gym has a chamber that brings oxygen saturation down to 11 per cent, which mimics training at around 5500 metres altitude.

“In addition, on weekends I climbed Mount Cootha several times. I also climbed Mount Warning (1200 metres) twice in a day, 10 days prior to my departure.”

Despite training, Dr Joshi and the group were still stretched to their limits with the physical challenges of the climb.

“We faced cold weather, wind and thin air. At that height in the Himalayas, there’s no vegetation to hold the dust, so thin dust constantly hits the face. After a few days I had a cold and a runny nose. I could not digest food, had diarrhoea and a constant headache, and felt exhausted.

“On the descent, my knee was very sore because I had a torn cartilage in my left knee from my training prior to the trip. To overcome this pain, I injected Marcaine so that I could descend the mountain.”

Despite the physical challenges, Dr Joshi enjoyed the trip, gained much from it and is considering completing a similar trek in the future.

“Like Sir Edmund Hillary said, ‘it is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves'. The trip gave me more confidence in myself,” he said.

“I lost 10 kilograms in 10 weeks of training.  It’s a great way to get fit if you’re focused. It has given me confidence to do another such venture in future.

 “It was an amazing thing to experience the stillness of mountains, which have been sitting there for millions of years. It truly was the trek of a lifetime.”

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