While most of us were indulging in Easter eggs and hot cross buns, Australian Scott Doolan was scaling Everest on his hands. Last week, the absolutely jacked athlete became the first paraplegic to climb the 65km to Everest base-camp with minimal assistance.
The rugged terrain, high altitude, and sheer volume of the trek usually takes around 12 days by foot. Doolan did it in 10. On his hands...
Doolan lost the use of his legs when he was just 19 in a motorcycle accident, and immediately turned to fitness as a way to deal with the mental health battles that followed. “I found fitness and that got me through hard times,” says Doolan, explaining why he is such a huge advocate of fitness for positive mental health.
Doolan has been an incredible athlete long before his everest adventure, dedicating his life to fitness and promoting discussion around mental health. “I want to motivate people to take the first step out of their comfort zone,” says Doolan. When you hear Doolan speak on his passions, it becomes immediate clear that his strength of character is just as large as his physical conditioning. His inspirational achievements, and work with children in overcoming adversity, have also seen him become the worthy face of many performance brands including Apexgen apparel and BeforeYouSpeak Coffee.
The idea for this Everest trek came about from close mate, Apexgen founder, and fellow athletic weapon Matt Laycock, who called him up for a coffee, putting Doolan on the spot with the suggestion. “He stitched me up,” laughed Doolan. However Laycock was a key player in the mission, training with Doolan and using proceeds from his business to fund the trip.
Following that fateful coffee, Doolan spent 10 months preparing for the trek up Everest, climbing local mountains, training in altitude chambers, and doing anything he could to replicate the expected conditions in the Himalayas.
Doolan describes his training as “kind of CrossFit to be honest”, with a lot of focus on functional movements that would provide the physical and mental endurance for the trek. Battle rope workouts formed a large part of their preparation according to Doolan, with more specific hikes in the Blue Mountains starting about 14 weeks out from the trip.
However it seems as though nothing could have fully prepared Doolan for the eventual trek. “I didn’t expect it to be that bad.”
The challenges came thick and fast when Doolan and Laycock hit Nepal. With his face down near the dirt and rocks, he was inhaling dust constantly from the outset. Rough sections of terrain meant that Doolan's chair was essentially useless, meaning he had to 'wheelbarrow' for the most part. The conditions left Doolan with the flu on the second day, which developed into a chest infection by day four.
“I was coughing up blood and green junk,” explained Doolan, still in good spirits recalling the hardship.
By day six, the team had reached an altitude of 4000m, bringing on severe migraines. Still not enough to derail their mission, the disasters continued, with Doolan’s chair giving way and breaking on day seven. Scott had to continue, chairless, over boulders and glaciers for the remaining two days.
In the 10 days, Doolan went through 6 pairs of heavy-duty work-wear gloves, scaled 18,192ft of the worlds toughest terrain, and absolutely smashed any doubts that he's one of the country's top athletes.
Doolan doesn’t have long to rest following this latest triumph, with his sights firmly set on some serious goals in the next two years. Before competing for Paralympic gold in the pool at Tokyo 2020, Doolan wants to summit Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Heck, if any man is up for the task, it seems that man is Doolan.
“Your mind is your only limit. If you believe you can do something, you can. When you go through this physically, it becomes clear,” says Doolan.