Jillian and Ross Dempsey took their trekking holidays seriously. They would exchange office clothes (smart casual for Jill, pinstripe for Ross) for state-of-the- art climate controlled, thermal body suits; Swiss mountaineering fleeces; NASA ultra-thin, stormproof shells with reversible approach pants and high altitude trek boots. They would pack ultra-light rucksacks, with micro-fibre sleeping bags and mountain bivouac, hydration sachets and self-heating meals-in-bags, GPS system and back-up, water filters and medical kit. Their titanium foraging knives could also be used for field surgery. Their mini-torches bounced halogen brightness off the heavens.
They would leave their Blackberries at home. When they went on holiday they planned to go off the map and stay there. Their only contact with work colleagues, loved ones and the rest of the world would be the emergency beacon built into their GPS system, which they were at great pains to tell everyone they would make damn sure they never needed to call upon.
Jillian and Ross would tell you they were only really at home in the high peaks, from Nepal to the Andes. Only those challenging tracks and breathtaking views could counterbalance the toxic complexities of their demanding careers.
“We feel kinda clean up there,” Ross would give his boyish grin, while Jillian would nod in complete if shy agreement. And then they’d be gone for three weeks.
To a cheap motel room, the seedier the better, somewhere like Vegas, Penang or Nairobi, where they’d stack the kit, slip into something comfortable (boxers for Ross, diaphanous thong for Jill), break open the first case of tequila, the packs of Amyl Nitrate and the intimate appliances. After two weeks, whoever’s cognitive faculties were still functioning would get up and switch on the sun lamp.
It was important to have that high mountain colour when they got back.