Never tell Mike Hannan and Heiko Maurer the limitations of having Parkinson's disease — they will try to climb Mount Everest to prove you wrong.
"Most people with Parkinson's think they are incapable of exercise and doing strenuous things and their carers reinforce that," Mr Hannan said.
"Their view is the patients should sit in the corner and knit."
After more than a year of planning, Mr Hannan, Mr Maurer and Mr Hannan's daughter Katie began their trek to Everest Base Camp, 5,380m above sea level, on October 19.
|PHOTO: Mike Hannan reached an altitude of 4,000 metres before he pulled out of the trek.|
We wanted to show that just because you have Parkinson's it doesn't mean that it is an end to useful and productive life," Mr Maurer said.
At 74, Mr Hannan is at an age when most would be winding down.
"We thought it was a loony idea, but let's try it," he said.
"If we could show that we could get there, or partly there, and have a good time, it would show people that they needn't sit at home and be miserable."
The team set out hoping to raise $10,000 for Parkinson's research and the Shake It Up Foundation.
Up and downs of Parkinson's on the trip
Struggling with balance problems, a combination of his Parkinson's disease and the high altitude, Mr Hannan pulled out two days into the seven-day walk after reaching an altitude of 4,000 metres.
Mr Maurer, 61, continued, accompanied by Ms Hannan, 37, and both made it to Base Camp.
"It was the hardest thing I have done in my life," Mr Maurer said.
"There was a sense of accomplishment when I got there, but the reality of Parkinson's also hit home."
The elation of making the trek was balanced with the emotions of him facing his future with the disease.
"This is as good as it is going to get and from here it is downhill," Mr Maurer said.
Reflecting on the trip after returning to Adelaide, he said his pride of achievement had been replaced by the sadness of his situation.
"It's a one-time achievement, but the Parkinson's is with me for the rest of my shortened life."
Putting value on family, real-world experiences
Ms Hannan said accompanying her father and Mr Maurer was challenging beyond expectation.
As Mr Hannan began to reach his limit, she became worried about his welfare.
"I got quite scared and thought potentially he was not going to make it, and we were going to have to put him on a yak or carry him up there," she said.
The complications of his Parkinson's, paired with the low-oxygen environment, made her father's disease more aggressive.
Mike Hannan, Katie Hannan and Heiko Maurer back in Adelaide.
"When you have somebody in your family who you are close to, who is a friend as well, and you see them really struggling [it's really hard]," Ms Hannan said.
The trek provided some unexpected changes for Ms Hannan too.
A normally busy person, she said she had begun to concentrate more on the things she felt were important.
"I've started to say no to a lot of things," she said.
"I deleted the Facebook app on my phone yesterday and am trying to put a lot more value on real-world experiences.
"It's been unbelievable."
Setting new goals
Happily back in Adelaide, Mr Hannan said he would be keen to attempt the trek again.
"I would chose a different route though," he said.
"When you go to Base Camp you concentrate on getting there and getting back and you don't spend much time looking around," he said.
Mr Maurer said he was already eyeing off a trekking trip to New Zealand for his next adventure.