Co Down mountaineer Noel Hanna answers 20 questions on health and fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Global adventurer and mountaineer Noel Hanna from Dromara who has summited Everest nine times

Noel Hanna is a mountaineer, endurance athlete and adventurer from Dromara, Co Down
Noel Hanna is a mountaineer, endurance athlete and adventurer from Dromara, Co Down Noel Hanna is a mountaineer, endurance athlete and adventurer from Dromara, Co Down
Co Down mountaineer Noel Hanna answers 20 questions on health and fitness
Co Down mountaineer Noel Hanna answers 20 questions on health and fitness

Noel Hanna's tipple of choice is wine, mojito, Champagne 'or a nice glass of Hinch whiskey'


Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

I’ll have a strong cup of coffee to start the day and after walking the dog, my wife, Lynne, and I will go for a fast walk of around 8-10km.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

Breakfast will be two slices of toast.


A scone with butter, jam and cream, washed down with a large coffee.

Evening meal?

My main meal of the day will be a large steak served on rocket leaves with two fried eggs. Throughout the day, I might have a few cups of coffee along with a couple biscuits.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

Being a mountaineer, endurance athlete and adventurer, I can’t work from home as my job involves taking people to the hills. When at home, though, I am always trying to plan new adventures and I love looking at all the different possibilities for unusual places to travel to or take people to.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

That would be a stir fry with either lots of chicken or beef chopped up through it.


Weekend treat?

Our weekend treat is a bottle of Champagne and we normally would have a braai with large T-bone steaks.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

Long, fast walks in the morning or stepping for an hour has kept me physically fit, while focusing on my next adventures has kept me mentally fit during this time. I think things could be a lot more difficult than they are and I am very grateful for my personal situation. I like having just Lynne and Buddha – my dog – in the house.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

I have a small gym in my garage which I use and it is nice to go for a run or a cycle on the stationary bike indoors.


How do you relax?

Relaxing, for me, is sitting in the sun with a cold glass of white wine and looking at all the birds that come down into the garden for seeds and water.


Teetotal or tipple?

A tipple – wine, mojito or Champagne – or a nice glass of Hinch whiskey.


What book are you currently reading?

I am currently reading a copy of an autobiography of a good Italian climbing friend before it goes to print. Generally, though, I am not really a book reader – I prefer magazines or newspapers.


Best Netflix?

I don’t watch Netflix; I really only watch sport or the world news on TV.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

How easy it is to relax when you can’t go anywhere and you have good company at home – in my case, Lynne and Buddha.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

I was between two and three in relation to cabin fever during the first lockdown and I’m probably the same now. I actually really enjoyed lockdown, as life was just brought down to a slower pace. There was no rushing about to get to the gym as I had to train at home each day.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

I missed just going out and having a coffee and reading the papers and I missed international travel and general freedom of movement. At first, on highest level of lockdown, you were not even allowed to [drive somewhere to] take your dog for a walk which I think was really stupid.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

That’s easy – I will travel more again and just keep living life to the full. The years definitely do seem to pass by faster as you get older.


Biggest gripe?

Why you can’t pay for a Covid vaccination and just get it. As I travel a lot, I would have liked to have the option of paying and being able to travel safely.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Nothing has really changed for me; you really don’t need a lot of things to be happy if you’re in the right company.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Unfortunately no new skills but I’m taking a lot more long, fast walks. I’ve also been trying to learn a little Spanish and French for travelling.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

I would like for people to keep washing their hands and covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough. Also, during lockdown a lot of families started to exercise more which is very good for the body and mind, so everybody should keep on doing that. Walking or running doesn’t cost a lot of money, so there are no excuses. Anyone can afford to walk or run.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

My attitude is still the same: I have always believed that when you are born, there is a nick in the calendar and another nick when it’s your time to go. In the time in between, you should just live life to the full because you don’t know where that second nick is and no-one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Anyone looking for advice on getting into climbing or who wants to seek out new adventurous expeditions, can contact Noel at