This summer, Richard Jarvis, CTO of EMIS, is climbing Mont Blanc to raise awareness and funds for PANS PANDAS UK. You can hear from Richard here. As EMIS is a client and friend, Richard offered one Amdarian the opportunity to join him and make this an EMIS/Amdaris ascent.
In January, our co-CEO Andy put out the call for a budding mountaineer to rise to this challenge. Senior QA Engineer and climbing enthusiast Oleg Gavriliuc responded at once. Now with less than two months to go, we catch up with Oleg about how he’s imagining the impossible and preparing for this adventure.
How did you get involved with this challenge?
It was Tuesday the 4th of January when Andy messaged everyone in the Amdaris group asking if they wanted to put themselves forwards for this amazing opportunity. I saw immediately that this was a challenge for me and replied in seconds. I was already training to climb Mount Elbrus (5,642 m) so I am in good physical condition. Andy accepted me as the best candidate, which I really appreciate. I will do my best to reach the summit and represent Amdaris!
Can you tell us a bit about what climbing Mont Blanc means to you?
Mont Blanc (4,807 m) is the highest summit in Western Europe and is extremely symbolic. The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on August 8th 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard. This climb, initiated by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, is considered by many to be the start of modern mountaineering worldwide. For this reason, climbing Mont Blanc is a big honour.
What attracts you to mountaineering?
I’ve always liked sport and always been interested in absolutely everything! What I like about mountaineering is that it’s not just only discipline, like running for example. Instead, it involves lots of disciplines and is more complicated than most people realise. You need to know a lot and there’s so much room to grow and develop – as well as so many mountains all over the world to climb! You can combine mountaineering with travel, meeting new people, eating different foods etc. I also really like the fact that you can do it at any age throughout your life.
How are you preparing for Mont Blanc?
There are many elements to my preparation. Firstly, I’ve been gathering information from recent climbs regarding weather conditions, locations of refuges etc. I’ve also been acquiring the clothing and equipment I need. As well as physical training and mastering climbing and mountaineering techniques, I need to master techniques such as getting dressed and undressed in 5-10 minutes. This may sound silly but you have fewer daylight hours on the mountain due to specific topography. It becomes very dangerous if you have to climb in the dark so every minute counts.
What physical training are you doing?
To prepare for the altitude, I’m hiking and sleeping at elevation when I can. The closest mountains to where I live in Moldova are the Carpathian Mountains (2,655 m) in Romania and Ukraine. I’m doing a couple of trips to these mountains and ascending to 2000+ m where I’ll stay, sleep and do some activities so that my body is more prepared and adapted to the highest altitudes which will help me to feel comfortable during the Mont Blanc climb.
What is affected most by climbing and hiking isn’t your muscles or bones, but your heart, so this is what I need to train most. One of the easiest ways to do this is running. When you’re running, you’re training your heart to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen to your muscles in more difficult conditions. I also do CrossFit, which involves a set of simple exercises like running, pull-ups, push-ups etc. When you quickly switch between these activities it’s great training for your heart. All the exercises I do are with bodyweight only. You don’t need a gym or special equipment, you just need yourself and motivation.
What motivates you?
I want to feel great and be in good health all my life, which is why I train hard. I like the process itself, but I also like the goal. I like amazing views and from the altitude of Mont Blanc, I am sure the scenery will be absolutely stunning if we have the right weather. Sometimes everything is hidden by fog but hopefully, we will get lucky and get blue sky so we can admire the beautiful mountains and natural surroundings.
What are you nervous about?
I think people get afraid when they don’t know enough information about what they’re doing. For example, lots of people are afraid of flying in a plane because they don’t understand how it works. But if they were to understand the laws of thermodynamics and all the safety rules and inspections that go on, they wouldn’t be so afraid because they would understand the process.
In this way, I think preparation alleviates nerves and fear. In mountaineering, you have to be prepared for anything and everything and always have a plan A, B, C and D. Things can go wrong on any climb, whether it’s on a big mountain or a small one. You have to take responsibility for your own life and do all the training and preparation you need to, as well as trust the group you are climbing with. I feel confident because I have put the time and work in.
What are you most excited about?
Visiting Chamonix is very exciting for me because of its rich mountaineering and climbing history. I am also really excited to be representing a fantastic company that I trust and people I trust and like to work and have a good time with. I hope to make the summit on behalf of Amdaris and feel hugely honoured to have been selected by Andy. Any ascent doesn’t guarantee 100% success, but I hope that, even if we don’t make the first attempt, we will have another try and get there to wave the Amdaris and EMIS flags at the top as well as raise funds and awareness for Richard Jarvis’ chosen charity PANS PANDAS UK.
Oleg, Richard and their group will be ascending Mont Blanc between June 17th – 24th. We’ll be sharing photo and video updates from Oleg during his adventure so do keep an eye out for these. If you’d like to make a donation to Richard’s JustGiving page, you can do so here.
A note on the charity PANS PANDAS UK
PANS and PANDAS are conditions causing inflammation in the brain resulting in neuropsychiatric symptoms such as OCD, tics, eating disorders and anxiety along with many more.
More commonly affecting children, these conditions can be isolating and life-changing. PANS PANDAS UK’s mission is to ensure speedy diagnosis and effective treatment for sufferers by educating the medical community as well as offering support to sufferers and their families.
For more information please see their website www.panspandasuk.org