Aiming high

a Mont Blanc adventure

At WITRON, people don't just want to aim high in their jobs: Our colleague Youri Prapeau, OnSite Manager at Intermarché Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, set off on an adventure to Mont Blanc end of June. If you’re interested in how long it took him to reach the summit, if he was close to giving up, and if he would do all that again, then check out the following interview:

Editorial team (ET): Hi Youri, we’re excited to hear about your trip! When did you climb the Mont Blanc?

Youri Prapeau (YP): I started the ascent up Mont Blanc on Saturday, June 24, and arrived at the summit the next day, on Sunday, June 25.  

ET: What motivated you to do this?

YP: In our region, Mont Blanc, which is the highest mountain (precisely 4,808 m) in Western Europe, is clearly visible in all its splendor and beauty. For several years now, I've been admiring it and curious to see what the world looks like from the top of this great mountain. That curiosity turned into a dream, which I recently managed to realize.


ET: Were you in a group, how many people were you? Did you have a guide?

YP: I did it with a very good old friend of mine, with whom I share this passion. We took a guide from the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix who trained us and helped us avoid the dangers encountered during the expedition.

ET: How long did it take you to get to the summit?

YP: It took two days to ascend the mountain and one day to descend back to Chamonix. We could have gone faster, but that would have put our health at risk, and would have end our entire adventure. The human body needs to adapt and acclimatize to the altitude, as in these conditions our lungs lose about 30% of their capacity. Therefore, you need a good physical preparation.

ET: How exhausting was it on a scale from 1 to 10? (1 = easy-peasy, 10 = I thought I would die)

YP: Hard to say - I've taken a lot of exams in my life, and I knew in advance that this would be the hardest one, both physically and mentally. Indeed, it was even harder than I imagined. As we were approaching the summit, and the ascent was getting harder and harder, the guide told us that it’s the moment where we could not rely on our bodies anymore, which are exhausted, but only on our minds. Only a strong mindset helped us surpass ourselves and continue the ascent. 

ET: Did you think about giving up?

YP: Not even for a second. Even during the hardest moments, giving up has never crossed my mind. First of all, because the desire to make my dream come true was too high. It overcomes any exhaustion, fear, and suffering. Secondly, once you decide to start this adventure, you become a block with your fellow team members. If one person quits, the whole team has to quit. For me, this was simply inconceivable.

ET: What was it like when you reached the summit? What were the thoughts going through your mind?

YP: I felt happy. It’s such a great and unique feeling when you are out there, gazing at the magnificent landscape, which is truly exceptional at such an altitude. Once on the top, I also felt accomplished. You know, when you get this feeling of satisfaction, because you have succeeded to surpass yourself.


ET: What is important when preparing for such an adventure? Do you need a special training beforehand, or similar, to have the physical condition?

YP: We have been preparing for this adventure for months. It meant gathering the necessary equipment, booking accommodations and mountain huts, taking out the necessary insurances, but above all, a lot of training and preparing ourselves physically. In the months leading up to the ascent, we have climbed a dozen of peaks between 2,000 and 3,500 meters of altitude.

ET: So, was this your first time?

YP: Yes, it was my very first ascent up Mont Blanc.

ET: Would you recommend doing this?

YP: I’m not sure. Just wanting to do it isn't enough. You have to wish for it a lot, and at the same time to be prepared to take some risks...

ET: Would you do it again?

YP: Yes, I would love to do it again. I am even thinking about trying other mountain peaks, like for example Kilimanjaro.  

ET: Anything else that you would like to tell us about this trip?

YP: This adventure has proven that the saying "The harder you train, the easier you fight” holds true. Solid organization, tenacity, and teamwork can move (in my case, climbing) mountains. And that goes for both, our private and professional lives.


ET: Thank you so much, Youri, for answering all our curious questions, and our greatest respect for this sporting achievement! Should you also ascend up Kilimanjaro, we hope you will share this with us, too!