We’re delighted that one of our regular customers, Stuart Walsh, has agreed to share his journey to the summit of Mont Blanc in this month’s blog article! Stuart recently completed his first Alpine climb, and we’d like to think that our energy bites played a small part in fuelling his endeavours… Read on for our interview with Stuart!
Q: Was this your first mountain climb?
A: Believe it or not, this was my first trek at Alpine Climbing. I’m a huge goal setter, and I believe we can achieve anything if we put our mind to it, get focused and work hard. The first mountain was the Gran Paradiso at 4,061m, we then went onto Mont Blanc (4,810m).
Q: Why Mont Blanc?
A: When I was doing my research on mountaineering, I was setting my sights too low and playing it safe, and I just thought, let’s go for the highest mountain in Western Europe, why not?! Once I set my mind to it, it was a plan to get the hard work done in the gym.
Q: What sort of training did you do before your climb?
A: I finished an Ultra Marathon in December, so I had worked on a lot of strength and core with my P.T., but when I told him about my new goal, he had to tailor my training, so it was suitable for climbing Mont Blanc. I’m always running and biking, so my cardiovascular work is part of my daily routine.
Q: Did you adopt a special diet before your climb?
A: I wouldn’t say it was special, but I listened to what my body was asking for as the training got more intense, keeping the macronutrients balanced to the type of training I was doing. This is where Frog Hollow helped me out massively with their energy bites, different recipes giving different levels of nutrition.
Q: Who climbed it with you? Did you climb in a guided group?
A: I climbed in a guided group with five other people I’d never met. You always meet like-minded people when you share the same goals, so more often than not, you all get on even though you come from different backgrounds. I met friends for life, I was fortunate; they were a special group.
Q: Did you suffer from altitude sickness?
A: I didn’t suffer from altitude sickness, but the first time I was exposed to 4000m+, I felt it, less oxygen and intense climbing, it was hard!
Q: What was the most difficult thing about climbing Mont Blanc and how did you cope?
A: The most difficult thing about climbing Mont Blanc was the final part of the descent. We were climbing down and running through the Gran Couloir (super dangerous for rockfall) and at this point my legs were feeling it, using different muscles as we climbed down the mountain. But when you know, you’ve got to get down, and if you don’t focus you’re at significant risk, you pull in the energy from somewhere. It’s as much of an amazing feeling getting to the bottom as it is getting to the summit.
Q: What were you most pleasantly surprised by?
A: It has to be when we were at the summit, it takes everything out of you, and when you get to the top, the view is just spectacular. The thing that surprised me the most was the rush of emotion I got, tears starting to roll down my face as a real sense of achievement rushed through my body. At that point, I didn’t care about getting down; I just wanted to enjoy the moment.
Q: How long did it take you to reach the summit?
A: To reach the summit and back was a nine hour round climb, but we were on the mountain for three days as we moved up to camp and acclimatised.
Q: What did you learn about yourself as a result of climbing Mont Blanc?
A: I pushed my body to the limits on this trip; it was the hardest thing I have achieved. But the thing I learnt the most, was that the mind is a wonderful paradox, it uses itself to understand itself, and with this, the body will follow. This makes our limits limitless!
Q: How did you sustain yourself mentally and physically during your climb?
A: With any big goals, you are going to go through mental and physical battles, and I had my fair share on this trip, but it’s important to listen to your body. The biggest thing I found was the amount of fuel you need; you have to be continually eating on your journey. The energy bites from Frog Hollow were perfect for the Mont Blanc climb, compact, packed with nutritional goodness and something I could eat regularly to keep my energy levels up. If your energy levels are depleted, then it’s game over, so it’s essential to have to right fuel for your body!
Q: What would be your #1 piece of advice to anybody else who has a goal to climb Mont Blanc?
A: It would have to be to believe in yourself, a mountain is like any big goal, believe you can do it and get to work. You have to want to achieve it more than do breathing the oxygen in the air, focus, train hard and when it’s show time, just have fun! That’s the most important part, smile and enjoy it.
Q: So what goal do you have set next?
A: I found myself with Alpine Climbing, so I’m just finalising plans to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia (5,642m) in the first half of next year. Then it’s Aconcagua (6,962m) in Argentina later in the year. Two big goals that require more intensive training, so I’ll need my energy bites!
We’d like to wish Stuart the very best with his next challenge and remember our energy bites are perfect after any exercise; you don’t have to be a mountain climber! They are also great for lunch boxes, on-the-go breakfasts, afternoon pick-me-ups, in fact, any time of day or night that you need an energy boost!
Buy yours HERE.