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DLD A Level student Jacob climbing Mont Blanc
Hi, my name is Jacob Nico-Katz; I’m 16 years old and currently studying A-levels. at DLD College London. I would like to welcome you to what is going to be a 6 month journey to prepare myself both physically and mentally for a dream that I have always wanted to pursue, to ascend the 4800 meter wind swept peak off the highest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc. My dream of ascending a high peak came when I saw a documentary about Mount Everest as a child and how people put themselves through all of that physical training and pain just to stand on that summit for a few seconds, surely that must be the best feeling in the world? I was also influenced by my mother who did an expedition in the Arctic Circle a few years ago which really inspired me to follow my own dreams.

I have been climbing regularly for the past year (about once or twice a week) and my family and I regularly do walks in the UK. It was about two months ago on the summit of Ben Nevis (the highest peak in the UK) when I looked over the green valley and I thought, if I can do this, why not push myself harder, why not go the extra mile and achieve something extraordinary? The thought quickly dissipated as I began to climb back down, yet it still lingered in the back of my head. That night we were all sitting in the Glen Nevis youth hostel in the middle of absolutely nowhere, with very little to do, I took to the internet to broaden my horizons and see what other mountains there were to conquer. When I first came across Mont Blanc I thought I was far too ambitious yet through more research it began to grow on me, surely six months would be enough training to reach the right physical condition to make it to the summit? When I returned to London I went climbing with my climbing group and presented the idea to them, they all took to it very quickly. However, after doing deep research about costs, route and training planning, risk of death (such as avalanche, frost bite, rock fall, altitude sickness and others) plus other limiting factors it was whittled down to three of us Alex Lezard, Nik Babourine and myself. We presented the idea to each of our parents and got the go-ahead and so training has started!

Climbing once a week soon boosted up to two and three times a week, three days gym training and one day cycling/hiking. We were lucky enough to have one day of snow this year and we all took advantage of the situation and set out with weighted backpacks to Kenwood house for a hike whilst also doing cardio-based activities such as Hill Sprints (that was a killer). Our climbing sessions became a lot more focused and we really began to feel the major bump up in physical activity take a toll on our bodies. However with our one day of rest per week to recuperate we could maintain a consistent level of exercise to effectively begin to train our body for long days of hard cardiovascular activity. Climbing Mont Blanc isn’t only about cardio, we will each be carrying a backpack which weighs approximately 50 pounds, to aid us with lifting weight for such long periods of time we are dedicating one of our three gym sessions per week on free weight training. The final and the most difficult (and dangerous) aspect of the climb is the altitude. The summit of Mont Blanc is the same altitude at which light aircraft cruise at. After running the calculations the oxygen content is half of what it is down on the ground, which makes the possibility of altitude sickness (which can lead to death) very likely and so we are accommodating an extra three days to climb a smaller peak (Gran Paradiso, 4000 meters) to hopefully acclimatize to reduce the risk of altitude sickness on Mont Blanc.