Mont Blanc ascent against choroideremia

TYVA Energie supports the project of two students of the ISARA-Lyon school in their ascent of Mont-Blanc to help with the funding of research agaisnt choroideremia disease. We asked them to tell us more about their project and motivations, here is the interview with all of their answers. 

The whole TYVA Energie’s team whishes you good luck for your ascent!

Why are you doing this ascent?

We are Aurélie et Léa, two students of ISARA-Lyon which is an agronomy, environment and nourishment engineering school. As part of our 3rd grade, we must achieve an action plan with strong and empowering personal commitment encouraging us to leave our comfort zone.

Since we are both passionate by montain, we have chosen to do the ascent of Mont Blanc with one goal: help with the funding of research against choroideremia disease by raising funds on our Alvarum online pot.

Who is coming with you?

Arthur, living with choroideremia, is also going to do the ascent with us. Since he was born he is slowly losing is eyesight because of this genetic disorder. To associate him to our project gives him the opportunity to do the Mont Blanc ascent, maybe that’s a chance he wouln’t have experienced otherwise.

There will be two Chamonix high-altitude mountain guides who will come with us: the first one will exclusively look after Arthur’s safety to reduce risks at most while the second one will look after the both of us.

On next June 13th, we will be a small group of five people to take the plunge and do the ascent of Europe’s top.

Did you know Arthur before this project?

(Léa) Arthur and I have known each other forever because our parents are very good friends. Arthur is very athletic: hiking, running, fitness, marathon, etc. He is always cheerful to take part to new adventures. He quickly came to my mind when we were searching for someone with a disability to be part of our project.

Aurélie have officially met Arthur last February and they immediately got along with each other. Before then, we’ve all talked together through phonecalls and social medias.

Ascension Mont Blanc TYVA Energie

Why did you chose choroideremia?

We absolutely wanted to associate our project to an association. Since Léa and Arthur have known each other for a very long time, France Choroïdérémie has been an obvious choice for us.

What is your goal?

As I said it before, our goal is to achieve the Mont Blanc ascent with Arthur and to raise funds to help with the funding of research about this disease. People don’t know that much about this not commonly known disorder, so we thought our project could help the association get a wider media coverage and thus expand.

Why have you chose Mont Blanc?

At the very beginning of the project prepatation, we talked about Mont Blanc but it wasn’t our first choice. We have thought about less known but more technical races. Some people explained to us that path leading to Mont Blanc were used a lot as if it was a highway with many rules, which could make the ascent unpleasant.

Finally, we quickly chose the Mont Blanc option when thinking about a communication strategy: the goal was to raise money for the funding of research about choroideremia so Mont Blanc appeared to be the most appropriate summit thanks to its notoriety. When we say Mont Blanc, people we discuss with are immediately impressed, whether they are friends, close relatives or companies.

This is also a not very technical summit compared to others, but it is a long one. Ultimately it is an asset concerning Arthur’s eyesight which is considerably reduced.

Do you have a plan B in case of bad weather or conditions stopping your ascent?

Before the sanitary crisis, we had a plan B in case of bad weather, we were supposed to go in Italy where there is a good weather even if Mont Blanc is covered. Unfortunately, Italy’s shelters open later than in France and most of borders are still closed.

Our plan B fell appart but we are still trying to find another date (which is difficult since the three of us are very busy) or do day hikes on June 13th weekend.

Did you question your project because of current events?

Of course the current sanitary crisis forced us to reconsider various aspects of our project, especially since the ascent date was getting closer: there were only 3 months left when containment measures were established, we booked our places for the shelter right after that.

We never despaired even if we had more and more doubts concerning a happy ending for this adventure. Now we are just one week away from the date and nothing is certain, guides can work again but the shelters will open on June 13th only if social distancing measures are established. 

Everyday we wait for new from our guide, which is very stressful. Arthur told us a few days ago “It is worst than waiting for a movie premiere or the release of a new series”. 

This is kind of significant concerning our current emotions, namely a lot of excitation and a tiny bit of stress increasing day after day!

Aurélie et Léa
Students at ISARA Lyon

How did the trainings go?

Sanitary crisis made our physical training difficult. Indeed we couldn’t train together as planned and containment measures inhibited us to get an optimal acclimatization to altitude. However, we contacted each other regularly to motivate and to train by our own, we even did several activities before containment measures were established (cross-country skiing, climbing, run&bike, etc.).

We really wished to give Arthur the opportunity to try on mountaineering equipment (spikes, harness, ice axe, etc.) before the ascent but the current crisis as well as our conflicting schedules weren’t in our favour. However the 3 of us plan to do a simulation with the whole equipment on the eve of the ascent.

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