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The mountaineering IT leader

Jack Loo | Aug. 2, 2013
Marcelo De Santis of Mondelez is scaling Mount Everest in support of UNICEF.

I believe adventure sports give me the opportunity to develop and balance myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Be it after 11 hours in an Ironman competition, or climbing at 7000 metres with thin air, physical strength is no longer the main source of energy. It is your mind and your connection with others around you that provide you the final boost to your goal.

The expedition to Mount Everest will start at the end of March 2014 and finish by early June. It takes a long time to get your body acclimatised to the thin air and prepare the logistics to ensure a safe ascent to the summit.

It is a long journey requiring a significant amount of physical, mental and spiritual strength to handle all the unplanned circumstances that this mountain can dish out to climbers.

3) How are you training for your Everest climb?

First, you need to spend a few years climbing, learning alpine climbing techniques and climbing a few peaks to negotiate different terrains with different exposures, understand how to work as part of a climbing team, get well educated in rescue techniques and overall, become comfortable living in harsh conditions.

It is almost mandatory that you test how your body will perform at 7000-8000 metres. This is achieved attempting a peak of those characteristics, but you do not want to learn that on Everest. This training along will take three to four years to complete.

Once you have this foundation in place, you are ready to start preparing for your Everest climb. It starts with a visit to a doctor to make sure that you are medically fit to climb. I train almost every day mixing strength, endurance and cardio routines with a personal trainer in Singapore.

The challenge of living in Singapore is that the only elevated ground closest to a mountain is Bukit Timah Hill. But it is good enough if you ascend and descend multiple times, with a heavy backpack in order to simulate a mountain climb. Your core, legs and lungs will get stronger. Your nutrition is also an important factor and I get help from a nutritionist to build up my muscles for climbing. Later in September, I plan to meet my Everest guide, and visit the mountains to do some technical specific training in exposed and icy terrain.

4) What are the challenges that mountain climbers can face?

In an expedition to the Manaslu peak in the Himalayas, we were almost killed by an avalanche. We were travelling between Camp 2 and Camp 3 and resting for the day, when the avalanche wiped out the two camps within minutes. It was a very challenging moment for the team in having to deal with such an unpredictable situation. We finally managed to help those affected and descended safely to the base camp after a long physically and emotionally exhausting day. Sadly we lost climbing colleagues during that episode. 


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