Climbing Mount Elbrus with Jan Grarup
Muscles tested to the maximum, sunburns everywhere, long days, long nights and getting used to the altitude. This is the harsh reality of Jan Grarup and Tom Tramborg, two best friends, who decided to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe.
Jan Grarup is a very renowned Danish photojournalist who is specialised in war and conflict photography. Together with his best friend Tom, they decided to climb Mount Elbrus for charity. Before leaving Denmark, they reached out to SAYSKY for perfomance apparel that would help them with getting to the top! SAYSKY is all about taking new chances and risks, so when these two inspiring guys reached out we couldn't say no to support this amazing adventure for charity.
Read the inspiring interview below the picture.
Interview with Jan Grarup og Tom Tramborg
Could you start with introducing the both of you and how you know each other?
We have known each other for 25 years, but have worked closely for the last three years after we did Jan’s famous "AND THEN THERE WAS SILENCE" book. Jan is recognized as one of the worlds leading war and conflict photographers, winning more than 100 international awards. Tom is a media expert and skilled photo editor and manager who have worked with photographers around the world.
You have just recently climbed Mount Elbrus and Kilimanjaro before that. Please let us in on what started this passion for climbing mountains.
Jan initially did Kilimanjaro last year and after that he was hooked. Climbing mountains is a special passion that grows on you. It is also something that can strengthen or break a friendship – but in our case it has only strengthened it and given more appetite for more mountains. We are looking at climbing Mount Denali next.
Is there any purpose behind climbing Mount Elbrus? And please describe the whole experience of this climb.
We did the climb as a charity. Donating money to Climb for Charity and Børneulykkesfonden. The mountain itself is beautiful. We climbed it from the north side, which is the more difficult passage. We started the climb at midnight in minus 15-20 degrees and finished on the top 12 hours later. Having climbed 1900 vertical meters with crampons. It was a beautiful experience, but extremely physically challenging.
The next goal is Mount Denali, the highest freestanding mountain in North America. What do you expect from this trip? Any challenges compared to Mount Elbrus and/or Kilimanjaro?
Denali is a very different climb. Colder, harder and a much longer trip – and just getting to the mountain is a special experience.
How did you train for these trips? Especially with you Jan, since you are out shooting pictures all the time.
It was very hard to find time to travel as Jan was covering Syria and Rwanda right up to the trip, so training was limited – but a lot of the climbing is really about motivation and willpower.
Will there be any differences in how you have prepared to Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus and soon Mount Denali?
Yes. We need to train a lot more and the actual climb is a bit harder technically, so we will most likely do a training session on a similar type of mountain before the climb of Denali. Also, it will be a smaller group going, which will make it harder in terms of the gear we need to carry.
Are there anything you sacrifice when being away for so long? Especially family/wives, your daily routines and/or safety net? Does it change the way that you approach the climbs?
It is hard, especially when you start the trips. But once you are in to the trip and secluded and without your WI-FI, email etc. you go into a different and more simple work-life-balance and literally just think of conquering the mountain and surviving.
Do you have any advice for the curious adventurist out there who might need the extra push to face the climb? Any things a beginner (or a pro) should take note off?
Motivation and willpower are 90% of it and if you have that you should try it out. Gear, skills etc. is the easy part of it. The feeling of having conquered a mounting is something that beats almost anything else.