This post is also available in: German
At uvex, we are all striving towards our common goal of protecting people, whether in their free time or at work. Real people are behind every pair of safety spectacles, every pair of safety footwear and every pair of earplugs. These are people who have worked with commitment and passion day in, day out, to make uvex what it is today – and that has been the case for more than 90 years now.
The key to our success is firmly in the hands of our employees – and we intend to put them in the limelight in a series of blogs: “Business is people”
Rolf Eberhard (55) is the first to feature in our series. In his capacity as Key Account Manager in the Business Development department, he is responsible for the strategic development of new business. Yet there is one thing which makes him stand out in the professional world: his dream of making it to the top extends beyond his career to the highest mountains in the world.
So where did Rolf’s enthusiasm for mountains begin? “When I was young, I often went with my family to the mountains in Austria” is his answer. At university, he completed his first climbing courses, acquiring the necessary knowledge for the hikes which would soon follow. Initially, he took classic routes up mountains with peaks of over 3,000m and even 4,000m, including the Grossglockner, Ortler, Mont Blanc and others in the vicinity. But it didn’t take long for the destinations to become more international and far, far higher: he climbed to the top of Mount McKinley in Alaska (6,190m) in 1992 and of Ama Dablam in Nepal (6,812m) in 1995. The great highlight of his adventures so far was when he climbed Mount Everest in 2010. The months of preparation consisted of intense physical training, as well as a lot of organisation. Rolf underlines the importance of networking for a successful expedition: “Without contacts on the ground, you have no chance” – this is also a talent of his which helps him in his working life.
“Perseverance, determination and motivation.” Rolf thinks these are the most important character traits, and not just for mountaineering, but also in the world of work (the parallels are obvious). Constantly working towards establishing the uvex brand in new settings requires commitment and a great deal of patience. And what is on the cards for 2016? “First of all, to keep up the intensive and consistent work on existing projects.” This also calls on his organisational skills: internally, there are important decisions to be made which require extensive coordination.
Rolf’s next mountaineering project may well be “a big venture in the Western Alps”, but nothing is set in stone yet. Wherever the wind may take him, support from his employers – he had to save up a whole year’s worth of annual leave and bank holidays for his Everest expedition – is almost as important as that of his family. As far as the Eberhards are concerned, they sway between “Do you have to?” and “Wow, great!”, but ultimately the family rally behind the adventurous Rolf, not begrudging his expeditions. Just like them, we wish him every success: onwards and upwards!
Our thanks to Rolf Eberhard for this fascinating insight into the world of mountaineering. We will continue this series in the near future with more, equally captivating stories. Read on to discover more about climbing the world’s highest mountain, as Rolf shares his diary entries from that impressive journey.
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- April 2010: flight from Munich to Kathmandu
“I am waiting for my equipment and all the necessary authorisations. I will be taking the route on the north side of the mountain, as it is more demanding in mountaineering terms and less busy. It will also allow me to avoid the Khumbu Icefall on the south approach, the Hillary Step and the crowds of people on the south side.”
- Onward journey in a 4×4
“Stop in Zhangmu (2,350m), cross the Chinese border. Travel through the Tibetan highlands as far as Chinese Base Camp (5,170m)”
- 14 days later: Chinese Base Camp (5,170m)
“A 21km hike brings me and my sherpa to the advanced base camp at an altitude of 6,400m. I always carry my own climbing gear, sleeping bag and mat, food, drink, changes of clothes etc. with me in my rucksack, which weighs around 15kg. On arrival, we unpack our stuff and put up the tent, sleep, then descend the next day. We do this repeatedly, as the ascents stimulate the body into generating more red blood cells, while the descents offer much-needed recovery periods.”
- Transport to the next camp up
“We continue to move our equipment up from camp to camp, until we reach camp three at an altitude of 8,300m.”
- 23 May: the eve of the summit attempt
“It is cold. A snowstorm sweeps over our camp. I collect snow and melt it to make myself a cup of tea. I take a moment to relax and concentrate on the challenge ahead, hydrating myself and staying as warm as possible.”
- 24 May, 1.20am
“Night time. Snowstorm. We set off. It is brutal. My Sherpa leads the way. In the driving snow and dark I would not manage to find the way myself. For the first time, I have doubts. Day breaks. There is a difficult climb to come: the Three Steps. Ahead of us, a Japanese climber is stuck, but fortunately he and his team allow us to pass. At an altitude of 8,800m the storm suddenly passes and we have a clear view of the summit.”
- 00am: at the summit
“I call my wife and celebrate together with my Sherpa. However, in my mind, I’m already on the way back down and worried about what became of the Japanese climber we passed on the way.”
- 24 hours later
“The only way is down. Every minute we delay our descent increases the chance of frostbite or altitude sickness. After 24 hours we reach camp two. It is a wonderful feeling to lay down and relax.”
- Arrival at Chinese Base Camp
“As the relief washes over me, fatigue and exhaustion set in. While I feel happy and proud of my achievement, upsetting news has reached us that some Spanish mountaineers I met previously are fighting for survival on the mountain. It is a stark reminder of how treacherous the mountains can be if you bite off more than you can chew.”