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Adventure Guy

Calgary’s Laval St. Germain, wrapped up his Antarctica expedition by reaching the top of Mount Vinson

Last month, on New Year’s Eve, Calgary’s Laval St. Germain, wrapped up his Antarctica expedition by reaching the top of Mount Vinson (4,892 metres). In so doing, the successful completed his “Seventh Summit,” an accolade earned by an elite group of climbers who have managed to successfully summit the tallest peak on every continent. Along the way he raised thousands of dollars for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Get Out There caught up with St. Germain to find out more about his incredible feat.
 
Congrats on your achievement. How did it feel to finally finish the Seven Summits Quest in Antarctica.
It’s a bit bittersweet, in that this was a two-part expedition: a solo full-distance unsupported ski to the South Pole, followed by summiting Mount Vinson. The South Pole expedition was scuttled after only having 200 km of the 1160 km trip completed due a warped pulk (sled).
 
What has been the most challenging part of this experience?
First, missing my wife and kids of course, and second, dealing with the failure of the South Pole part of the trip. Having said that, if you play in this arena you will have failures, it’s inevitable and sometimes dangerous. I need to not dwell on it and keep moving forward, but with the lessons learned close at hand.
 
What are you hoping people take from following along on your adventure?
First, I want regular people, which is exactly who I am, to realize that these kinds of big goals and big challenges are achievable by the vast majority of people. That said, you need to doggedly pursue and have a laser-sharp focus on the outcome.

Second, you can only pull off these kinds of trips and goals by living a healthy lifestyle, hard work at the gym, being on the trails or on the bike – being active. Further, you have to doggedly prepare in order to doggedly pursue your goals. Your goals might not include high summits or ocean rows, but whatever goal you choose, you need to put the work in. Just hoping won’t get you there – work hard, and you’ll get there.
 
When and why did you decide to do the Seven Summits Quest?
In my early 20s I started climbing high mountains, and suddenly I had the highest in South America, Africa and North America done. I realized that one of my mentors, Pat Morrow, had done all seven, and I thought, I can do this. So, while starting a family, managing my flying career and completing other adventures, I kept the Seven Summits in my sights.
 
What did you enjoy most about the experience?
The wild landscapes, the people you meet, the lifelong friendships built sometimes in extremis and of course the physical challenge...I love suffering outdoors.
 
What summit was the most difficult and why?
Physically, Mount Everest, but only because I did not use oxygen. I was truly pushing my limits, plus I was dealing with three frozen fingers that I later had amputated at the last knuckles. All of these continental high points are technically uncomplicated.
 
What inspired you to make adventure such an important part of your life?
My parents always exposed us to the outdoors and reading. Growing up on a steady diet of National Geographic, Tarzan, Hemingway, Jack London and Farley Mowat will do that to a person.
 
 What's next for you?
I’m dreaming of deserts, oceans, mountains and ice. More importantly, I still have more funds to raise for the Alberta Cancer Foundation...stay tuned.

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