nd On just the third day of the new decade, with some of the UK still not recovered from their New Year hangovers, Para-Monte Ambassador and Train Strong personal training founder Matt Shore started his journey to the summit (6962m) of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, for the second time.

Para-Monte The Adam Savory Memorial Fund: Raising Altitude Awareness

This time, Matt was not taking any chances, attacking every potential barrier with extreme caution. This ranged from his many treks in the Brecon Beacons and Mt Snowdon, to renting an altitude tent from The Altitude Centre, to help him familiarize himself with sleeping conditions.

In one of Matt’s blogs, he takes the time to explain his training and journey that have helped him learn from his previous experience climbing Aconcagua in 2018. Matt’s previous journey up Aconcagua taught him that, training alone may still not be enough to keep those symptoms of altitude sickness at bay. Matt used the close link that Para-Monte have with University of Brighton’s Environmental Extremes Lab and took benefit from over 15, 2-3 hour sessions, with special help from PhD student Gregor Eichorn and myself, Bobbi-Jay Deegan (MSc Applied Exercise Physiology student), providing a structured plan for his hypoxic training sessions. These sessions included measurements of his oxygen saturation (i.e. how full his red blood cells were with oxygen), heart rate and energy expenditure; ultimately giving Matt education on what inclines and speeds he needed to up his calorie intake and hydration to compensate for the increased altitude strain and energy expenditure.

Matt on the summit of Mt. Aconcagua.

On 16th January 2020, Matt successfully summited Mt Aconcagua, reaching almost 7,000m of altitude. Upon reflection, Matt can look back and say that, even when times near the peak were tough, he has done Para-Monte extremely proud, whilst knowing that his preparation has inspired and educated many future mountaineers about altitude illness.

Matt Shore and Bobbi-Jay Deegan during the hypoxic training sessions.

On a personal note, as I develop my practitioner skills, I found the altitude acclimation sessions extremely beneficial. Being an MSc student at the University of Brighton, home of the Environmental Extremes Lab, we have plenty of opportunities to work with external companies and athletes within the degree. This gives us the chance to show the skills we’ve learnt to people we do not know, improving our soft skills in the process.

I feel enormously grateful to Matt, Gregor and the Environmental Extremes lab for giving me the opportunity to work with a great individual and allowing me to take control of Matt’s hypoxic training. In turn, this has helped enhance my experience working in the field of environmental extremes. Maybe it is my turn next to train for an altitude summit!

By Bobbi-Jay Deegan