4.000 meters high, at sea level!

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How do you prepare yourself for an expedition to the highest mountain on the south pole?

Adventurer Arnaud de Wilde (50), trains at an altitude of 4000 meters – in a gym in the Netherlands.

It is impossible for Arnaud de Wilde to enter Healthclub Juliën in Lienden unnoticed. De Wilde wears his complete expedition outfit: hiking boots, a 95 liter backpack on his shoulders, ready to defy the south pole. But first, he walks the ten kilometers between his house and the gym. When he arrives at the gym,he enters a special high altitude training room, which by that time, is already prepared by the employees for it’s visit to Juliën.

In the altitude room, oxygen levels are lowered.  Therefore, it feels as if you were standing on a mountain of 4.000 meters. De Wilde places his oximeter on his index finger and clicks a heartbeat sensor around his chest. Than he steps on the treadmill: during the upcoming three hours he will walk a steep hike, just like in the mountains.

This is how Arnaud prepares for this unique expedition. Together with his Belgian climbing mate Wim De Bakker, he wants to climb the highest mountain on Antarctica. Mount Vinson is 4.892 meters high. Higher than the Mont Blanc, but especially an enormous climb considering the extreme cold of Antarctica and the constant polar winds. Mount Vinson feels like a seven-thousander, due to the low air pressure that close to the south pole. It is the most difficult mountain of the Seven Summits; the seven highest mountains of every continent.” 

The altitude rooms are a key ingredient in Arnaud’s training program. “It is important to know how you react to the conditions in the mountains. For how long can you walk at an altitude of 4.000 meters? What happens with your heartbeat? How many kilometers can you walk on a steep hill? All of this can be tested in the altitude room. On top of that, high altitude training increases the amount of  red blood cells in Arnaud’s blood, which makes him more adaptable to thin mountain air.” 

Arnaud is a striking user of high altitude training rooms at Healthclub Juliën. Most people that use high altitude rooms are people who try to lose eight. “Training in high altitude rooms increases the speed of burning calories.” Tells Edwin Willemsen, director of b-Cat, the company that develops the altitude rooms. 

This technology has lots of different applications: Fire prevention, protection of cultural preservation and insect treatment in agriculture for protection of fruit and vegetables.