Change the world

Madibaz Sport

03/08/2015

We asked NMMU vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz half a dozen questions on the eve of his departure to summit the 3 776m Mount Fuji in Japan on August 7 as part of the #climb4nmmu campaign.
 
Q: Why are you taking on this mountainous task?
 
A: It's a great opportunity to complete a life-long dream and help to raise funds for academically deserving but financially needy students. It is entirely opportunistic because I happen to be going to Japan on university business.
 
Q: Why Mount Fuji?
 
A: I've always wanted to do Mount Fuji fully. I've only done a bit some four years ago, up to the fifth base camp, but I couldn't go further because it was getting dark then and I didn't have proper kit. I looked up at the summit of the mountain and I said, "I'm going to be back".
 
Q: The base camps have a symbolic association. Tell us a bit about that.
 
A: Each base camp will represent a challenge that many students face in order to get a tertiary qualification. These are vision, purpose, financial sustenance, perseverance, health and wellness, mentorship, self-belief, talent, corporate and community engagement, and ubuntu. When I reach each of the base camps, various companies will sponsor funds towards the #climb4nmmu campaign. Each base camp also celebrates a year of NMMU's first decade.
 
Q: How have your preparations gone?
 
A: The preparations are going pretty well and I've been preparing for the last six months or so. I've been active in hiking and mountaineering for the last year and a half, but not on the scale I'm going to be doing in Japan, so I'm reasonably fit. Climbing fit, of course, is a different level of preparation. So for the last few months I've been doing more strident hiking and climbing over mountains - as many as I could get in South Africa.
 
Q: Main building on South Campus is a bit of a hike in itself, isn't it?
 
A: Every day I scale a few times up and down the main building to give me some vertical exercise. It doesn't really help in the actual "getting you climbing fit" because climbing involves using your legs and your back to some extent.
 
Q: Climbing a mountain is not about how fast you do it is it?
 
A: Technically you're not going to run up the mountain. It's more a slow, methodical, fairly boring walk for much of the time until you get to the more difficult parts when you have to then exert yourself. It's more endurance than speed, so you require a different level of fitness. It's not like doing a 100-metre sprint - it's more doing a marathon slowly and methodically.
 
Follow the#climb4nmmu campaign on @NMMU4U and @Madibaz4U.

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