Dubai: Two Dubai residents will attempt to climb Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn in July in aid of an Emirates Red Crescent initiative launched in Ramadan to help UAE blue collar workers.
Olga Zolotova, 28, from Russia, who works in business development, and Lebanese-Canadian Mohammad Khalaf, 31, an export manager, will take on all 4,808 metres of Mont Blanc — the highest peak in western Europe — which is located in the Alps on the border between France and Italy, before moving on to the Matterhorn (4,478-metres) in Switzerland, which is considered one of the hardest mountains to climb in Europe.
It follows their 2016 scaling of Africa’s tallest peak Mount Kilamanjaro (5,985-metres) in Tanzania, their 2017 ascent of the highest peak in all of Europe, the Elbrus (5,642-metres), in Russia, and a last year’s trip up the Aconcagua (6,960-metres) in Argentina, the highest mountain in South America.
All of these successful summit attempts were for good causes to support tolerance, UAE workers and an Emirates Red Crescent school for misplaced kids in Syria.
This latest expedition will be no exception, as the pair call on residents to help the Red Crescent collect hygiene and personal care items for UAE blue collar workers by donating anything from shampoos and soaps, to towels and deodorants at Time Square Centre from May 16 to June 15.
“We are privileged to live in exceptional comfort and safety but because we see and feel it every day we slowly stop noticing those comforts and they become something that goes without saying,” said Zolotova.
“That is why this month we want to thank the people who stand behind those comforts, people who wake up at night to clean the streets, who fill your car with petrol, who clean the malls after midnight, who build the roads and the gardens and the people who have left their families and sacrificed their comforts to create those comforts for others,” she added.
Khalaf added: “We are climbing Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn as part of our plan to complete all lists of the seven summits — the highest points of each continent — and we would like to dedicate it to UAE blue collar workers by collecting hygiene products for them. I urge everyone to participate even if it’s just by spreading the word.”
In preparation for their next excursion, Zolotova and Khalaf have been training twice a day for the last couple of months to ensure that they are strong enough to carry 15-20kg load on their climb. They are also working on increasing their stamina by engaging in cardio activities such as running, swimming and climbing the stairs.
“Mohammad and I believe in giving back to society and we also really love sport. That is why we always use our sporting challenges to raise awareness of social causes,” said Zolotova.
Along with climbing mountains, the pair have also taken part in a number of challenges including cycling and running for charity causes to raise donations for orphans, cancer patients, and children in Africa.
What are the seven summits?
The highest mountains in each of the seven continents. There is some discrepancy in the definition however, as on paper the Elbrus in Russia is the highest peak in Europe despite being closer to Asia. On some lists they class the Elbrus as Europe’s highest peak, whereas on other lists Mont Blanc remains Europe’s highest peak.
■ Mount Everest, 8,848-metres, Nepal/China, Asia
■ Aconcagua, 6,960-metres, Argentina, South America
■ Denali, 6,149-metres, USA, North America
■ Kilamanjaro, 5,895- metres, Tanzania, Africa
■ Mount Elbrus, 5,642-metres, Russia, Europe / Mont Blanc, 4,808-metres, France/Italy, Europe
■ Mount Vinson, 4,892-metres, Antarctica
■ Puncak Jaya, 4,884-metres, Indonesia, Australasia / Mount Kosciuszko, 2,228-metres, Australia, Australasia