Mohamed Tounkara is a computer engineer, former child of the military Prytaneum in Saint-Louis. He has just planted Senegal’s flag at a height of almost 4810m. This ascent took four days.
AXADLE: Were you prepared for this expedition? You are very athletic, but the mountains are an environment you know less about?
Mohammad Tounkara: I didn’t really know the mountains, nor really the snow, because I’m Senegalese. I was born in Senegal, I grew up in Senegal. I discovered the mountains with the snowboard. My brother-in-law introduced me to skiing and snowboarding. Afterwards, it wasn’t enough for me to go down the slopes, so I told myself I had to start climbing them.
In the videos, we see you talk about the worst day of your life. What was the most challenging for you?
The most trying were the dangers: the crevices that I had to jump, the falling rocks that I had to avoid, the very steep passages that I had to negotiate. These dangers were a real challenge for me. There was also a lack of oxygen, because at an altitude of 4,000 meters there is less oxygen in the air, which was very taxing.
What caused this lack of oxygen?
We perform less well, we take longer to do things, we make less good decisions, we are very tired, we have headaches and we cannot sleep.
You were talking about those insomniacs at the shelter?
We can’t sleep because the heart pumps more at altitude. We have headaches, we often feel dizzy. Therefore, you must acclimatize, that is, stay at least two to three days at altitude to allow the body to adapt to the lack of oxygen.
What did you learn from this expedition?
The mountain taught me to be humble because I saw my life pass me by several times. I also created another me that I discuss with, that helps me to understand feelings, to surpass myself, to see life differently, to appreciate it better. When we are in the mountains, we are always exposed to death . It is with suffering that we grow.
What is the greatest trial you have overcome? Do you want to start over or force yourself to take other tests of this type?
The greater the risk, the greater the satisfaction. The next expedition will be Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.