Vadim Trubetskoy: When I’m climbing, there are no boundaries, no societal norms and no need to conform


Credit: Vadim Trubetskoy

Pictured above is senior Vadim Trubestkoy wearing mountaineering clothing in the White Mountains. Special clothing for mountaineering can cost upwards of thousands of dollars.

Jay Abdella

Many students have hobbies that take them in and out of school. But for senior Vadim Trubetskoy, his hobby takes him to the highest places in the world. Trubetskoy will partake in a month-long journey to climb Mount Denali in Alaska this spring. If completed, Trubetskoy will be one of the youngest people in New England to climb the 20,310-foot mountain in Alaska. Denali is known as one of the Seven Summits of the world – a set of the highest mountains of each continent.

“[Climbing Denali is] the most difficult challenge of my life,” Trubetskoy said. “It might be the biggest challenge of my entire life, even after it. I’m very involved in the mountaineering scene, and it is considered by many people to be the most physically challenging and has some of the worst conditions on Earth, outside of Antarctica.”

Trubetskoy’s climbing hobby stems from his early childhood. He always had an affinity for climbing since his trip to Egypt when he was a toddler.

“I’ve always been drawn to climbing, to the outdoors,” Trubetskoy said. “I remember when I was four years old, my parents and I went on vacation to Egypt. I could barely walk, but I would climb all over the hotel.”

From his early days, Trubetskoy has always enjoyed the outdoors. From hiking to rock climbing, Trubetskoy has always found joy in outdoor activities. It wasn’t until he was older that he became interested in mountaineering.

“I found my niche in mountaineering,” Trubetskoy said. “I’ve always been an ambitious person, and for me, mountaineering is the epitome of climbing. I want to pursue high altitude mountaineering, you know, climbing the Himalayas and such, so I know that is my goal.”

Denali is far from the first mountain Trubetskoy has climbed. He has climbed other mountains in the United States, including Mount Washington in New Hampshire and Mount Whitney in California. Trubetskoy has climbed Mount Elbrus in Russia, another of the seven summits.

“I’ve climbed all over New England. When I was in Russia, I climbed Mount Elbrus,” Trubetskoy said. “It was around three years ago, and it was another of the Seven Summits. I had a family friend who was a climber, so we hooked up with her and climbed [the mountain].”

To prepare for such a climb, Trubetskoy must build up his cardio, endurance and stamina by pushing his body harder than ever. In the past, Trubetskoy has run the Presidential Traverse, a trail which stretches 23 miles and crosses through the White Mountains in New Hampshire with multiple bouts of rising elevation. As well as doing crew to work on cardio, Trubetskoy also has trained by running stadiums at Harvard University.

“Harvard Stadiums is this thing that the crew teams does. You [run up] Harvard Stadiums, and it’s great training,” Trubetskoy said. “I’m going to bring my backpack filled up with sandbags.”

As well as training with sandbags, Trubetskoy also has a special apparatus to mimic the conditions he will face while climbing at high altitudes.

“I have this apparatus which works to give resistance when you breathe and prepares you for high altitudes,” Trubetskoy said. “What people don’t realize is that the lack of oxygen takes a very big toll on you, and every breath is a lot of work.”

While Trubetskoy enjoys mountaineering greatly, he’s also learned that is is an expensive hobby. The equipment he needs, especially for hikes such as Denali, can cost thousands of dollars.

“A negative 40 degree sleeping bag is $1,000, and top mountaineering boots [cost] thousands of dollars,” Trubetskoy said. “Mountaineering is an incredibly expensive hobby as I found out, unfortunately. I’m putting out $10,000 for Denali.”

Trubetskoy is not alone in his journey to climb Mount Denali. He has support from friends and his sponsor, Four Purpose Energy.

“I had a connection and got sponsored by a drinking company called Four Purpose Energy. They helped me gather the funds to pursue this dream,” Trubetskoy said. ”A few friends chipped in and bought me a nice ax for the trip, which was nice.”

Trubetskoy’s dedication to climbing Mount Denali has forced him to make sacrifices. Trubetskoy’s trip is scheduled to begin May 31, which means he will miss his high school graduation. The trek is expected to take a month to climb. He will be climbing through the organization Adventure Consultants and will be with a group of hikers and guides.

“While I’m sad that I won’t get to walk onto that stage to receive my diploma with my friends before we all part ways, I feel incredibly privileged,” Trubetskoy said. “Billions of people graduate from high school but only a few get to climb Denali and see that kind of beauty.”

While Trubetskoy is sacrificing a special moment of high school, his love for the mountain gives him a feeling like no other.

“Up there on the mountain, I feel alive,” Trubetskoy said. “I am completely raw and free in my emotions. I crave to push myself to the physical and mental extreme whilst surrounded by unimaginable beauty. When I’m climbing, there are no boundaries, no societal norms and no need to conform. I can truly be myself.”