ExWeb interview with Pavel Blazek, It's mostly about what I like to do, what drives me

Posted: Feb 19, 2010 08:25 am EST

Two Czechs, Vasek Sura and Pavel Blazek, are leaving for Siberia on February 21 and if all goes well they will start their unassisted, unsupported expedition across Lake Baikal two days later.

Pavel talks to ExWeb about their route, possible challenges on Lake Baikal, about how he and Vasek know each other and how he feels about the expedition. Correne Coetzer caught up with him in the Czech Republic.

ExplorersWeb: Where will you start and finish?

Pavel: We want to do the whole crossing of the lake so we will start from the small village of Kultuk on the southern side of the lake Baikal and our finish is the northernmost side of the lake, near to the village of Nizhneangarsk.

Some of the previous expeditions ended in Severobaykal'sk which is about 25 km south of Nizhneangarsk.

ExplorersWeb: What would you say would be Baikals biggest challenge?

Pavel: It's hard to say. Probably the routine, distance and temperatures, which can drop as low as -40°C (-40°F).

I asked people who have already crossed the lake the same question and three out of five mentioned drunks asking for money... I was even warned to have an extra wallet ready with little money in it so I can give them something.

I do not want this to sound that the people living around the lake are alcoholics or beggars - I do not think anything like that about them! It is just what we were told.

ExplorersWeb: How do you and Vasek know each other and what expeditions have you done together?

Pavel: Vasek has done several expeditions in Greenland and Svalbard, and he reached the North Pole starting from the Barneo in 2005.

I read about him on the Internet and in the news. He knew about me from my websites - I did few smaller trips then I tried twice (unsuccessfully) solo crossing of the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland.

Vasek called me when I got back to the Czech Rep. after the last trip and asked if I would like to join him on his next one. Crossing of the lake Baikal is our first trip together.

ExplorersWeb: Why did you say yes when Vasek asked you to go with to Lake Baikal?

Pavel: There are maybe four or five people in the Czech Republic who have ever tried similar trips and Vasek is definitely one of the most experienced. So I thought it will be good chance to learn something.

Moreover I did most of my previous trips solo and didn't succeed many times. To go with Vasek I'll see if I'm really up to similar expedition or not and the previous failures were thanks to at least partly the bad luck.

ExplorersWeb: How do you feel about the expedition?

Pavel: I feel awesome. I'm really looking forward to it. I know it will be hard, cold and so on but at the same time I see a certain beauty in these trips. I don't think I need to explain what I mean by that to you or to the ExplorersWeb readers, as they probably know themselves.

Somebody said that those who know don't need to ask and those who don't know will never understand the answer anyway.

ExplorersWeb: What are you looking forward to?

Pavel: You know, those days when you feel strong, the weather is perfect, the snow is cracking under your feet and you feel happy.

ExplorersWeb: You are doing mountain and rock climber. How does the sledge-hauling mentally/psychologically differ from the mountains and the rocks?

Pavel: I don't think there is a big difference... I am not that experienced as I have never been to the Himalayas, I've never did some really big climbs or expeditions but for me it's mostly about what I like to do, what drives me - that is important.

ExplorersWeb: What have you learned from Vasek?

Pavel: As I said we had never done anything together yet, but what I'm learning right now (during the preparations and I'm sure most of the people know how stressful it can be to get all the sponsors, organize everything and so on) is exactly what Rune Gjeldness said during one of the interview with ExWeb, "never say bad things to your partner" even if you do not agree with him.

I mean, Vasek is a great person and we are getting on really well but you know, there are and will be moments when we are really stressed out, under pressure and loosing our nerves. I think it is really important to know how to handle these situations and keep in mind that we are a team.

[Check in again for an interview with Vasek Sura.]

Pavel Blazek (born 1975) lives in a small town called Chrudim in the Czech Republic but he spends a lot of time (about three months a year) in Boulder and Denver in Colorado, USA. I wish I could live there as it's really a beautiful place, he says.

Pavel is a web designer and marketing manager of a company which sells outdoor clothes (Bergans, Devold, Klattermusen, Dale, Fjellpulken) in the Czech Republic.

He likes rock-climbing, mountain biking (either day or month long trips), hiking trips, playing with his Mac and photography. I even enjoy working because I am lucky to do for a living what I really like, he adds.

Pavel is a vegetarian. His favorites are tofu, soy meat, and spaghetti in every form. I can live only on spaghetti for months and still love them :) He doesnt get much time to read any more, he says, but he used to like Bill Bryson's books. There is also excellent books by Will Steger or Fergus Fleming who wrote Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole - probably one of the best books on the history of polar expeditions. As for movies he enjoyed The Soloist, Inglourious Basterds and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

#Polar #interview

Pavel Blazek (click to enlarge)
courtesy Pavel Blazek
Climbing Longs Peak, Colorado (click to enlarge)
courtesy Pavel Blazek
Hiking in the Rockies (click to enlarge)
courtesy Pavel Blazek
Cycling across Sweden (click to enlarge)
courtesy Pavel Blazek