Today, we publish another interview with a participant in the autumn 2011 scientific expedition to the Ortler mountain. The person interviewed is Valentin Hofer, a doctor who took part as a member of the mountain rescue service and as a Eurac researcher/consultant.
How did you get to work on the Ortler project?
I was invited by the EURAC Institute of Alpine Emergency Medicine, both as a mountain emergency doctor and as a scientific consultant for a EURAC high altitude medicine project, which was associated with the Ortler project.
What is your particular scientific interest in high altitudes?
As a mountain emergency doctor I’m primarily interested in the various kinds of altitude sickness. Not only is the sickness itself interesting, but also possible connections to accidents on the mountain.
What kind of atmosphere was there among the participants in the camp at altitude?
The atmosphere was very special: just being among people of different nationalities and professions, each with their own personality, was a valuable experience. Despite the different personalities and tasks, the mood was characterized right from the outset by mutual confidence and tolerance.
What was, in your opinion, the perception of the Ortler project down in the valley?
Since I live right at the foot of the Ortler mountain, I can say that reactions to the project were positive. Aside from a few critical remarks – which usually mainly come from the same people − the project had a far-reaching and very positive response in the media and among the population. Even now, several months after the end of the local activities, people are still curious about the findings of the two research projects.
What experiences were special for you during this project?
One was something I already mentioned in question three: the group dynamic and the sense of “community” which we felt from the very beginning despite the laborious and responsible tasks – which everyone had to complete.
What particularly impressed you before, during or after the project?
Two things: first of all the excellent preparations for and organization of the project, in particular the cooperation with the local and regional structures, for example in the realization of interdisciplinary project instruction in several languages and involving a number of schools. Secondly, being together and collaborating with internationally renowned scientists from various nations. Each of them was unique and at the same time open and human – something that in certain scientific circles cannot necessarily be take n for granted.
Will opportunities for your future activities result from this project?
Yes, they will, but right not I would prefer to talk about them. I prefer to think projects and ideas through carefully before sharing them.