A CERN flag is set to wave up in the Himalayas

On 18 October, Hubert Reymond, from the Industrial Controls and Engineering group of the EN Department, will be leaving to Nepal with a CERN flag in his backpack. He will place it at the highest point of his trek across the Annapurna mountains in the Himalayas, Thorong La pass, at 5,416 m above sea level.


A view of the Annapurna mountains (source: www.flickr.com/minutesalone)

“Is there any official CERN flag I can carry with me during my trek through Nepal?”
Some days ago, the Press Office was confronted with this unusual (but see box) question from Hubert Reymond. From 18 October to 10 November, Reymond, who works as an industrial computing engineer in the EN Department, will be trekking across the 55 km-long Annapurna massif in the Himalayas, whose highest point lies at 8,091 m (making it the 10th-highest summit in the world).

The area is well-known to trekkers from around the world, as it includes several world-class circuits, including the Annapurna circuit which Reymond will take.
The mountain chain is part of the Annapurna Conservation Area, the first and largest conservation area in Nepal (7,629 km2). At altitudes of this kind, one of the main problems is acclimatization: simple headaches, as well as mountain sickness, are always just around the corner. “The Annapurna trek will start at 800 m above sea level, then we will gradually go up in altitude, in stages of 500 m every day, in order to get our bodies used to the new conditions. The pressure at altitudes above 5,000 m is half what it is at sea level, so breathing becomes difficult and you need time to get used to it”, Reymond explains. Day after day, he will pass through different environments, taking in rice fields, conifer forests, alpine-like vegetation of rocks and sparse blades of grass, and even areas with perpetual snow. The highest point of the Annapurna circuit will be the Thorong La pass, at 5,416 m, and it is there that CERN's flag will be placed.

Hubert Reymond on the top of Kilimanjaro

Reymond is already familiar with the problems of acclimatization: even if he does not consider himself a sportsman, this is not his first trekking experience. “This will be my first time in Nepal, but I have already trekked across Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2008”, says Reymond. “When I went to Tanzania, I took a poster with me bearing the name of my home town in Haute-Savoie. I said to myself ‘I’ll take a picture of myself with the poster at the top’. In fact, what I needed was something to motivate me so I wouldn't let tiredness or sickness tempt me to abandon the trek before I reached the top. For this trek in Asia, I thought it would be nice to have a CERN flag”.


Did you know?

In 2005 Miguel Cerqueira Bastos (AB/PO), David Collados Polidura (IT/GM), Sandra Sequeira Tavares (PH/CMI) and Daniel Cano Ott (n_TOF) raised the official CERN Jubilee flag at an altitude of 5,895 metres If you are you aware of CERN flags photographed in other exotic places in the world, don't hesitate to contact the Bulletin.

by Roberto Cantoni