In late 2018, Claire Dupont created the Summits of My Heart adventure, inspired by Summits of My Life, the famous book from Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet, whose personal story also inspired this project. Claire is the mother of Camille, who underwent an open-heart surgery with a partial transplant when she was only nine months old. In the months following the operation, Claire found a renewed energy while reading Summits of My Life, as well as a deep confidence in life, inspired by a phrase from Kilian’s book: “Nothing is impossible!” Today, Camille is 9 years old and living life to the fullest! This is Claire’s story in her own words:
This life-changing experience hugely boosted my inner strengths. I started to run marathons for Mecenat Chirurgie Cardiaque (a French non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide treatment for children with cardiac malformation in France when their countries can’t), and I pledged to donate one cent of euro for every single heartbeat during those races. But I wanted to do more.
On the 22nd of October 2018, standing at the bottom of the ‘Orgues de Caplong’ and the ‘Pic d’Anie’ (Vallee d’Aspe-Pyrénées Atlantiques-France), I realized that the highs and lows of my heartbeat resembled the landscape of the mountains around me. Arriving at the summit, there was a Hindu flag, and the idea sparked in my head to decorate the summits of mountains with a flag bearing the logo of the charity, a red heart, which would bring hope to people.
Shortly after this climb, I began setting things up, finding sponsors and supporters. In 2019, I vouched to climb 90 summits, my aim being 9 million heartbeats, which would translate into 90,000 Euros, meaning that 9 children could get access to their lifesaving operation. On the 1st of January, accompanied by my daughter Camille, we climbed the Rhune, our first summit, located in the Pays Basque, in the South-West of France. To my amazement, it only took Camille a third of the estimated time to reach the top, and all this with a constant smile on her face, despite the thick fog and freezing temperatures. The sun welcomed us at the top; it felt like a good omen as it warmed our bodies and our hearts.
At the time I did not know what would become of my idea. It just started as an adventure, but I hold a deep belief in “seizing the day” and making each day count. It was not always easy... I remember waking up at 5 AM one day in March, having only just managed to fall asleep, wary of what was ahead: Cotiella, a summit in the “Pyrénées Aragonaises.” It isn’t a particularly difficult climb, but it is fraught with dangers: the ground was covered in icy snow, and we would have to avoid a lot of chasms. But the harder it became, the more invigorated I felt. I have always believed that if I challenge my abilities, I can overcome any difficulty and that is how I can improve.
And, thanks to those personal challenges, I managed to reach the summit of Neouvielle, via the ridge of the “3 Conseillers”, with the help of a friend and guide, Carlos. His knowledge of the mountain, his ability to stay calm and his patience helped me to see the mountain as something simple and beautiful, which needs to be respected and supported in order to reach the summit. And reaching summits was what I wanted to do to support the charity.
Since January 2019, 85 summits have been decorated with the red-hearted flag of Mecenat Chirurgie Cardiaque. Camille climbed 20 of those with me, wholeheartedly. We have managed to reach 5 million heartbeats, which recently allowed the charity to proceed with the first operation on a little girl from Madagascar. She was born in February of 2018 with an abnormal communication between her ventricles due to a narrowing of the coronary artery, was operated on the 6th of September and rejoined with her parents in November. We shall not stop there. Ideally, we would love to plant our flags on all the summits of the world to give hope to all children... Let's do this!
Credits photo Antoine Garcia ©️