High-performing student heads to Alps for A-level
Teen conducts research while climbing 4,000-metre peak
Diligent students at Invicta Grammar School often work hard towards their A-levels. But 16-year-old Thibau Grumett has gone further than most – to the Italian Alps in fact.
Thibau is a keen mountaineer and passionate about human biology.
So he decided to spend four days in the Alps doing some research on the effects of altitude on the human body as part of his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), a research-based project at A-level.
He had planned to climb Mont Blanc in France, but bad weather conditions there forced a late switch of location to Gran Paradiso, the highest mountain situated entirely in Italy.
The Year 12 pupil, from Weavering, climbed with his father, Piers Grumett, and a guide, Simon Hale.
Thibau took measurements of blood oxygen, pulse, blood pressure, breathing, reflexes, mem- ory and quality of sleep at different altitudes, using himself and his two comrades as guinea pigs.
The ascent involved a climb up to a refuge at 3,710m, where everyone acclimatised overnight before starting the climb through the freezing cold to the summit at around 5.30am the following morning.
This started with a long ascent over a glacier where care was required to avoid falling into one of the crevasses.
The final climb meant traversing the bergschrund crevasse at the edge of the glacier and climbing the rocks at the summit to reach 4,061m.
Thibau said: “What I found, perhaps unsurprisingly, was the level of oxygen in our blood dropped remarkably, from 99% to 70%. Our blood pressure also went up.”
However, his tests revealed no substantial effects on memory or reflex times.
“The altitude did affect our sleep patterns, though. We found we kept waking up a lot more.”
Thibau is now writing up his report to go with his test results before submitting it for marking.
As part of the EPQ, he also has to do a presentation on his findings, which he will do at a conference in Tunbridge Wells later this month.
Thibau was born in England, but has lived in Belgium, returning to the UK nine years ago.
He is taking biology, design and technology, and economics at A-level, and has already taken his French A-level.
His parents said: “We are very proud of his achievement.”
Thibau Grumett relaxes indoors and during his biology project in the Alps