High-per­form­ing stu­dent heads to Alps for A-level

Teen con­ducts re­search while climb­ing 4,000-me­tre peak

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Smith aj­smith@thek­m­group.co.uk @aj­smithKM

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

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