As you sip your cocktail under the hot sun, looking out to the horizon between our blue sky and Caribbean Sea, does your mind ever drift to images of snow-capped peaks and sheer vertical drops. No? Didn’t think so. But one Cozumel resident has been envisioning such sights for over four months now in preparation for facing them as he climbs Mont Blanc.
Meet Tom Pugliano. Originally from the U.S., Tom has been resident in Cozumel for three years. In that short time he has already made a name for himself as a purveyor of some of the area’s best coffee, roasted and blended in-house at Coz Coffee Roasting Company. His coffee “has been taken home to every state in the United States, every province of Canada, every country in Europe and as far as the Caspian Sea.”
Tom hopes that his will be a happy story for the region and a contrast to the unjustified bad publicity Mexico often receives internationally. He has a “genuine concern” about promoting the area. “It is much safer and friendlier and a really rich culture to experience than most American cities. People forget about that. We walk around here with no fear whatsoever.”
So how does a 68-year old man (yes, that’s correct, 68!) go from roasting coffee at sea level on the island of Cozumel to scaling the highest mountain in the Alps at a vertiginous 4,800 meters (16,000 ft)?
Inspired by friends from the mountainous region, Tom describes this as a bucket-list item for himself and his son, Nick. Nick will accompany Tom on the climb along with a local professional guide. Nick was a paratrooper and is therefore prepared for such adventures. Tom, on the other hand, has been training for over four months now at the gym at Titan Wellness Centre in order to get his body ready for the challenges of the climb, and has lost 26 lbs. Physical strength and fitness are not the only challenges though – there is also the weather and altitude to consider. In preparation for such extreme conditions, Tom has spent a week training on higher ground at 7,000 ft in Mexico, followed by five days at 13,000 ft and three days of acclimation and training before the climb. “I’m confident about it”, he told me. “I’d say if the weather lets us go, we’ll make it. I’m nervous, but it’s not a fear nervous, it’s more like an excited nervous.”
Tom will hopefully be halfway through his endeavor as we go to print. Here’s wishing this adventurous spirit all the very best for a successful climb. We wait with baited breath for his return, and look forward to publishing an update and photos of Tom at the top.