#interview #MihneaPrundeanu #TMFExpedition #Garmin #rockclimbing #alpinism #FullTimeChallenge

Lots of determination and a healthy dose of humour: this is in a few words Mihnea Prundeanu, alpinist, IFMGA mountain guide and geographer. With a rich alpinism and climbing palmares, Mihnea Prundeanu has succeeded impressive ascents in the great mountain ranges of the world: Himalaya, Cordillera Blanca, Alps, Thian Shan, Patagonia, Sierra Nevada range and Alaska mountains. His passion for the mountains was born and nourished here, in the wild Carpathians.

Our public had the chance to meet him on the Transylvania Mountain Festival stage, Mihnea Prundeanu being one of our co-founders and technical responsible with all mountain sports activities during the festival. But for most of us, Mihnea is a mountaineering friend, a climbing partner or a colleague in the CAR – Romanian Alpine Club.

Protagonist and initiator of the “Full Time Challenge” project – the documentary of the TMF 2019 expedition powered by Garmin, we bring Mihnea closer to you via this special interview.

Mihnea Prundeanu / Alpinist & Mountain Guide / South Face of Aiguille du Midi

[D.C. – Diana Ciorba]: What inspired you to grow as an alpinist and mountain guide?

Mihnea Prundeanu: I have practiced various sports during my childhood. Sport taught me that any activity must have an evolution. Once I arrived in Cluj as a student, I started going in the mountains, hiking in the major massifs of the Carpathians. Moving from hiking to other mountain activities and next alpinism was very logical, and it definitely happened from within!  Much later, after an intense mountain experience in various disciplines, I decided to become a mountain guide – first on national territory and then with an international certification. I have chosen to commit even more to my passion for the mountains, but I also had to earn money for a living, and the mountain guide profession opened the possibility to be full-time connected to this passion.

Mihnea Pundeanu / ice climbing / photo by Alex Sava / Dalbina ice fall – West Carpathians

[D.C.:] What challenges were you facing?

Mihnea Prundeanu: There are several big challenges in both alpinism and mountain guide careers.   They are two difficult paths that require a lot of determination, patience and perseverance, topped by the need to adapt to the living conditions especially when you are not living in a country with a solid alpine or mountain tradition.

[D.C.:] Did you have the chance of meeting some mentors along the way?

Mihnea Prundeanu: Luckily, I did! Mr. Dinu Mititeanu was indeed the one who inspired me with his true passion for the mountains. I love sports, I can even say that I am a little bit quite competitive (!) but, in the mountains everything is built upon a strong passion for admiring all that is beautiful, this being ultimately the main reason for which I go out in nature.

By Cosmin Andron’s side, I started to grasp the complexity of alpinism. I started to pay more attention to the style, to the ethics, to the message.

I am lucky to have many friends from whom I have learned a lot, and also I am massively inspired by alpinists I did not have the chance to meet in person.

Mihnea Prundeanu / Alpinism / Traversing on Exocet – Aguja Standhardt, Patagonia

[D.C.:] What was the critical point on Chobutse?

Mihnea Prundeanu: The critical point was the moment  when we reached the single place that we identified as appropriate for setting up our bivouac during the second night on the new route and we realized that we could not even lay down a single mattress …  and a tent was out of the question. We realized that without any rest we did not have the resources to continue such a technical ascent at above 6000m. We decided to withdraw. This is still frustrating for we did not interrupt our ascent due to the technical difficulty of the route, but for a minor logistical detail: where can I spend my night?

[D.C.:] How do you take decisions in such expeditions compared to a guiding project?

Mihnea Prundeanu: Definitely, the level of preparation and experience impact the most the way we take decisions and we add the responsibility associated with the mountain guide profession. When I am guiding a client I cannot guarantee that he/she will not stumble upon a simple rock at some moment.  Such a trivial event can trigger a serious accident, which is not acceptable for us mountain guides. We have to take all possible measures to avoid any accident.

When I go on a route with a partner and friend whom I know very well, we afford to „play” according to our level of preparation. Most of the times, our preparation and fitness level are almost the same, and you get to know your partner as you know yourself. This gives you a wider options palette when managing risk.

Mihnea Prundeanu / The Expedition on Chobutse / On the way to ABC – Rolwaling Valley, Nepal, Himalaya

D.C.:] How do you combine the personal and professional life?

Mihnea Prundeanu: I try to keep a balance, and it is the most difficult thing to do, because I do both climbing for myself and mountain guiding out of my passion for the mountains. I choose to set a barrier between guiding days and mountain guiding days. When guiding, I try to adopt a professional attitude, I am more strict in enforcing rules and safety regulations. The chances to have the safest guided tour increase while minimizing human errors, that are otherwise normal. To this we add the overall experience and the interaction with the client aiming to turn the entire tour in a beautiful experience, where the client can also learn and have fun.

These aspects turn the profession into a difficult one: risk management, intense physical activity, customer interaction, logistics, etc. Should you be doing this too much, in your free time you will want to run to the sea, far from the mountains. But not if you have a different mental attitude to mountain activities. This is where I put this barrier to help keep balance. On top of that, most of the time I set personal goals so hard to achieve, or so attractive that they  keep my motivation high!

Mihnea Prundeanu / Rock Climbing / Guiding on Brevent-Chamonix

[D.C.:] What role does technology play in your alpine arsenal?

Mihnea Prundeanu: I think it is easy to complicate our lives and it is quite difficult to simplify it. Technology helps us both ways. A simple example is the smartwatch: 90 % of its functions are completely useless for me, but the rest of 10% make it indispensable. Technology opens new horizons in all fields, including in alpinism where new equipment, much lighter, more ergonomic, more safe, makes your life much easier. Along with the evolution of technology we are also responsible to adapt the ethics during the activities we practice. Should we install escalators to the summit only for technology allows it, could we learn the same things about us during the ascent to the mountain summit?

[D.C.:] What do you aim to communicate through the TMF initiative?

Mountains, through all the activities, form a highly complex environment. Cultivating knowledge about mountains not only enriches our culture but also gives us the opportunity to find new things about ourselves.  A mountain festival such as TMF – Transylvania Mountain Festival – is ab open door to the “garden” that all mountain lovers cultivate with intense passion.


Full Time Challenge, (2019) / Mihnea Prundeanu & Kyirakos Rossidis, post-production: Ibex Media , Alex Sava)


Thank you Mihnea, for your determination and the fun you always engage people into. To many more interesting mountain projects for the future!
For all those curious about his alpinism and climbing adventures, you can follow Mihnea on his official pages:


Notable ascents and climbs:

  • The AlpsGrandes Jorasses 4208mPilier Croz on Sloven route, TD+, 1100 m ; Pilier Walker on route Cassin, ED, 1200 m; Eiger 3967m – Eiger North Face, Heckmayr route, ED, 1500 m;
  • Mont Blanc Massif –Beyond Good & Evil, ED; Pinochio (Tacul), M6+; Le Temps est Assasin M6+(Triangle du Tacul); Arette du Diable (Tacul); O Sole Mio, Grand Capucin; Super Dupont, Aiguille du Midi; Eugster Direct, Aiguille du Midi N Face; Lagarde Directe, Les Droites N Face;
  • Gorges du Verdon –La Pate Demande (Demande variation);
  • The Dolomites: Hasse Brandler, Cima Grande N Face;
  • Atlas Mountains, Taghia: – Baraka, Oujdad; Un apres midi de Chien, Taujdad; Canyone Apache;
  • Patagonia, El Chalten: – Exocet, Cerro Standhardt; – Whillans-Cochrane, Poincenot; Richardson Simms, Aguja Guillaumet.
  • Yosemite, USA: The Nose, El Capitan; South Face of Washington Column.
  • Himalaya, India: new route to Khhang Shiling (6360m), NE face.
  • Thian Shan: – Khan Tengri summit 7010 m, North ascent
  • Cordillera Blanca, Peru – Tocclaraju summit, West Face, D, 1000 m; Directa Francese to Alpamayo summit, D+, 450 m.
  • Alaska, USA: – West Buttress (classic) on Mount Denali 6140 m.

Get ready for the screening of his new adventures in Cluj-Napoca. Soon!

Interview „MIHNEA PRUNDEANU – On Mountain Passion” prepared by Diana Ciorba.

Cluj-Napoca, 30/05/2020