“My motivation is to fight against misinformation, because when I hear that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as tobacco, I can see that it’s not true,” points out Rodriguez. The passionate climber has hiked up the highest mountains peaks and recorded it, in order to show that switching to vaping can transform smokers’ lives.
Like most vapers, Dominique Rodriguez used to be a heavy smoker. “I smoked about 30 cigarettes a day, sometimes up to two packs” he explains, “and as, at the same time, I was not doing much physical activity, little exercise and no of efforts, I was very diminished.”
After 20 years of smoking, Rodriguez discovered e-cigarettes, “I stopped smoking. It’s been seven years now.” The devices changed his life, “my breath came back very quickly. Almost immediately, I started the trek again, because I like it and my breathing abilities allow it again”.
“I like mountains a lot,” he says, “and three years ago I started doing more intensive treks that combine my passion for this environment and the beautiful scenery that comes with it, and a sporting activity. Gradually, I started climbing higher and higher, and I continued to set myself greater goals in terms of altitude.
From heavy smoker to accomplished climber
Rodriguez has climbed some of the most renowned mountains. “From the fact that I could reach such high altitudes by being overweight and having quit smoking, I was tasked at the time to lose 15 kg and attempt the ascent of Mont Blanc.
A few months later, in August 2017 and still overweight, I tried for the first time to climb the peak of Aneto, the highest peak of the Pyrenees at 3400 meters, which is at the mountaineering level, but I stopped 25 meters from the summit, frozen in front of this perilous passage called “The step of Muhammad”. Between September and November 2017 I lost 15 kg to start preparing to climb Mont Blanc.”
Next came Everest, of which base camp, which is at 5400 meters high, is higher than the summit of Mont Blanc. To reach it, 12 days of walking are necessary, in an environment where oxygen is scarce. “I was exhausted, I had altitude sickness, constant headaches. But I wanted to go to the end, and, arrived on the spot, it was an extraordinary pride.
At that time, I told myself that Mont Blanc, more technically difficult, was within my reach, and I was asked to lose weight and try to climb the roof of Europe,” explained Rodriguez.
Not bad for someone who seven years prior, was panting just climbing up the stairs, he pointed out. “I get down 20 ml of liquid a day, I’m a big vaper. And yet, my breathing abilities are identical to those of all the nonsmokers that I came across with on this path.”
Spreading a positive message
Subsequently, Dominique Rodriguez decided to start using his passion for climbing, to spread a positive message about vaping. “The hikes, at first, it was for my personal pleasure. But I heard too often that vaping is like smoking tobacco. That’s when I decided to start documenting my hikes in order to prove that no, an e-cigarette is not as dangerous as a regular cigarette, even with a consumption as high as mine.”
Nowadays, every time Rodriguez reaches a new peak, he takes a photo with a banner reading “E-cigarettes save lives”. His ultimate goal is delivering a message, “My goal is to answer critics of vaping…to ask them: if e-cigarettes are as dangerous as you are claiming, tell me, how am I able to achieve all this? “
By Diane Caruana