Iulian Panescu is a man who loves the mountains and the fresh air and who managed to transform his passion for mountain activities into a way to bring people closer to nature. He has been a mountain guide for many years, we only met him in the last weeks, when Iulian managed to bring the mountains closer to us. We invite you to read a beautiful interview about passion, work, but especially about love for nature.
1. Hello, Iulian. First of all, thank you on behalf of the team for the nice hike in which you guided us in the Cindrel mountains. We can't wait for the next one. Tell us, why mountain guide? How did you come to practice this profession?
Hello, New Concept Living! With pleasure!
It was a beautiful hike in the fact that I had with me a gang of nice people, happy and full of enthusiasm, an united team, but also due to the weather that allowed us to hike.
I look forward to seeing you on as many hikes as possible with me or with one of the authorized mountain guides, members of the MountainGuide-Sibiu team.
My job as a mountain guide started with another job – that of mountain rescuer, which in turn started from a passion: hiking in the mountains with my father or with the members of the Victoria Salvamont team, in which I worked approximately 9 years as a mountain rescuer.
I can say that I spent almost my whole life in the mountains, more precisely, from the age of 11, when I started to understand „clearly” what it means to hike in the mountains and to enjoy their beauty but also to realize what risks I am exposed to in the mountains.
Then, at the age of 15, I started joining the Salvamont Victoria team, which I accompanied almost every weekend in the mountains and in various mountain rescue actions.
When I was about 18 I became a professional mountain rescuer within the Salvamont Victoria Public Service for 6 years and then I moved to another mountain rescue team in Sibiu – the Salvamont Sibiu Public Service – for another 6 years, so a pretty long period as a mountain rescuer.
Now... why a mountain guide? Because I wanted to avoid the mountain accidents in which Romanian and foreign tourists are involved. Following the participation in as many mountain rescues as possible in which I managed or not to save lives, I decided to become a mountain guide to accompany as many tourists as possible and to avoid them getting injured in the mountains.
And so... it's been already 15 years since I am guiding tourists in the mountains.
2. Can we say that you carry out your activity in Sibiu or has it become a national activity?
My activity as a mountain guide I carry out both in the mountain massifs from all over the country and in certain mountain areas in Europe or North Africa. I can only say that this year, 2020, which was special due to the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus, I carried out my activity only in some mountain massifs in our country. This year I restricted the area of mountain tours to only a few counties such as Sibiu, Brasov, Alba, Hunedoara or Prahova. In the past years I have worked as a mountain guide in mountain areas of Europe such as: Pirin, Rhodope and Rila Mountains in Bulgaria, Tatra Mountains in Slovakia and Poland, Saos Mountains – Greece, Durmitor National Park in Montenegro, Julian Alps from Slovenia, the Dolomites in Italy or the Atlas Mountains in North Africa, in Morocco.
3. Is it a dangerous job? Were there situations in which tourists were really in danger?
Like any job, there are risks of injury, but I think that the job of a mountain guide is a special job in which besides the fact that you are always exposed to accidents in the mountain area caused by bad weather, storms or avalanches, you also have to deal with different and quite complicated mentalities of tourists, all in the background of stress when the weather gets worse in the mountains. What I can say is that so far I have not had any mountain accident involving a tourist who hired me for a guided mountain tour.
4. I know that you have received thorough training and have vast experience. How difficult is it to attend a mountain guide school in Romania?
My training as a mountain guide was done over the years in which I worked as a mountain rescuer, during which time I had many pleasant but also unpleasant (dangerous) experiences, in which I was exposed to accidents and even the risk of losing my life.
All this made me gain experience in the mountain area and made me mentally and physically stronger.
If difficult or not... it depends on the guide school you choose. I attended a guide school for 2 years, but besides all this, each year spent in the mountains was beneficial for my experience as a mountain guide.
5. Do you work with a team of mountain guides? In which countries and on what peaks have you guided tourists so far?
I am part of an association of guides and mountain leaders called Societatea Ghizilor si Liderilor Montani „Carpati” (SGLM )/Society of Guides and Mountain Leaders „Carpati” (SGLM) with headquarters in Sibiu, which is internationally accredited for the training of international mountain leaders (UIMLA), but as an activity for mountain guide services I count on a few colleagues, mountain guides from Sibiu. Here are some of them: Costin Voinescu, Mircea Nan, Mihaela Rusu or Ionel Sorostinean, all accredited and recognized by the Ministry of Tourism. We do our job with professionals!
So far I have toured mountain massifs in Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Italy and Morocco and climbed most important peaks in these countries.
6. Is it a demanding job? Is there time for other leisure activities?
It is a demanding job because I am on mountain trails almost every day. Just like you go to the office from Monday to Friday, so do I hike in the mountains. In my case, the weekends are also spent in the mountains.
In a normal year, except this year, 2020, I spend on average about 260-280 days in the mountains, which takes up a lot of my time.
There is some time left for other activities, but very little. In my free time I spend time with my children, often in the mountains.
7. There is a Facebook group created especially for mountain lovers and I saw that it is a community of thousands of people, especially from Sibiu. Do I understand that the people of Sibiu are attracted to the mountains and nature walks?
There is a group on Facebook created by me, especially for those who hiked in the mountains with me at least once, and where I intend to keep them up to date with all the mountain tours I organize.
The group is called „Iubitori de munte, prieteni ai Mountain Guide Sibiu”/„Mountain lovers, friends of Mountain Guide Sibiu” and consists of tourists from all over the country and beyond.
It is NOT a group only for people from Sibiu, only that they are the majority and YES, there are more and more people from Sibiu people eager for mountain tours with or without a guide.
8. Do you organize teambuilding outings for corporations? Give us more details about what services you offer to those interested.
We organize mountain tours for any type of tourist interested in nature and the mountain area, from families with children, groups of friends to companies and corporations that want to have a teambuilding in nature.
For companies or corporations we offer services such as: mountain hikes, bike tours, hiking with stops at a sheepfold where people can have a lunch with traditional products from the Sibiu area, and in the cold season, if there is enough snow, we organize snowshoe hiking or introduction to cross-country skiing.
9. How can people get in touch with a mountain guide? Where can they find you?
All those who want to go on mountain tours in an organized setting together with a team of mountain guides can access our facebook page Mountain-Guide-Sibiu-Your Mountain Guides in Romania or our website www.mountainguide-sibiu.ro.
You can also find us by a simple Google search of mountain tours, mountain guides in Sibiu, etc.
In principle, a tourist who has already been with us brings one or two more people and they also bring others, so we are a small community that grows every month.
10. Thank you very much for this interview. Finally, please send a thought to the people of Sibiu who have already been with you in the mountains, but especially to those who are not yet convinced enough to do so.
To those who have already been with us, the MGS team (Mountain Guide Sibiu) can only thank them for being with us in all the organized mountain tours and for enjoying with us the beautiful landscapes of the Romanian Carpathians and beyond. We promise that we will organize more beautiful mountain hikes.
I also wish them a lot of health and take care of yourselves!!!
As for those who are not yet convinced to come with us, they will be convinced by their friends or relatives, who are already joining us, the MGS team !!!
And for all those who want to go out in nature, either in an organized setting with mountain guides or on their own, I can tell them this much: Don't think twice! Nature is a source of health!!!
SGLM Mountain Guide
UIMLA International Mountain Guide