I could count countries, continents, crags, mountains, cities, routes, people. I won´t. The start of this trip seems like such a long time ago, that when I got to Brazil and people asked me about Nepal, it felt like it was 10 years ago. I can just count that 967 days is almost 3 years. And 3 years is a lot of time to be alive and moving.
And so I decided to stop moving and settle down (for now). Which means that on this day, December 30th of 2016, this trip ends. Almost three years rambling around the world. I´ve grown, changed and learned so much… and so has the world and so many people I knew and met. I´ve written about this journey here and the rest is all over this site.
I could write a book about everything that transpired in this period of my life and it would probably go longer than a Dostoevsky novel. I might do some day, who knows. All I can say is I could not expect anything that happened, at all. It was so much intensity, good and bad, that many times I thought I was suspended in time watching myself live a parallel life. And yet, 3 years did pass. More precisely, 967 days. And it was all very real.
Bellow a small sum of what happened between days 768 and 967.
SOUTH AMERICA <3
After my last day of work I got a visit of a good partner in Chamonix. No alpinism for us, so we headed to Sardinia, which was my first opportunity to climb back to back on rock. No big grades there, but good results from the physiotherapy and weight training. Wrote about it here.
I then headed to Peru again. I wasn´t too excited to be climbing non stop like the last time. I wanted quality over quantity. I mostly needed to have good times with certain important people there, and close the circle that was opened in 2014. Fortunately, I didn´t have to go to Parón to do so. The air there is thin, but I could finally take some deep breaths.
I climbed rock on many places I had not been before, didn´t do many climbs on the mountains but some decent ones, had a few partner issues but regret absolutely nothing about it, but also had some great little climbs and an amazing partner to finish the season. Best of all was to actually see how much stronger I was than in 2014, not just physically, but mainly technically. I floated on D routes on 5000s and 6000s. A small – maybe big – personal success considering that my first time there those routes were my absolute limit. You know when have the feeling everything is a warm up and you never get to the main dish? Something like that.
Then I finished up with a few weeks of cold water surfing in Huanchaco and amazing Chicama, where I paddled like there was no tomorrow and caught maybe 5 waves, and of course, ate ceviche pretty much everyday. No dog bites and rabbies shots this time. Although my Peruvian surfing season wasn´t my best, I did once again asking myself why the hell I like alpinism so much when the life of a surfer is a lot easier and cheaper.
Although the reliable partner (and the sexism) is constantly my biggest limiting issue in climbing harder/higher, I realized they (the partners) are coming, and I know I have to keep at it. That all gets on my nerves as I feel I could have accomplished a lot more by now, but when I look back, I see good things came out of so much effort and being picky as I have been in the last year has indeed been a good thing.
Then I headed to Brazil, after 2 and a half years without setting foot here. I didn´t stop rock climbing for about three months. I first went sport climbing in limestone at Cipó, where I regained my confidence as a rock climber. I then headed to Rio de Janeiro for granite and gneiss multi pitches, flashed a 5.11a right away, and had my first attempt at a 5.11c. From there I went to my favorite area of this trip, which I had never been to, which is the very south of Brazil. Mostly basalt sport and some sandstone trad there, flashed a few 5.11as and a close brush with what would be my first 5.12a. After those longer trips, I had some one-day/weekend visits to some areas I used to climb at, but also at Paraíso, the cliffs where I first took climbing matters into my own hands, and there again, a close brush with a classic 5.12a… if only I had stayed more than a few days at each place! And a few visits to São Bento as well, a classic area for granite multi pitch and trad, where I climbed some gorgeous cracks, including another 5.12a one, all trad, but as second.
I myself have difficulty understanding the place I was in terms of climbing in January – that is, zero – and where I ended as this year ends. Training works I guess. Being stubborn too. To think there was no rock climbing, no ice climbing, no dry-tooling, hundreds of icing sessions, ibuprofen and rubber exercises for the first half of 2016, and then in a matter of months… I did not expect to be where I am now in terms of grades, considering that a year ago I had no idea when I´d be able to climb again. I just know I came back so much better than before, that sometimes I think this injury was the best thing that could have happened in the past years.
BLA BLA BLAS
There´s not much to my life other than climbing, which is fine, but aside from climbing, I saw many friends, spent tons of time with my family and obviously, went surfing (more like “tried”). My sister got married in November, and lots of people, including very competent friends, are unemployed here in Brazil. The economy is the worse I´ve seen in my entire life, but people are keeping their spirits up and climbing (and/or wanting to) more than ever, including in the big (and expensive) mountains. That had an important influence on my change of plans.
I got several invitations to do presentations about independent alpinism and alpine style, on several different places in the southeast and south, and although I couldn’t say yes to all of them, they rendered lots of feedback and messages. I guess I could draw a parallel between a gringo trying to dance samba and a Brazilian trying to scale ice and mountains, and that’s how big of a mystery it is to us. I was happy to shed light on the topic and share my path so that more people can have the privilege of climbing mountains. I think it helped, I’m thankful for the opportunity to give back to the community.
Then I had some adult moments and solved tons of bureaucratic stuff from the real world, and went to some doctors: I´m officially on a gluten free diet. I found out I’m lacking some important stuff in my food and I’m having to learn how to eat all over again. I did a few months of therapy which were wonderfully helpful, I once again learned that year after year, life is still gonna slap you in the face and you’ll still be learning tons of shit.
I learned more than ever to let some people go so that the good ones can come in. I feel “quantity friendships” (which are characteristic of youth) are exiting my life, yet the ones that come in are better and better. In other words: I´m eternally learning to stop wasting time on useless things and people and valuing those that willingly put up with our ups, and especially the downs. As I anticipated, the closure I needed came form coming home to family and life long friends.
I’m very happy this year is over. Because 2016 ending to me is closure to the weird 2014, the very difficult 2015 and “the comeback” 2016, therefore ending a big cycle. I´m completely over every injury I had, physical and mental. Climbing wise, that 5.12 almost happened, and I am super anxious about ice/mixed season. I got the basics of crack climbing, finally… and who´d have thought… in Brazil, where all we have are completely irregular cracks. The PTSD is gone, gone, gone.
I got myself back finally, which allowed me to put the important things in perspective again. It feels great to say “it´s over”. It´s good to have my life back in my hands again. I usually end with a “what´s next”. But this time, I don´t really know or care to plan too much. I´ll end with one of my favorite and most timeless quotes from Mark Twight:
“(…) Except I never watch TV or eat frozen food and I don´t own property. I spend my disposable income on compact discs, camera gear, and climbing mountains. I was a ‘no future’ kid, and I hope it becomes true because I don´t plan ahead for fishing holidays on Social Security. The future will be what it is whether I have insurance or not.”
Thanks to Zarela in Peru for always being such a wonderful friend, a wise and eye opening older sister. Thanks Nacho for always inspiring me to be a better alpinist. Amazing how Huaraz is such a good place for me to be.
Thanks to the dozens of climbing partners with whom I shared my rope these past months and who became great friends. Special mention to Cheba whom I climbed Huarapasca with in Peru, Pedro and Victor whom I met in Cipó and then climbed with in Rio – amazing positive vibes and so much learning and camaraderie. Alexandre and Cassiano in the south, again huge thanks for the amazing vibes, for being some of the most respectful, wise and humble climbers I´ve ever had the pleasure of climbing with, for inspiring me to try my best at every move and being the role model for the type of partner I need and want. Thiago in São Bento for inviting me over and for the amazing climbs we had (and endless stoke): they were absolutely awesome and some of the best crack pitches I´ve done and that left me smiling for days. That doesn´t happen everyday!
Thanks family for putting up with me, thanks to my soul sister Trish for taking the hard role of guardian angel. Thanks Universe for the mysterious, crooked and difficult ways in which you make me meet the most amazing people, go to the most amazing places, have some pretty rad climbs, and have that little side smile at the end of the day. You´re such a smart ass. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I accept having it easier sometimes okay? Oh, and now send me a boyfriend, I´m ready! 😉
Happy 2017 everyone! 😀